Quote of the moment - By all means email any worthy quotes

    What does a fish know of water in which it swims all its life? What does a man know of nature of which he is an integral part? The ancient answer is: he knows and he knows not. (cited in Saraswati, 1995 (Ed) Man in Nature)

    The more I have learned in life, and I have learned a lot, the less confident I am in what I know. From this, I conclude that adamancy is a sign of ignorance. M. Ferguson 2010- Polymathica

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Peak oil and Technology Education for a sustainable future

Technacy predicts that a change in one part of the technological dynamic creates or forces a shift in the other elements.  So, if a change in the Eco-resource is forced upon a technology system both the; tools instuments and devices and The Knowledge, values and organisation of Agency must necessarily experience a shift and adaptation.

The video below cited on a Post Carbon institute site article, discusses oil as a dominating eco-resource. Special mention is made of the way trade [a purpsoe.context factor] is organised, operated and  fuelled [ie. the economy]. If our whole technological civilization is fueled on oil, and oil becomes more and more expensive- what can we expect to give in the agency, tools, instruments devices, and what purpose/context factors need to be re-evaluated. 

SO; Some decisions need to be made in how we educate young minds about technology. A technology curriculum in schools might somehow prepare children for a new way of thinking to cope with the probable changes ahead.  Industrial arts, Industrial technology, Food and textiles technology classes will need to 'de-materialise' their learning, teach systems thinking and complexity, foster critical thinking, show the relevance of economic activity to technolgical occupations, assess knowledge about values and attitudes embedded in technologies and their designs, and teach about sustainable decision making  -  somehow.  

Peak everything: see original source here.

Friday, 21 November 2008

New international publication

Work, Learning and Sustainable Development

Technacy makes an appearance in Chapter 10:  Technacy Education: Understanding Cross-cultural Technological Praxis  by Kurt W. Seemann

Friday, 19 September 2008

Extra post for September

I usually only do one post a month to avoid too much distraction But I had a discussion with someone yesterday that I simply must get out of my head.

Have you ever thought....
  • We never look at a Formula or set of numbers and say "those symbols and numbers are 'A' mathematics"; no- they are symbols that represent abstract mathematical concepts.
  • We never look at letters and say "they are 'A' language"; no- but they form the basis of a language
  • We never look at people and say "they were 'A' sociology"; no- but they were a society
  • We never look at a past event and say "that is 'A' history"; no- but it is historial
  • We never look at human body or plant and say "that is 'A' biology"; no - but it is bioloical
  • We never study a past society and say "that is 'AN' anthropology"; no - we make anthropological observations.
  • We never look at a building and say "that is 'AN' architecture"- it is a piece of architecture or architectural
and I could go on...and on...  (and so, perhaps I do)

But!   everyday in the media and in conversations we hear...
  • that fax machine is a technology
  • the computer is a technology
  • this new piece of technology this... that piece of technology that.... blah blah blah.
What's the go with that?!!!

The suffix '~al' means 'pertaining to', so anything technological therefore is 'pertaining to technology'  we could say that the computer is technological but it is NOT  'A' technology.

Is the device itself technological?- possibly (that requires more thought but it seems plausible).
'Techne', from which we get words like technique, technical, technology etc is often translated 'CRAFT'. The implication is that the craftsperson has internalised knowledge, skill and attitude to perform a task efficiently and proficiently (which is of itself a normative evaluation).  
Hence, to be Technical, requires an implicit sense of knowledge and reason directing action

To study how to use a technical device, such as a computer for a particular purpose, can be considered a craft in the same way using a knife, hammer, drill machine, an x-ray machine, or nano-machine, managing a organisational system, etc, etc, etc  requires techne (craft) to be efficient and proficient.

To the ancient philosophers, practicing medicine is techne and so, a craft not a science. [This may appear to be contrary to popular lay-views.]

So, learning how to use a technological artefact for human ends can really only be considered technical learning, and although technological (as in pertaining to technology) it is NOT technology in its true sence.

Next, add to 'techne', the root '~ology'  or 'the study of...'

Surely then,

technology then means the study of the reasoning and actions to perform tasks efficiently and proficiently [a step removed from the technical].

Given this- surely, to truly study  Technology objectively, One must observe, understand and develop knowledge about technical action holistically;   that is
  1. that which has the knowledge, technique, attitude and organisation (the agent);   
  2. the instruments systems and devices wielded in a technical act (technical systems)
  3. the existing materials obtained and modified from the natural or human-made ecology (eco-resource);  and
  4.  include the reason and the place that the whole synthesis of elements is brought together in the first place (the purpose and context)
There we have the four elements of technacy.

If One remains within the context of technical action to study technology it may be that judgements being made are "tainted" or contain bias from an experienced or crafted version of reality- this constructed reality may not be in the best interests of the planet or ourselves but without escaping the constructed reality we can never know.  This may seem terribly theoretical and not practical but technology involves change and so the best test of technological knowledge is to observe its effect.  And if current conditions of the planet are anything to be concerned about- our constructed realities in the past, may have served us well but may not be as appropriate as we may have thought.

