Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21s t Century

Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21s t Century

3.5 9
by Cathy N. Davidson

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A digital innovator shows how we can thrive in the new technological age.

When Cathy Davidson and Duke University gave free iPods to the freshman class in 2003, critics said they were wasting their money. Yet when students in practically every discipline invented academic uses for their music players, suddenly the idea could be seen in a new light-asSee more details below


A digital innovator shows how we can thrive in the new technological age.

When Cathy Davidson and Duke University gave free iPods to the freshman class in 2003, critics said they were wasting their money. Yet when students in practically every discipline invented academic uses for their music players, suddenly the idea could be seen in a new light-as an innovative way to turn learning on its head.

This radical experiment is at the heart of Davidson's inspiring new book. Using cutting-edge research on the brain, she shows how attention blindness" has produced one of our society's greatest challenges: while we've all acknowledged the great changes of the digital age, most of us still toil in schools and workplaces designed for the last century. Davidson introduces us to visionaries whose groundbreaking ideas-from schools with curriculums built around video games to companies that train workers using virtual environments-will open the doors to new ways of working and learning. A lively hybrid of Thomas Friedman and Norman Doidge, Now You See It is a refreshingly optimistic argument for a bold embrace of our connected, collaborative future.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Davidson (The Future of Thinking) offers a stunning new vision for the future, showing how the latest advances in brain research could revolutionize education and workplace management. Davidson, formerly a vice provost at Duke and now codirector of the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital and Media Learning Competitions, begins with the concept of "attention blindness," a basic principle of neuroscience stating that individuals only see a portion of the world in front of them. Davidson asks how, whether working alone or collaboratively, we might overcome this deficit and gain a broader perspective on our mental and physical surroundings. She interviews pioneers who have demonstrated amazing success in accomplishing this goal. