What’s the best book about emerging technologies and education? A syllabus query.

In one month my emerging technologies and education seminar will begin (Emerging Tech and Education – 17121 – LDES 707 – 01).  Already the syllabus is crystallizing, like some cross between a Transformer toy and a Max Ernst painting.

One hole yawns wide in the syllabus – for me, at least.  I can’t choose a good book for my students.

I have plenty of articles, several videos, some podcasts, but no monograph, textbook, or other book-length title to share.

Digging into the topic yields books on emerging technology…. circa 2010.  Not to mention good books on tech that’s already emerged, as it were: mobile, social media, video, etc.

Should I use Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s Online & Blended Learning: Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies (2017) (Amazon)?  I have a copy in storage, but haven’t gotten to read it yet.  Or Charles Fadel, Wayne Holmes, and Maya Bialik’s just-released Artificial Intelligence In Education: Promises and Implications for Teaching and Learning (Amazon), which I also haven’t read? Or is there another book lurking out there?  Or perhaps I should have them read something less technical per se, but still relevant, like Joseph Aoun’s Robot-Proof (2017) (which I can’t assign, since they’ve all already read it).

Alternatively, I could pick a science fiction novel that concerns education, like Rainbows End (2006) or The Highest Frontier (2013).

Or… is this something my class shouldn’t do?  Perhaps the topic is too new for a book-length work to have gone through the multi-year publication process.  Or maybe the combination of topic and timeline (just one month, with plenty of other work going on, and most of the students working) makes including a full length book too much.

I believe firmly in teaching nonfiction books.  I want students to get more practice reading sustained academic argument.  They need exposure to the full range of research a book brings to bear.

Or should this just be the topic of my next book?

Any recommendations?  And thanks in advance!


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14 Responses to What’s the best book about emerging technologies and education? A syllabus query.

  1. Christopher M. Davis says:

    Once upon a time I taught a course in planning in a community college leadership doctoral program. I decided on the no book approach. I used a collection of articles from both strategic planning and higher education.

    Way back in the 1990s, I taught an intro course on the Internet and Web that required they read a book from the fiction world. Unfortunately I have lost that syllabus and the book list. At the time and I still believe that exposing students to speculative fiction is important. I would suggest Diamond Age. It is short, and more than any other book I have read provides a vision of learning.

    • Danielle Mirliss says:

      I read the Diamond Age for an Instructional Tech grad class at Columbia. I agree that it would be a good addition.

      • Bryan Alexander says:

        Good one, Danielle. Is it possible to get Diamond Age and just the “Primer” section?

        Christopher, I’m always up for sf!

  2. Ed Webb says:

    If past is prologue, maybe something like: https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Book-Printing-1450-1800-History/dp/1844676331/ or Elizabeth Eisenstein’s history of the printing press could be provocative?

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      History of the book and printing… I like this, but fear I won’t have time.
      Now, my fall seminar on innovation and technology? Oh yeah!

  3. Your pal Carrie says:

    Have the class write chapters on various topics from the student perspective on Ed tech.

  4. Bill Meador says:


    THANKS for ALL you do to keep us looking forward…

    A couple of suggestions for your upcoming seminar…first, NO book…I agree with what you wrote above, “…the topic is too new for a book-length work to have gone through the multi-year publication process.”

    I would suggest “current” articles and reports, etc., some of which I get via a variety of Google Alerts…”future of education”, “future of learning”, “future of (whatever)”…

    Also, maybe check with Dr. Peter Bishop at TeachTheFuture.org to see what “open” resources he might have for helping folks understand how to develop their “foresight”…

    One final idea, let seminar participants find / suggest / share their own “best” resources, too…


  5. I agree that either ‘no book’ or a book about past educational technologies like the printing press or even literacy (Orality and Literacy by Ong, for example). Whether through book or articles, I hope you’ll devote substantial attention to
    A. Why touted revolutionary technologies rarely have any impact on the fabric of higher education, and
    B. What examples of new or newish technologies have had such an impact? What do those examples have in common?

    Hint: most of the examples I know use digital technology originally developed for purposes other than teaching, e.g., word processors, online discussion

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Ong is a good one. I might have to save that for my fall class, which concerns technological innovation and has four months to sprawl in.

      Love those concepts. Isn’t it fascinating how tech moves in and out of academia?

  6. Warren Blyth says:

    I’m over my head here (I don’t select texts for courses). but. After reading Douglas Rushkoff’s “Program or Be Programmed” I remember thinking every kid wandering out into emerging tech should read it. It’s short (maybe like a political manifesto?).
    Mostly focused on the idea that if you don’t understand the emerging systems you’re interacting with – then you’re at their mercy. But also some nice little nuggets about how you should act when interacting with the whole world at once, and what is required for meaningful human interaction.

  7. Joe Bires says:

    I have to suggest Tony Bates’ Teaching in a Digital Age.


    Not that you read the whole book chapter-by-chapter in one class; but there is so much ‘meat on the bone’ in that book; it does a good job of focusing on teaching and learning rather than the technology. Also, the author keeps it up to date.

    I have found that often students we teach come from diverse backgrounds in edtech and all students may not have common prior experiences or skills in edtech and the book helps a class develop a common language around how to think about teaching and learning with technology.

    Also, it is one of the few books I have used that after I assign a chapter, the students come back telling me that they found a whole bunch of other chapters interesting and they decide on their own to read more chapters I didn’t even assign because they found the book so reliant, accessible, and meaningful to them.

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