Having developed technological knowledge there is no reason why a new construct of technology cannot be applied to improve technical action; indeed, technological knowledge only becomes fully realised in action. Modern science and the procurement of knowledge itself cannot progress without it... But that is probably a discussion for another time and probably best left to a real philosopher of science and technology. 

Friday, 12 September 2008

Amory Lovins

I cannot help but post a link to an article on Economist.com  [click here].  Amory Lovins from the Rocky Mountain Institute has been very persistent in the face of doubt from others.   His approach can be described as developing holistic technological solutions that help address the urgency for energy efficiency and now the need to address climate change. 

Lovin's work is comparable to ideas and concepts behind Technacy;  i.e. Using knowledge  intellegently to re-organise (agent)  the way things are done (Technical systems and devices)  for the purpose of creating technologies that meet needs, wants and requirements whilst apportioning appropriate value for the eco-resource.

Additionally, Lovins presented some interesting ideas about his Work at 2005 TED conference. Including the idea that less than 1% of the energy produced by an automobile is actually used to transport the person.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

International work in sustainability

Perhaps it is a gross generalisation, but formal education systems can be the last front of change within society [some subject areas more than others].  There has been 20+ years of work done in the area of sustainability, economy etc. Yet this knowledge has in some ways yet to be adequately diffused and accurately represented into Technology Classrooms.  

I thought I might post this title as example of some of the Work being done internationally in Science and technology  and Sustainable development.  Follow the links to read articles free online.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Retreating from an Ocean onslaught

A new study has revealed that measurements taken of the planets rising oceans were inadvertently innacurate.  Unfortunately the correction does not look any better.  click here to read the article 'Scientific sleuths find seas warming, rising faster  This is a great example of how even when someone, highly skilled with a technology to take measurements, it remains open to error.  Interestingly, it was the disciplined logic and thinking that provided insight to correct the knowledge. 

And while on the topic of climate change and rising seas
It seems some people are concerned enough about climate change that they are thinking about how developing a "managed retreat" away from a rising sea.  Though not all fancy the idea. Dare I suggest to notice the profession of one of those who object????

Saturday, 17 May 2008

What might ignorance of technology look like?

Consider this analogy: An animal tries to tear away a morsel of food without realising that it is attached to a lever that has been strategically designed and placed by another "Agent".  The animal has no awareness about this apparently inanimate object that seems to hold the food. It doesn't ask why this food is there in that time and space.  Being blissfully unaware [ignorant] of the system 'at play' beyond its immediate perception.  It simply acts in its own self-interest without considered thought [an instinct] - "food is eaten therefore I eat"... SLAM! It is trapped.

Apply this same thinking to any human technology that has eventually found to have created opportunity for negative impact on civilisation.  

Are we educating young minds to be aware of the technological system 'at play' beyond our immediate perception? 

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Implementing change in a classroom

I was recently asked how to implement change towards more contemporary Technology Education thinking within a resistant traditional school environment. 

May I suggest the best answers lie with those who contribute to literature on Change management and Innovation diffusion.

Upon brief reflection, here are a few things I have found myself adopting in my experiences [in no particular order]. 

1) Do nothing but listen and learn.
As a mentor says to me, "sometimes the best thing to do can be to do nothing at all".   It is best to be sure One is perceiving the circumstance accurately.  Accept any criticism and hostility (yes, hostility happens).  Perhaps you might need to "watch" and learn for a while.  
SO, following technacy principles, we could work out what is going on within the context that you think needs changing because it might not need to change the way you think.   Through a proper analysis you will have the benefit of being able to put forward a clear statement of what really needs changing and how it will be better if things change. AND always seek the best for the students, not self.

2) Steam-train approach (build up energy and ride the thrill)
Just go ahead and change and lead by example.  You might be very surprised, I was.  One might expect to lose students when demanding more written evidence of learning through planning. Interestingly enrollments in that class actually increased and both the gender and capability balance started to even out.  I have also heard advice that to start with, pick one class and change the way you do things in that class.  As long as you are fulfilling your professional responsibilities legally (Syllabus, Safety etc etc) and as long as your conviction is grounded in rational and defensible scholarly evidence.  Always back up your decisions with the best thinking and evidence you possibly can AND be prepared to be found wrong.

3) Show-off your successes (and even failures) 
Invite school leadership to join in some of your classes, to ask students questions etc. I have found my Principals were generally willing to get out of the office [if they could] and get to know what the students were doing in my classes.  That your students are engaged, learning and even excited to be learning in your class will do more to convince parents and administration staff than anything you could pontificate as a self-proclaimed expert.  If your hunches are right then even small successes will show clear advantages for possible change.

4) Grow thick skin
 I find this the most difficult. Be prepared to be labelled and ridiculed behind your back.  Your good intentions (if that is what they are) may be viewed quite differently and One could speculate as to why.  

