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“Digital is not better –Just Different”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 , 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Axinn 219

The last twenty years have seen the rise of considerable amounts of “digital scholarship” in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Paralleling this is a far more fundamental change in the cognitive skills and experience that undergraduates bring to college. In this talk I review the causes, impact, and future of these changes. Careful theoretical analysis reveals that there are both strengths and weaknesses to the new forms of scholarship, and that most of the claimed strengths are illusory, at least at the advanced research level. Computational techniques permit a few tasks never before possible, but for the most part produce indecisive, unstable answers to traditional research questions. On the pedagogical side, the digital approach to knowing – which engages students from before their arrival in kindergarten – has reshaped the undergraduate mind in ways that require a complete rethinking of college pedagogy: It is not so much that we must teach in new ways but that we must teach the skills which undergraduates no longer can be assumed to have, given of their relatively minimal exposure to complex discursive argument. Our task is worsened by the intrusion of social media into the social world of the classroom itself. It is clear that nothing short of a complete restructuring of undergraduate pedagogy is necessary.

This event sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative.

Andrew Abbott is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago. Known for his ecological theories of occupations, Abbott also pioneered algorithmic analysis of social sequence data. He has written on the foundations of social science methodology and on the evolution of the social sciences and the academic system. He is the author of seven books and eighty articles and chapters. 




Tuesday, March 15, 2016
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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The Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative.
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Axin 292
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753 United States
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