What disturbs me most about Michael Bugeja's Inside Higher Ed piece The Medium is the Moral is that he characterizes McLuhan's "the medium is the message" as a truism "based on 40 years of communication scholarship." Bugeja's basic argument, or at least his conclusion, is that Duke's iPod experiment failed because "even the power of this compact device --- its incredible storage and future academic potential -- may not be enough to overcome the message of music downloads at $1 per pop." Bugeja seems ignorant to the play involved in McLuhan's oft quoted statement (see Meyrowitz's comments in my Machina Memorialis post).
While I'm not going to argue that an iPod is an optimal content delivery system or even that Duke's idea was a particularly good one (though as a rabid MacAddict I was thrilled when they announced the plan). Duke's plan seemed to fail mostly on the grounds that it was pedagogy practice imposed from above, it was implemented too quickly (how much time was anyone given to develop a curriculum around iPod use?), and declared a failure before most people had a chance to figure out what they were doing. In short, it goes against my basic rules for integrating technology into the classroom, which always revolve around some combination of "take your time," "your pedagogy should drive technology rather than technology driving your pedagogy," and "experiment and feel your way around."
Duke University | iPod | Marshall McLuhan | medium theory | Michael Bugeja | teaching