Tech to host ‘digital’ debate, roundtables at Global Strike Symposium
The role of technology in the future of American education will serve as the foundation for a debate to be hosted by Louisiana Tech University on November 16, as part of the Global Strike Symposium 2010 in Shreveport. “Digital Natives or Naively Digital” will feature Mark Prensky, technology advocate and author of Teaching Digital Natives—Partnering for Real Learning, and Mark Bauerlein, professor of literature at Emory University and author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. Les Guice, vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech, will moderate the debate. “This debate will be a real treat and will allow educators and citizens alike to consider this question at a much deeper level, and in doing so, to engage again in a healthy discussion of the purpose of American education,” said Jeremy Mhire, assistant professor of political science at Louisiana Tech. “The word ‘educate’ literally means ‘to lead,’ and we here at Tech welcome this opportunity to lead such an important discussion.” The central theme of the discussion will focus on the future of education in our country and the role that technology should (or should not) play in that future. According to Mhire and his colleagues, this is of broad importance as the United States seeks to remain a leader in a highly competitive and globalized world. “It is vitally important that the education of our students provides them with all of the skills needed to excel,” says Jason Pigg, associate professor of political science and head of the social sciences department at Louisiana Tech. “Education has always been considered to be an indispensable part of our democratic republic, with informed citizens being viewed as a prerequisite for a successful democracy from the time of Thomas Jefferson on.” Two roundtable discussions featuring the speakers and Louisiana Tech faculty will precede the debate. These roundtables will feature insights from faculty members across several disciplines and will seek to explore related topics which may not arise during the formal debate. The Global Strike Symposium was viewed as a good forum for this debate, since the audience will be composed of individuals who have a high stake in the topic including military and civic leaders, and educators from throughout the region. Mhire and event organizers hope attendees will recognize that the debate’s theme is one that is inextricably linked with the values held as a society and that, in order to decide on the proper role for technology in education, we must consider the deeper purpose of education in a democratic society. “To be sure, we hope this debate will serve as a catalyst for future conversations about the scope and methods of education,” Mhire said. “Yet we also hope to show the public that Louisiana Tech is at the forefront of these conversations, and what others are only beginning to discuss is already becoming curricular initiatives at Tech.” “The role of [Louisiana Tech’s] College of Engineering and Science, and especially of Dr. Galen Turner, has been critical to this event. Without them, and specifically him, none of this would have been possible. This effort is truly interdisciplinary.” Louisiana Tech’s approach to creating this event shows recognition by its faculty that the most important issues facing education do not neatly fit into any one discipline, but instead stretch across disciplines. Funding for the debate is provided through a U.S. Department of Education grant titled, “Cyber K-12: Building a foundation for cyber education in North Louisiana,” and is presented jointly by Louisiana Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and College of Engineering and Science, and the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.