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Critical Thinking: An Exploration of Theory and Practice
Critical Thinking: An Exploration of Theory and Practice
by Jennifer Moon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moon (2008) Critical Thinking, 29 Nov 2013
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Jennifer Moon has written extensively on reflective learning, learning outcomes, learning journals and critical thinking. This book explores the latter as the title `Critical Thinking, An exploration of theory and practice' reveals.

After the introduction, the second part of the book starts off from a somewhat personal journey by exploring common-sense notions of critical thinking, collected during seminar work. This results in a broad understanding of what might be related to critical thinking, how and where it might represent itself and in what activities it might occur. Moon (2008: 29) argues that critical thinking is not only represented in text, it could also include `cartoons, satire, critiques, some jokes and humour', although in this book she mainly deals with the written form.

The chapters that follow are more grounded in the literature and explore what critical thinking might be and what it relates to. Whereby various aspects are reviewed, such as the role of language, the notion of logic, the relation with skills and abilities and the pedagogical models to develop it is reviewed. Interesting is the notion of `ways of being' and the developmental aspects of critical thinking, which are taken forward in the later chapters. Moon (2008) signpost that a person's epistemological, or theoretical understanding what knowledge might be is important to recognise students' development of critical thinking, its level and quality.

In the third part, Moon (2008) explores the role of emotions, language and academic assertiveness. Although, these aspects might not be obvious relevant, Moon (2008) shows that these do besides the conceptual perception of knowledge influence students' development as critical thinkers.

The relationship between critical thinking, epistemology and its developmental stages is developed in chapter 8. The level of depth in a person's critical thinking is according to Moon (2008) related to one's epistemological position. Moon (2008) follows a common epistemological divide in the literature. At one end of the spectrum, knowledge is positioned as fixed and absolute; at the other it is seen as contextual and constructed. Students, according to Moon (2008), in their development of critical thinking, move gradually from the absolute end, towards a more relativistic perspective on knowledge. Teaching and learning should enable this development. Moon (2008) provides examples how lecturers can support students to develop sufficient depth and stimulate relativism in their thinking, by offering opposing views, real-life examples etc. The last part of the book is dedicated to the pedagogy of critical thinking which contains resources and suggestions to stimulate the development of critical thinking.

The strength of Moon (2008) is that she approaches critical thinking broadly, starting from common sense and including emotional aspects etc., before imbedding it in the academic literature. However, she is by times also somewhat ambiguous, and substitutes for example critical thinking for reflective learning, based on her earlier work.

It could be argued that Moon's (2008) epistemological position presupposes an implicit hierarchy, favouring constructivism and relativism, over a positivistic or idealistic understanding of knowledge. Moon (2008) argues that students move from surface and descriptive accounts (based on their understanding that knowledge is fixed and absolute), to deep reflections by including attention to justification and the context (whereby knowledge is understood as socially constructed). This seems to illustrate students' development of critical thinking quite strongly. However, Moon (2008) does not develop the different tendencies within the epistemology with too much depth. Further it might lack sufficient attention to e.g. different connotations and application of criticality used in other sciences to develop knowledge. Moreover, she seems to come from a social science perspective, with a strong emphasis on reflective thinking as a mean of knowledge construction. Moon (2008) provides a description of critical thinking and its semantics, how it might be used and how students can be supported in their development, derived from common sense, seminars, personal reflection and literature. However, it might be argued (to criticize from a positivism perspective) that Moon (2008) does not offer a theory of critical thinking. For example she makes no attempt to explain why the development of critical thinking of students goes through an epistemological continuum. And why humans seem to be innate with an absolute view and not born with a contextual view on knowledge in the first place? As such we might need to be careful with the surface-deep continuum in critical thinking and Moon's (2008) epistemological associations with it.

In all, the book is relevant for everybody who wants to deepen and develop its own understanding of critical thinking, or want to support the development of others.


