Week 06 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Week 06 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Project Development

Primary Sources –

In order to find out about the history of tech in education I need to find out the roots of how technology environments came in to being this picture sheds some light upon PLATO. The first primary source in my opinion will be this article and picture of PLATO from the 1960s. This article talks about PLATO, I feel this is important in exhibiting the roots of online and technology aided education at the University. Since PLATO was a monumental discovery for the whole world, it is a bigger sense of pride for the University.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/pa3vvg/the-greatest-computer-network-youve-never-heard-of

This picture talks about how several courses at the University are dependent on Technology for instructional purposes. The article introduces RELATE, a study platform that was created by a Professor at the University to help classes take place more seamlessly. This picture helps answer the question in terms of the need for technology platforms and the article further elaborates on how platforms like RELATE are changing the way studies take place at the University.

Source: https://dailyillini.com/news/2018/04/05/engineering-professor-develops-free-online-course-platform/

Secondary Sources –

In order to answer my question of how technology is aiding education, we need to show how the technology environments have evolved over time. This article from 2013 talks about the introduction of Compass2g at the University. It also sheds some light upon the new features that the platform possesses. This article will be useful in showing the evolution of such digital platforms.

Source: https://dailyillini.com/uncategorized/2013/08/30/moodle-compass-manage-class-readings-quizzes-homework-assignments/

In order to answer the question about the impact and different methods of technology that are used in education we can use this research study by Prof. Wong. This study examines the factors of technology that impact the learner, educators and administration. How these platforms are aiding or affecting education and what kind of a growth we are seeing in online education.

Source: https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/108160/WONG-DISSERTATION-2020.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=n

Once we are done scraping through the above resources, I believe reading more into studies and articles where students and educators talk about how their lives have changed with the advent of such technology would be an interesting source to help answer the questions. I also believe we should research more into the impact of online environments like these in time of the COVID pandemic because online education in Today’s era is more important than it ever was. I believe this would be a very crucial part in our study too. I would also like to look into the impact of devices like the I-Clicker in education and how it has helped in attendance and class attention grabbing statistics.

Drafting Interview and Survey Questions

a. Have you ever used any online learning environments/platforms? If so then which ones and in what capacity? (eg. Student, Educator, Administrator, etc.)

b. How do you think your educational experience would change if you were to shift your studies to completely offline without access to such platforms?

c. What are some offline study experiences that you think cannot be replicated in online study platforms?

d. Are you currently a student, if not what year were you one, and what kind of technology did you use at that time to aid in studies at the University?

e. Do you think your attention is better grasped if the class uses interaction technology such as the i-Clicker, etc , why? or do you prefer some other kind of classroom experience.

Reading Response

Three strategies that Foster and the team at BCL used to develop cybernetic practices were –

a. Heuristics – In the spring of 1968, a group of students from a variety of majors approached von Foerster and Brün with a proposal for a course on heuristics—a broadly focused, interdisciplinary survey of how problems are identified and solved, whether by artificial or living systems, by individuals or groups. This helped students be more involved in research in the classroom. (Hutchinson)

b.  Publication of Das GedächtnisThe same year that von Foerster published Das Gedächtnis, MIT mathematician and Macy Conference participant Norbert Wiener published Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, on the science of communication and control. This gave cybernetics the exposure in the education community that it needed. (Anderson)

c. Proposal to National Science Foundation – Von Foerster made a final, ambitious attempt to keep BCL alive by submitting a proposal to the National Science Foundation entitled, “Cognitive Technology: A Citizen–Society Problem Solving Interface.” The proposal drew on campuswide expertise in cognitive theory, educational psychology, linguistics, computer networks, programming, and multimedia. (Hutchinson) This proposal tried to raise enough grants for the BCL to keep it up and running.

Questions –

a. What makes you say Cybernetics is the most important tool to cure the problems of a troubled today?

b. Do you still think Cybernetics is as impactful in the present as it previously was, is there anything you feel needs evolving?

c. Do you think Heuristics is a necessary field that all students should learn? What are your thoughts on learning research in the current world with the advent of advance searching tools of the present?

d. What kind of other research took place at the BCL? Do you think there is still a void that needs to be filled by reviving BCL? What and Why?

Week 06 – Lab + Reading Response

1b) Lab Assignment: Project Development

In order to explore the question of the effect of student activism on the University, I need to also cover the effect that activism had on non-University departments. This resource helps highlight the effect that it had on pressuring large entities like Facebook to take down hurtful pages.