5) Don't be a ZAX
If you find stubborn opposition then find somewhere else to implement your ideas.   It may also be that you will not succeed in bringing about a change for a variety of reasons (organisational and cultural barriers within institutions, personality clashes, and yes, even an  incomplete personal knowledge base).   I have found [for me at least] that it is best  to suppress the ego and NOT stubbornly stand your ground. If you are stubborn, then the rest of the world will progress regardless and you will miss out on joining in the fun.   SO, I found that to maintain my integrity, it best to step to the side.  Work to progress forward by moving around the obstacle.  Else, you might find yourself becoming a ZAX, unable to learn, grow and develop professionally; becoming stale and critical of everything and every one and refusing to change even when the world around you is doing something else.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Papers, essays etc by Jason E Newcombe

Papers are currently accessable via 'Scribd'. All work is in draft format (pre-publication) only.
Access is via the respective link or by going to SCRIBD directly and conduct a search

This goes directly to my Btn_brn_77x28 profile

Conference presentations

NEWCOMBE, J. & SEEMANN, K. 2008. Skilling out technological intelligence: A skills-climate paradox. Paper presented at the 5th biennial international conference on technology education research: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 27-29 November 2008: Griffith institute for educational research: Griffith University.

NEWCOMBE, J. E. 2006. Core disciplined study of technology: Of value but not valued? In: MIDDLETON, H., PAVLOVA, M. & ROEBUCK, D. (eds.) 4th Biennial International Conference on Technology Education Research Values in Technology Education [CDROM version] Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia 7- 9 December.: Centre for learning research, Griffith University.

NEWCOMBE, J. E. 2004. Expert conceptions of technology education: Convergences and divergences. IPaper presented at the 3rd biennial conference on technology education research-Learning for Innovation in technology. Crowne Plaza, Gold Coast Australia, 9-11 December: Centre of learning research, Griffith University

NEWCOMBE, J. E. 2000. Conceptualising technology educaiton for general education: a delphi study. Bachelor of Technology Education with Honours Unpublished Dissertation, Griffith University.

Magazines and short pieces.

Technology Roman roads. Of course, they "go with out saying". 
This short piece was submitted and published in a modified form within a postgraduate association's annual magazine.

Feeding skills shortages in a technological society: Which ones? where and for how long?
This is an abstract and a brief summary for a Presentation at ‘Praxis 2007’; the Southern Cross university postgraduate association’s multi-disciplinary conference.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

What on earth is Meta- Technacy

Meta- Technacy is really only an emerging concept for the purpose of raising awareness for informed holistic technology understanding.  

Look, words are of little consequence by themselves but what IS powerful are the ideas words represent. First at one level, consider the word roots in layperson terms:  Meta-above, beyond, after, over; Techne-Craft; ~acy-state of, possessing a quality.

So here 'meta' represents the idea that to have learnt knowledge is one thing but to really know how we come to know and to know WHY we know- now that takes a whole other level of awareness and reasoning.
Technacy refers to possessing a rounded capability founded in essential core principles of technology as a phenomena. That is best explained by others... in this peer reviewed journal paper on the Basic Principles and in a general overview in Wikipedia.

SO what is the antithesis position or the alternative to meta-technacy? Ask, what would it mean to NOT have awareness of how you understand the technology around you? Indeed the problem is that it is difficult to actually 'know what you don't know' and all that is left is to somehow be guided in a way that helps you discover your own ignorance.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Welcome Introduction

Hi there, I hope you find some information of interest here. This blog is not intended to be a diary, just a way of sharing some information that may be of use in the study of technology. It is also aimed at at those who have a general interest to understanding the bigger picture as it relates to our material [and digital] world.

The impetus for this site is a frustration in a narrow perception of technology that tends to have dominated since information technologies became such a prominent feature of our society. Perhaps worse is that some education thinking appears to focus on that if you can work a computer you are being technological. I am yet to be convinced that this is all there is to it.
Viewing a computer as technology is not the problem, but the fascination for a piece of silicon-based material that is emits an 'on' or an 'off'? Might not this small device be over-emphasized at the expense of time given to serious consideration the other x% of our technological world? For example, what about all the other forms of technological thinking that goes into producing the personal computer, which, when it reaches your desk, certainly embodies more than a microprocessor and other similar gadgets.

SO, There are links already posted regarding holistic technology education (technacy) and from time-to-time there may be some Slide Presentations, essays and papers posted. In the future there will be lists generated of texts that every student of technology ought read that demonstrates technology has been studied in some depth in our current times since at least the mid to late 1800's. And before then, ancient philosophers also considered technological topics.

Papers, essays etc by Jason E Newcombe


Links Page - Find heaps of online references to Technacy

On this page there are a selection of links.   Some specifically address Technacy knowledge, whilst others make reference to technacy and yet others provide examples of technacy in action.

other technacy links incl. media