Intel DC3217IYE Barebone-PC (Intel Core i3 3217U, 1,8GHz, Intel HD 4000, no operating system)
Intel DC3217IYE Barebone-PC (Intel Core i3 3217U, 1,8GHz, Intel HD 4000, no operating system)
Offered by Ballicom International
Price: £216.93

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for an Ubuntu media centre, 15 Oct 2013
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Fitted the Intel BOXDC3217BY with:
* Crucial CT064M4SSD3 64GB M4 SATA III 6Gb/s mSATA MLC Internal SSD
* Crucial 8GB DDR3 1600 MT/s CL11 SODIMM 204 Pin 1.35V/1.5V Memory Module
* Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 Dual-band 802.11a/g/n Wireless LAN Mini Card
More technical specification and tested peripherals can be found on the Intel NUC site.
Used one HDMI port for the TV, the other is plugged with a HDMI to VGA with Audio Converter Adapter to play music over the amplifier.
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bits was installed with an USB drive without problems.
Note that you need a spare C5 Power Lead.
In all a very discrete media centre to play movies, MP3's and watch TV over Internet.


Learning Theory and Online Technologies
Learning Theory and Online Technologies
by Linda Harasim
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Harasim (2012) Learning Theory and Online Technologies, 18 Jun 2013
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Harasim (2012), professor at the Simon Fraser University, Canada, offers an overview on the main learning theories, the application and relationship with online technologies. Furthermore, offers an introduction to a theory of learning that would suite the 21st century, pedagogy of online education, and a variety of examples. This book will be of interest to educators who seek an introduction to educational theory and practical perspectives of online learning.

The majority of the chapters set out to discuss the interrelationship between learning theories and online technologies, the remaining chapters offer a string of examples of the pedagogical application and institutional embedment.

The first chapter outlines the theoretical structure of a learning theory, including an epistemological discussion on what we understand by knowledge and learning, presents the three main 20th century `classic' learning theories, behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism, and to Harasim's Online Collaborative Learning theory (OCL). The second chapter offers a historic, overview on the evolving learning capabilities of mankind, discussing the relevance and impact of the `paradigms' speech, writing, printing and internet for learning, on the same footing. The three succeeding chapters provide more detail on each of the three classic learning theories, outlines their strength and weaknesses within the educational setting and provides examples how online technologies could support and or be applied within each of the learning frameworks. According to Harasim (2012), none of the 20th century theories is capable of accommodating the profound changes that the internet has brought for teaching and learning, which requires the development of a new learning theory. After defining OCL in more detail, building on her previous work, Harasim (2012) makes the case that the internet has brought epistemological changes in the way we define, build and apply knowledge. Information in our knowledge economy is, according to Harasim (2012), in a constant flux, and OCL put emphasis on the collaborative (re)creation of knowledge for an applied setting, e.g. in a community of practice. Furthermore, Harasim (2012) argues that online learning has become mainstream, based on the Sloan foundation reports and the digital self-confident `Net Gen' generation. After developing OCL pedagogy in more depth, the advantages of online learning environments for learners is set out, such as place and time independent. The remaining chapters offer more detail on the practical application of the OCL theory and pedagogy through a series of examples of institution that offer online education, and online technologies to support educational networks and communities of practice.

The strength of this book will be found in the relationship between the learning theories and online learning. Especially the chapters on the three classical theories provide an excellent introduction to the principles, pedagogy and online technologies that support such learning approaches. However Harasim (2012) is by times, even for an introduction, somewhat unbalanced, and uncritical in the argumentation, use of sources and selection of themes. The book lacks references to more nuanced debates, concerns, and delivery of online learning, discussed in the academic literature and has a strong US orientation in its sources and examples. For example, her focus on online technologies seems a little narrow as there is no discussion on other technologies for learning in a broader context. An introduction or debate on other very influential 20th century technologies such as radio, film and TV for educational theory, practice, training and delivery is almost absent. Furthermore, speech, writing, printing and internet are put at the same level of relevance for learning, without a discussion if the later can be seen as just another mass media or an extension of print. More theoretical, it could be argued that the epistemological argument for the OCL theory uses an oversimplified notion of the knowledge economy and the perceived revolutionary roll the internet plays in supporting collaborative creation/modification of knowledge for an applied, mainly work based environment. The OCL theory emphasises the importance of collaboration for the learning process in a mature or professional context, which might not transferable or appropriate for other groups of learners.
Lastly, Harasim (2012) offers more types of online learning. Besides OCL, she introduces online distance learning (ODL) and online courseware (OC), but only develops OCL in more detail. Educators working in the sector of online training and delivery would have been interested in a theoretical development of the other two.