In order to answer my question of the effect of student activism on the University, I need to learn more about what student activists have been doing. This resource helps explore the public pressures and demands of these student groups.

Housing Is An Epicenter For Change: A Narrative of Students and Staff Championing Campus Social Change Movements by Kimberly Otchere, Tekita Bankhead, Ayanna Williams.

In order to answer the question of the results of student activism in changing UIUC, I need to find out more about large-scale student activist efforts and their effects on specific aspects of the University. This resource helps explore the relationship between Black students on campus in the mid 2010s and the results of their activism on housing at UIUC.

Catching the Spark: Student Activism and Student Data as a Catalyst for Systemic Transformation by Debra Bragg, Heather McCambly, Brian Durham.

In order to answer the question of the results of student activism in changing UIUC, I need to find out more about student activism and its relationships with other entities. This resource helps explore the role of student activism and data as catalysts for change.

In one more paragraph, begin to sketch out what other resources, documents, or interviews with
living or past individuals would help you to flesh out the research you hope to complete.
Consider the “so what” question: why would your research findings be relevant to campus or
community leaders today?

I want to look into other resources covering the anti-Black rhetoric and backlash online and in person, perhaps in response to their protests and demands. There seems to be an increase in the usage of technology, so I think that could be an interesting aspect to consider. As well, I would want to talk to individuals involved with these efforts (e.g. townhalls, protests) and talk to them about how successful they believe these efforts are. In terms of interviewing or surveying current University students, I would be curious to find out if current students know about these movements or even acknowledge its effects which have since changed their University experience. These findings would be relevant to campus leaders today, because some of the changes that were brought about due to student activism can still be adjusted, reformed, or improved — especially if they are not accomplishing their intended purpose.


1c) Drafting Interview & Survey Questions

What percentage of undergrad students at UIUC do you think are Black?

Do you remember I-Connect? What’s your opinion on it?

All University students are required to take both a Non-Western Cultural Studies gen-ed as well as a US Minorities gen-ed. What are your opinions on this? Why do you think they are both required?

Have you taken a U.S. Minorities gen-ed? How useful or interesting of a class was it for you?

Reading Response

In order to develop cybernetics practice, Heinz von Foerster and other members of the Biological Computing Lab got talented at accruing military funding for their research; however, that ultimate backfired on them during the anti-war movement of the ’70s. As part of cybernetics heuristics, von Foerster also emphasized the drastic need for looking at things from the eyes of the organism, not the observer. This went hand-in-hand with the idea of cybernetics being a more alternative take to view biological systems with the acknowledgement of the system of the system. Another strategy that von Foerster used was to teach several LAS 199 interdisciplinary seminars. Through classes such as these, von Foerster was able to to establish cybernetics as a field in many student’s minds as opportunities to explore.

Though the female-sounding name of Valerie Lamont was mentioned, what percentage of those affiliated with BCL at the student and then the staff/faculty levels were there (Prutzer)?

Since the BCL was quite influential yet largely lacks recognition nowadays, in terms of scope and impact on undergraduate students, what’s the modern equivalent to BCL today (Hutchinson)?

As a German/non-American, did Heinz von Foerster ever face any tension or difficulty as a researcher/director of the BCL due to his background (Anderson)?

Though funding for cybernetics eventually dissolved and got funneled into fields like Computer Science, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence, would there be modern-day value in investing back into cybernetics (Anderson)?

Week 06 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Part 1: Lab – Online Search & Project Development

Primary and Secondary Resources:

In order to answer my question on how technology has shaped communication within students, I need to find out how technology can be utilized to influence social change. The resource “Students utilize technology for social good through Hack4Impact” helps explore how it helps connect students with nonprofits through technology and the impacts that they make on society.

In order to answer my question on how technology has shaped communication within students, I need to find out how certain communication methods through technology change the way students interact with one another. The resource “The Role of Communication Technology in Adolescent Relationships and Identity Development” helps explain the impact that technology and communication methods have on students.

In order to answer how communication between undergraduate students at the University of Illinois has changed over time through the innovation of technology, I need to find out how students are taught to use technology. The resource “It doesn’t matter what is in their Hands” helps explore what impacts technology provided by an institution has on a student’s academic efficiency as well as their social interaction.

In order to answer my question on the social impact that technology has on students at the University of Illinois, I need to find out how increased use of technology is a factor of the social impact. My source “Students increase social media use over stay-at-home order” will help explore what can change when a student uses technology more than they did previously in their life.

