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Send me just a Pew more Today: Online learning reports this week from the USA Today and the Pew Internet & American Life Project
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Lots of reports related to educational technology and online learning this week in the USA Today (my primary source of news--smile). Monday they featured a story on 3 students at Carlton College in Northfield, MN who gave up computers for a few weeks. Not sure if Jessie and Frank James pulled off another great Northfield raid and stole all their computers, but I was curious to read what happened. Seems some of them could actually go offline for 3-4 weeks. And the rest of their class produced a documentary about it. They even asked the student body to abstain from computers for 24 hours.

They were forced to use typewriters of all things. Wow, now here's a technology that I want to forget (typing was my lowest grade (C) in high school--and perhaps lowest grade in my life). Despite that wondrous class, I still hunt and peck for keys. Still to give up computers and I assume online access via phones as well, is quite difficult today. I gave up TV in August in a $10 bet with my son and I think that is much easier to give up than computers. If my son was smart, he would have bet me $10 that I could not give up computers or the Internet for a few months. Hec, I can catch up with everything online--who needs stinking TV anyway? Not me! But I could not do the opposite--I could not get all my news, communication, and information needs from TV if I gave up computers instead of TV. Typewriters and TV are history in my book. Computers, mobile devices, and online communication are all I need. For more, read

The next day (December 18th), the USA Today ran yet another article the trend toward using digital textbooks (see Have we not seen this before? 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? And now late in 2007. Having been on the board of a digital book company called Metatext from 2000-2002 (now part of Xanadu), I can say that I have heard this story before. Every year we hear about the great boon toward digital textbooks, only to also hear about the bust a few months later due to problems in pricing, acceptability, usability, portability, trust, etc.

I think this time is really different, however. The article expand (albeit briefly) on how these can better address student learning styles and preferences. I just finished an article with Dr. Ke Zhang yesterday on how online technologies marry well today with theories of human intelligence, learning styles and preferences, and cognitive styles. Our upcoming R2D2 (Read, Reflect, Display, and Do) book with Jossey Bass has many examples related to how tools such as digital textbooks can address verbal and visual learners (as well as reflective and hands-on ones). However, Ke and I do not believe in learning styles per say. Still it interesting that companies like Pearson are once again making a push in this area (and perhaps no longer simply plodding along).

Wednesday was a slower day at the USA Today in terms of online and distance learning but today (Thursday the 20th) it picked pack up again (see This USA Today article notes that according to a new Pew Internet & American Life Project report called "Teens and Social Media" (see
According to this report, Web-savvy teens still use the telephone to communicate with their friends (39%); in fact, they use it more often than using their cell phones (35%), relying on face-to-face meetings (31%), sending instant messages (28%) or text messages (27%), using social networking tools to send messages (21%), and email (14%). Wow, I guess email is old school. And I guess the telephone is still ok.

There is also a report from the Pew Internet & American Life project called "Digital Footprints Online identity management and search in the age of transparency," by Mary Madden, Susannah Fox, Aaron Smith, and Jessica Vitak (see

This report is about how we have become content creators and expose masses of personal information about ourselves online. And then we Google our own names to see what appears. Is Google now our identity? There is much data in each report that you might want to read.

Humm, to recap, then, Carleton College kids are going back to typewriters and shunning computers, teens are still using landline phones to contact their friends more than cell phones (the data must be wrong here), publishers are yet again pushing digital supplements and e-books, and I am giving up TV. So, the world keeps turning--am I pushing ahead and everyone else pushing back or vice versa?
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:05 AM  
  • At 9:14 PM, Blogger Snea said…

    WOW, Dr. Bonk! This is turning out to be the best blog on e-learning (and more)that I have come across. I put a link to your main page at my personal home page (, but didn't revisit this blog site for a while.

    Thank you very much for showing us how to be tirelessly sharing and giving.


  • At 10:57 AM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks Snea. That is kind of you. Sometimes I am not sure anyone is reading it.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Snea said…

    In the virtual world, sometimes it's hard to know what the surfers do unless we embed a statistical tool on the page. Unless we own the server, oftentimes we cannot do much. Google may have such a tool, but I have not checked yet. On my website, I have very detailed analysis of which page is visited by whom at what time, and so on.

    A lot of people just read and do not reply. In any case, the materails you have at your blogs are of great use for people intersted in the field. I am sure the treasure will be found by more and more people. People say gaining knowledge is not a burden because you do not have to physically carry it on your shoulder. Now we can say that compiling a lot of useful knowledge is not a burden either, because there is plenty of space available for free in the virtual world.

    Please keep sharing with us!

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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