References
Harasim, L. (2012), Learning Theory and Online Technologies, London: Routledge


Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age: A Critical Analysis (Foundations and Futures of Education)
Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age: A Critical Analysis (Foundations and Futures of Education)
by Neil Selwyn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wider context of debates on ICT and education, 21 Dec 2011
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Neil Selwyn is a lecturer and researcher at the London Knowledge Lab, collaboration between the Institute of Education and Birkbeck University. He published numerous articles and book chapters on education and technology, often from a sociological background with a focus on primary and secondary education.

This book, as the subtitle states, is a critical analysis of the debates, expectations and reality of technology in schools. The analysis is structured in three parts. Starting with a detailed description of the expectations of digital technologies for education, followed by contrasting these expectations with the reality of schooling, and Selwyn (2011) completes by positioning educational technology realistically within the school.

During the first part of the book, Selwyn (2011) reviews and deconstruct several promises, hopes and expectations of digital technologies for schools. He shows that technologies are not brought into schools neutrally, but often presuppose, or are at least accompanied by expectations of progress, efficiency and improvement. Digital technologies are promoted to address a variety of issues and perceived deficits related to education, such as school efficiency, students' performance, and social inequality. The positive disposition of educational technology is visual in a variety of documents and commentaries, such as, reports that may or may not have a commercial background, academic research, governmental policy, reports and funding. And each of these key holders have their own hidden agendas and position the value of digital technologies, schools, students and teachers in their own way. Digital technologies are not always perceived as positive, and Selwyn (2011) shows that the discourse is often polarised, e.g. , opposite voices argue e.g. that technology is `dumbing down' intellectual performances. Selwyn (2011, ix) himself, tries to question the positive outlook but does not want position himself as "negative or somehow `anti-technology'", but by times it seems not far off.

These positive and to a lesser extent negative expectations of technology are according to Selwyn (2011) in contrast with the realities of schools and schooling. Despite investments, schools have not changed very much, nor did they become more efficient, equal, accessible and productive. Selwyn (2011: 34) shows that in the literature several parties have been blamed for the unrealized promises of digital technologies, e.g. schools are seen as conservative, teachers are old, unskilled and digital immigrants, and politicians offer only verbal support, but that these "reasons of deficiency cannot solely account for the apparent failure of digital technology in contemporary schooling".

In part two Selwyn (2011) analysis in more detail how policy making, private sector involvement and organizational concerns shape the debate and influence the use of educational technology. One of the strongest chapters within this section is on the `lived experiences' of teachers and students on technology, in which Selwyn (2011) draws a nuanced picture of the everyday reality of the classroom. Instead of progressive pedagogies, pragmatic attitudes towards technologies are the driver behind their use. Technologies need to "fit with the wider job of being a teacher', e.g. concerns about classroom control are more important for the individual teacher in there day to day practice (Selwyn, 2011: 106). This echo's earlier (sociological) accounts of the non use of audio visual educational technologies, which use was overshadowed, despite their expectations, by pragmatic constrains related to hardware and software. `Low technologies', such as blackboards, desks, textbooks, and pens and paper are more reliable, adjustable and personalisable for teachers, do not obstruct or undermine the teachers' position and management of the classroom (e.g. Cuban, 1986; Denscombe, 1985: 73; Oppenheimer, 1983). Selwyn (2011: 115) argues that teacher' decision and choice to use technology "need to be understood within the wider contexts of schools and schooling"; it needs to be seen as part of the "wider issues of power and control that inform and underlie what goes on in school settings".

The last chapters put digital technology for education in a wider and more political context. For most of the stakeholders, according to Selwyn (2011: 123) digital technologies are a vehicle to "engineer educational change in an indirect and aspirational manner". But as the "main debates surrounding schooling in the digital age are about questions of benefit and power, equality and empowerment, structure and agency and social justice" they could be addressed over other political means and strategies (Selwyn, 2011: 131). This does not mean for Selwyn (2011) that digital technologies should be abandoned but should be imbedded taking the educational context in mind. The open source movement e.g. could result in a better `fit' between technologies and the classroom circumstances and demands. But more to the point is Selwyn's (2011) case for a `critical digital literacy', one that informs and creates awareness not only among researchers but among all stakeholders, and stimulates a more balanced view on educational technology.

