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									Small is still Beautiful:
Technological Minimalism for
the 21st Century

         Mauri Collins
     Rochester Institute of
         Technology
         March 2001
                               1
New Forms of
Communication
News
Listserver
Chat
Disjunction - These are NEW??




                                 2
Non-example
The ODU video-streaming project
     Presidential mandate
     Infrastructure investment
     In real time
     Training/support issues
     Faculty load
     COST

                                   3
I am not a Luddite!
On-the-ground realities
     Inexperienced faculty
     Inexperienced students
     Access/Inclusion
     Infrastructure issues
     International distribution



                                   4
Technological Minimalism
Practical considerations
Add a bell or a whistle - create
 another point of failure
  Sewing machines

  Cars

Fragile technologies don’t scale
 well to daily use
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Technological Minimalism
Philosophical roots
     Art and Architecture
     "'Minimal' means to me only the
      greatest economy in attaining the
      greatest ends" (Andre, 1984, cited in Baker, 1988, p. 14)




                                                                  6
Definition
”The unapologetic use of minimum
 levels of technology, carefully
 chosen with precise attention to
 their advantages and limitations,
 in support of well-defined
 instructional objectives"
  (Collins & Berge, 2000; Collins, 1999, p. 9; Collins & Berge, 1994).




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Minimalist technologies are:
Inclusive
Robust
Low cognitive load
Inexpensive
Ubiquitous
Asynchronous
Transparent
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Pittman
...we must not allow ourselves to accept the
   proposition that only the most expensive of the
   media can be useful in accomplishing our ends.
   That can lead to an "all or nothing" approach,
   demanding expensive, state-of-the-art delivery
   systems. Given the expense of such systems,
   "nothing" is often the result. With an open mind
   and a creative approach, the less expensive
   media, such as correspondence study,
   audioconferencing, and courses videotaped on
   campus and shown at other sites, can be highly
   effective in programming for expanded access.
   (Pittman, 1991, p. 35.)

                                                      9
Implications
Know what the technology can do
Know what students need to learn
Match minimal technology with
 course goals
Exercise forethought and design
Minimize points of failure

                                10
Implications - Institutions
Leverage existing infrastructure
Start small and build
Ramp up Faculty development
Ramp up Student development




                                    11
Implications: Students
Familiar technologies
Inexpensive equipment
     WebTV, Internet Appliances
Access: Deaf, Blind, Motor
Transparent Interaction
Don’t want ‘eye candy’, slow
 downloads, confusing navigation
                                   12
Implications:Faculty
Settlers, not pioneers!!
Familiar technologies
Minimum cognitive load
Minimum development time
Start small and build
Leverage existing resources

                               13
Implications: Faculty
When content becomes a
 commodity, what do faculty do?
     Teaching is more important than
      ever!
     Interact
     Mentor
     Enculturate


                                        14
Implications: Content
delivery
Density of content should be
 inversely related to the amount of
 synchronous communication
Use Paper, Videotape, Audio-tape
Text/images on CDRom
Buy course content


                                      15
Implications: Faculty
Development
Start where faculty are
Deal with faculty fears
Incremental changes
Subversive changes
Focus on teaching and learning
Maintain professional development

                                 16
Implications: Content
Delivery
Face-to-Face time is EXPENSIVE
Use it judiciously
     Presentations
     Questions
     Recitation
Don’t negate time/place
 independence

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Small is still beautiful
. . . . apply our big knowledge and big scientific
   and technological ability to create the
   thinking technologies for communities that are
   not already rich. We know how to serve the
   rich communities but to serve the poor
   communities including the poor communities
   in our own country we have to have a
   technology which, like a shoe must fit the
   foot, so the technology must fit the particular
   conditions of the community that is going to
   use it. Schumacher, 1977.
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