Other resources I can use that will help with my research are newspapers, experiments, and interviews. For example, I could interview alumni that have experienced the progression of technology since their years in college. My research would be relevant to campus or community leaders because by understanding how the means of communication between undergraduate students at an institution changed over time through the innovation of technology, and what social impact has it had since previous years.

Drafting Interview & Survey Questions

  1. Before COVID, did you use technology on a daily basis? If so, how often did you use it? If not, why do you decide not to?
  2. What communication method through technology is the most efficient? How so?
  3. Did you experience a social change after using a certain technology to communicate?
  4. What social media platforms do you use and why?
  5. How has the constant growth of technology changed the way students connect with each other and the world?

Reading Response

Heinz von Foerster and members of the BCL used specific strategies to develop cybernetics practice. The first strategy implemented was after he established ‘second order cybernetics.’ Shortly after he did this, “he established the Biological Computer Laboratory in 1958 as a center for the study of the computational principles in living organisms” (Anderson).

The second strategy is that a member of BCL, Andrew Pickering, who “presents the emphasis on biological computing within cybernetics during the 1950s and 1960s as a productive alternative to modern technoscience” (Prutzer). He focuses on British cyberneticians to reflect the omission of von Foerster’s and the BCL’s work within cybernetics literature.

The final strategy was that Von Foerster made an attempt to keep BCL alive by submitting a proposal to the National Science Foundation entitled, “Cognitive Technology.” The purpose of this proposal “drew on campuswide expertise in cognitive theory, educational psychology, linguistics, computer networks, programming, and multimedia” (Hutchinson).

4 Questions:

  1. Were the obstacles of the formation of BCL difficult to overcome? How did you overcome them?
  2. What other work is involved in the BCL besides cybernetics?
  3. The BCL, with little to no university support for its highly interdisciplinary work, was unable to sustain itself without funding. How did it manage to continue its legacy?
  4. Are BCL innovations considered more social or technical? Why is one more common than the other?

Week 06 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Part 1: Lab – Online Search & Project Development

1b.) 2 Primary Resources and 2 Secondary Resources

In order to answer my question of the military’s impact at the University of Illinois, I need to find out the experiences ROTC students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Resource “Students Share their experiences as half student, half ROTC candidates” helps explore the military’s impact at the university and the influence on students’ lives.

In order to answer my question of the military’s impact on the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, I need to find out the experiences of ROTC students. The resource “ROTC students share program experiences” helps explore the question because it provides me with more first-hand experiences as an ROTC student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In order to answer my question about the federal government’s influence on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I need to find out about the history of UIUC and its relationship with the government. The resource “American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II” helps answer this question by providing me with the history of land grant universities including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In order to answer my question regarding the federal government’s influence over the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I need to find out about the history of Illinois as a land grant university. The resource “University of Illinois Centennial” helps answer the question by providing me with the history of the University of Illinois and the state government’s thoughts about the university.

1c.) Drafting Interview & Survey Questions

  • Are you a part of a military organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? If so, which one?
  • Has a military recruiter ever been in contact with you?
  • Do you have any classes at the Armory?
  • What encouraged you to join the ROTC?
  • Do you struggle with school because of your commitment to ROTC?

Part 2: Reading Response

2a.) One of the strategies Foerster and the members of the BCL used to develop cybernetic practices is their striking of the Clabaugh Act (Prutzer). This act banned un-American activities and prohibited parts of free speech (Prutzer). This act ultimately led to the student group to sue the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois for infringing on their rights (Prutzer).

Another strategy Foerster and the members of the BCL used was heuristics. Heuristics was an opportunity to bring research into the classroom according to Foerster (Hutchinson). This class enrolled numerous students and consisted of students producing a final book that would be added to the BCL publication (Hutchinson). This encouraged students to participate in research involved with the BCL.

The final strategy used to develop cybernetic practices was the organization and development of conferences related to cybernetics (Anderson). BCL recruited a diverse group of scholars such as anthropologists and biologists (Anderson). By recruiting scholars that were specialized in different fields, BCL and Foerster were able to develop cybernetic practices.

Four Questions

  1. Why was freedom of speech important to the development of cybernetic practices?
  2. Why was the diversification of academic fields needed?
  3. Other than cybernetics, what is the most important work done at the Biological Computer Laboratory?
  4. What are some interesting topics published by students working with the Biological Computer Laboratory?