In all it is a book worth reading and everybody working in the field of educational technology or e-learning will recognize the variety of debates Selwyn (2011) is referring to, and it is refreshing to see those debates positioned in a wider context. It forms a welcome critical and nuanced voice, which is almost absent in the current literature.

Although, Selwyn (2011) concentrates on primary and secondary education a similar argument for a more `critical digital literacy' could be made for the positive disposition of educational technology in Higher Education (HE). Expectations of digital technologies for HE is e.g. visual in reports of JISC and HEFCE. But also educational research on this topic seems skewed. Journals, such as, `Research in Learning Technology', `British Educational Research Journal' and `Journal of Computer Assisted Learning' contain only occasionally papers reporting findings of no impact use or benefits. These papers probably don't make it through the selection process and/or out of the drawers. `Ethnographic' descriptions, reporting on the struggle with classroom technologies are overshadowed as Selwyn (2011: 151) argues by `thousand' of `a-critical' research that "prove some impact or other that can be associated with digital technology". As such it would have been interesting addition, if Selwyn (2011) would have spent some time, beside his thorough discourse analyse, on the self-perpetuating social mechanism within the EduTech community.

References:
Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and Machines. The classroom us of technology since 1920. New York, Teachers College Press.
Denscombe, M. (1985). Classroom Control. A sociological perspective. London, George Allen & Unwin (publishers) Ltd
Oppenheim, T. (2003). The Flickering Mind. Saving education from the false promises of technology (2nd Ed). New York, Random House Trade Paperbacks
Selwyn, N. (2011). Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age. A critical analysis. Oxon, Routledge.


The Information
The Information
by James Gleick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.20

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On information, 6 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Information (Hardcover)
In this book Gleick (2001) offers a historical account of information and communicational systems. Showing the technology, the social and cultural impact, the inventors and there environment and a theoretical account on information. Starting with anthropological accounts of communication and signalling, to light and electric telegraph and the ancestors of early calculators and computer he comes to write about the information age. Each of these information and communication technologies, according to Gleick (2011), as the printing press, telegraph, telephone and internet left their mark on our society, most noticeably are the early communicational systems who made the word smaller and globally connected and contributed to standardisation as the time zones.

Several key figures pass by e.g. Charles Babbage who contributed to the early calculator or computer, Ada Byron who started working on the first algorithms, Samuel Morse who contributed to the telegraph and Morse code, Alan Turing who was one of the key persons in the development of computation, algorithm and inventor of the Turing machine and Claude Shannon regards as the father of information theory. Gleick (2011) provides bibliographical information, how some of these people were interlinked, together with accounts how they contributed by innovation, adaptation and research to the different information and communication systems.

Gleick (2011) does not contribute to the history of communication technologies with new research, facts or insights, and refers and quotes several well known authors on the same topic. The interesting bit in Gleick (2011) book is probably not the historical description how different systems came into being, but the adaptation people made to make most of it, which is now largely forgotten. The telegraph resulted in lists of abbreviations and special dictionaries of words of phrases to transmit, as much information as possible, with the least amount of characters. And how the telephone book, with list of persons and numbers were needed to organise and connect people. But that both types of retrieval systems became redundant by new technologies. Despite their disappearance, the quest to develop more efficient signs and media contributed to the development of digital information. And as digital information becomes increasingly more sophisticated and efficient, it leads to a world according to Gleick (2011) of abundance or a flood of information.

Towards the end, the book becomes fragmented. Gleick (2011) tries to show how information is understood in different disciplines as genetics (memes and genes), physics (Maxwell's Demon and randomness), and in literature (Jorge Luis Borges, Library of Babel). Gleick (2011) shows briefly how older communication systems, which transmit, select and filter information, but also provided tools to make sense of information, such as printed books with indexes, table of content and references, special books like catalogues, encyclopaedia, glossaries, book of quotations and anthropologies and entries as book reviews and digests. However, Gleick (2011) does not describe, accept from mentioning that it becomes available in daunting quantities, how people deal with digital information. It would have been more interesting, instead of the theoretical descriptions of information theory, which is not Gleick's strongpoint, to know how people distribute, organise, structure, select and filter information, and make the best of the tools available and contrast this with previous and almost forgotten attempts.

As mentioned, this book is an eclectic collection of interesting pieces and ideas, by times easy to read and amusing, but on the whole incoherent.

Gleick, J. (2011) The information. A History, a Theory, a Flood. London, Fourth Estate


Virtual Learning Environments: Using, Choosing and Developing your VLE
Virtual Learning Environments: Using, Choosing and Developing your VLE
by Martin Weller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.99

4.0 out of 5 stars VLE's in HE, 1 Dec 2011
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In this book Martin Weller offers a comprehensive overview on different aspects related to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). And even in 2011 it is still one of the view resources with this kind of scope. Weller's (2007) target audience is Higher Education and the VLE in primary and secondary education are not explored or discussed. Although Weller (2007: 4) is cautious defining the VLE, as "definitions often generate more heat than light, their length and ferocity almost indirectly proportional to their usefulness". The VLE is defined as "a software system that combines a number of different tools that are used to systematically deliver content online and facilitate the learning experience around the content' (Weller, 2007: 5).

The first chapters are introductory, offering a discussion on defining the VLE in contrast with other systems such as MLE and CMS, the common conception about a VLE, an explanation of its applications and how it can be used in an educational context. These chapters seem to aim for a more general reader who wants to inform him/herself and wants to work with the VLE.

The chapters in the middle are more specific and deal with the choice for a VLE, the integration of the VLE with other institutional systems such as student portals, interoperability and technical standards. Weller (2007) spends some time on open source VLE solutions, which might indicate a certain preference, maybe not surprisingly with his close connection to the Open University. The latter chapters put the VLE in a wider context and Weller (2007) offers a couple of case studies how the VLE was implemented at three institutions and what can be learned from it. By looking forward to WEB 2.0 technologies Weller (2007) tries to address some question that might be raised in relationship with the VLE. The middle and later chapters might be less relevant for a general reader, as they are slightly more technical. The chapters are probably more relevant for learning technologist and administrators, who are reviewing their institutional VLE, are looking for the different aspects that need to be considered and want to draw a framework for their VLE review process.

Weller (2007) describes and discusses a variety of aspects and topics related to the VLE in a higher educational context, which have not been brought together concisely. This is certainly the strength of this book. However the scope might also be seen as a shortcoming. The introductory chapters and a chapter on `learning design' touch on pedagogy and offer some framework to start with, but I'm not sure if they offer enough substance to be practical or applicable. Further, a topic as the take-up of the VLE starts with Rogers' (1962) `Diffusion of Innovation' model which is appropriate, but Weller (2007) does not mention any research on the take-up of the VLE. References to e.g. the Jenkins et al. (2005) report would have given the topic more body and made it less hypothetical. Weller (2007) is by times somewhat descriptive, however, the discussion on the future of the VLE and his chapter on personal learning environment are still very relevant.

References
Jenkins, M. Browne. T. & Walker, R. (2005). VLE Surveys A longitudinal perspective between March 2001, March 2003 and March 2005 for higher education in the United Kingdom. [Online]. Available from: [...]
Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. Glencoe, Free Press
Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environments. Using choosing and developing your VLE. Oxon, Routledge


Holding On to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium
Holding On to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium
by Albert Borgmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Information and reality, 24 Nov 2011
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Albert Borgmann is a professor of philosophy at The University of Montana, USA, and well known for his work on philosophy of technology e.g. Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry (1984). `Holding on to reality' is dedicated to information, the subtitle `the nature of Information at the turn of the millennium' might give the impression that it is primarily concerned with the textual digital information. But, Borgmann (1999) approaches information more broadly and offers a framework to approach or analyse information, which is illustrated historically with different information systems and the impact they left on us, before he discusses the impact of digital information.

In the first couple of chapters, Borgmann (1999) turns to the nature of information and offers a framework or theory that he uses throughout his book. In this framework Borgmann positions five concepts related to information. Information is conveyed by Sign's and these are separated from Reality. The Person and his/her Intelligence interpret the sign in a Context. A sign can be almost everything, a song, written note, rock art or a digital string of numbers. In order to be recognised as a sign, it must be a representation of, or make a reference to reality, it is an `object of some sort that are about some things' (Borgmann, 1999: 17). For an object to be recognised as a sign, as a distinction of being part of reality, a Person is required, as a `person is informed by a sigh about some thing' (Borgmann, 1999: 18). The person will require a certain form of Intelligence to make interpretations of the sign and its reference to reality. However, a sign is only meaningful in a certain context, under different circumstance it might not be recognised and been seen as a part of reality. To summarise in Borgmann's (1999: 22) own words: "Intelligence provided, a person is informed by a sign about some thing within a certain context".

Although, there are five notions in Borgmann (1999) framework he spent most of his further chapters on the nature of signs and shows how our culture and understanding of the world changed by different signs. He illustrates this by investigating the transition from an oral culture to a written culture, whereby relative week sign's, a full personal engagement with reality and an intimacy with the context made place for a written culture. Writing allowed a greater detachment from the person who transmits the information, its location and its context. With the transition to a written culture, structural information becomes more developed and helped us to describe reality in greater detail. However, only so much can be captured in writing and Borgmann (1999) shows that different signs were introduced that extended what we can capture about reality, but also changed our experience of reality. Grids of sign's, which are concepts as time and money, techniques like engravings and printing to create books, maps and tables, or methods like mathematical equations and music notations, enhanced what we can capture in what Borgmann (1999) calls structural information. The value of these grids lay in there economy and information becomes more assessable, efficient, reliable, mobile and uniform, and increased in clarity and precision. Information technology, like the computer and the internet over automation, computation and transmission enhance in some respects the transparency, clarity and our control over information. Nevertheless, signs are "vehicles and vectors. The meaning they convey directs us beyond themselves to things", they are instructions and "provide information about reality" (Borgmann, 1999: 85-6). To create meaning and apply information or as Borgmann (1999) calls it to `realise' and `comprehend' information the intelligent person in a specific context is required.

Despite the fact that the quality and quantity of our methods to capture `about reality' in signs increases according to Borgmann (1999), there will be always a discrepancy between us and reality. There is an `ambiguity' between us and reality that can only be "resolved by our engagement with an existing reality, with the wilderness we are disagreed about" (Borgmann, 1999: 185). Several examples illustrate his point e.g. the difference between music on sheets and the reality of hearing music, or the difference between our calculations, chards, maps and plans and the reality of building the Freiburg Minster. As Borgmann (1999: 113) puts it, "no design can specify its realization fully".

The discrepancy between information `about reality' and reality becomes lost in the digital world, according to Borgmann (1999). Even if, we have not reached a technical advance level of fully virtual world yet, a simulated world, with all its attraction, will create its own discrepancy between the virtual sign and the simulated world. The link between virtual sign's and reality will be lost, leaving the user considering trivia about a world that not really exists. "The computer, when it harbours virtual reality, is no longer a machine that helps us to cope with the world by making a beneficial difference in reality; it makes all the difference and liberates us from actual reality. Of the five terms of information where, intelligence provided, a person is informed by a sign about some thing in a certain context, intelligence, things, and context evaporate and leave a person with self-sufficient and peculiarly ambiguous signs" (Borgmann, 1999: 183).

Borgmann (1999) framework to approach information seems to me the strongest point of this book and the notion of the economy of sign's makes it worth reading. Borgmann (1999) tries to get beyond the description of information systems and the description of their impact, by focusing more closely on the difference between information about reality and reality itself. However, except from illustrating this point with quotations of e.g. the physics Steven Weinberg, beautiful though, is unable to develop this point on a sufficient level. Considering that the nature of reality at least was, and still is, one of the main questions of philosophy you might expect a slightly more perceptive approach than some, almost esoteric, remarks that reality despite our best effort seems to be out of our reach by its contingency. As Borgmann (1999) takes this point forward to discuss the consequences for digital information and simulated realities the argument becomes a little superficial and more can be said about virtual realities for pleasure and (applied) science and there discrepancy with reality. Lastly, the framework that defines information seems individual orientated. Borgmann (1999) speaks about the person that makes an interpretation of the sign, but there is no explicit notion of the other in this framework. The person makes an interpretation of the sign in a certain context. Whereby the context can be geographical, historical and culturally interpreted and might include some notion of the other. It seems to me that information is in first instance a social act, a sign is produced to inform others and the development of technology especially that of grids is very much a collaborative effort. The comprehension and application of these, sometimes very advance grids, requires a social environment. To come back to Borgmann (1999) doubt on virtual realities, the discrepancy between the virtual sign's and reality might be trivial on an individual level, but meaningful in a virtual social context.

If interested in information and meaning than this book is strongly recommended and a read worthwhile. It will require, by times, some attention and some chapters e.g. one the Freiburg Minster and Boolean algebra drag on a bit.

Borgmann, A. (1999) Holding on to reality. The nature of Information at the turn of the millennium. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.


Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World
Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World
by Jack Goldsmith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Internet and the merits of commercial and governmental regulation, 18 Nov 2011
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Goldsmith & Wu (2006) in `Who Controls the Internet', contrast the early expectations and ideology that surrounded the developments of the internet, with the reality of commercialisation and governmental control, shortly before and after the change of the millennium.

By characterising the early ideology of the internet as free, undisturbed by physical location, government intervention and law and reflects the `hacker ethics', although Goldsmith & Wu do not use the latter terminology. Throughout the different chapters, each based around an example, such as Yahoo versus local law, the authority over the Root, internet crime and copy rights, they show that the internet is over the years brought under governmental and commercial authority. "The internet is no exception" as Goldsmith & Wu (2006: 153) argue, to other information technologies that have been introduced to us like the telegraph, radio and television.

Besides illustrating their point, they also argue that there is some virtue in this development. Despite internets contribution to globalisation, most of us are still concentrated within local, language and cultural boundaries, have `different backgrounds, capacities, preferences, desires and needs' and are not interested in racism, discrimination, fraud, cybercrime and infringement of our privacy, freely possible in the early years of the internet (Goldsmith & Wu, 2006: 149). Commercial interests and customisation, and governmental law, in some cases globally imposed, show that regulation has lead to a more stable and robust internet.

The strength of Goldsmith & Wu's (2006) book lays in this argument. Nonetheless, they do not forget to discuss the opposite side of governmental regulation and control, whereby internet is used as an extension to monitor and control its population.

As with many books written about internet, reading this book towards the end of 2011, while it was first published in 2006, you might think it lost some of it relevant. In some respect it has. The technical development of Internet is not completed and new possibilities entered the scene since then, which might require adaptation and regulation. And I would encourage the authors to incorporate and extent their debate on privacy regulation with new examples such as, Google's Street View data collection and Facebook. As well as, extending the chapter on the Root, as although, the final authority is still with the U.S. Department of Commerce, ICANN supported the extension of web domain suffixes, enabling multilingual domain names and this might show some shift in power again. But despite this, the book is still a good read, well illustrated and structured and makes an interesting point that might be considered slightly conservative but realistically developed.

Goldsmith, J. & Wu, T. (2006). Who controls the Internet. Illusions of a Borderless World (2nd Ed). Oxford, Oxford University Press


Innovative Assessment in Higher Education
Innovative Assessment in Higher Education
by Cordelia Bryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but offer little useable substance for your own practice, 16 Mar 2009
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Cordelia Bryan and Karen Clegg (editors) brought together a range of articles on e-assessments. Most of the chapters in this collection are adopted research articles, previous printed in journals on like "Assessment and Evaluations in Higher Education" and "Learning and Teaching in Higher Education" or presented conference papers. Some of chapters offer material to think about (e-)assessment on a macro level, like the chapters from Graham Gibbs. Others offer more practical guiding on e-assessment and feedback like David Nicol and Colin Milligan.
On the whole the book covers a lot of different e-assessment modes, from objective test, e-feedback, learning for assessment, PDP and e-portfolio, etc. But every chapter stand-alone from the others which gives the book less coherence and practical substance for your own teaching and learning practice.


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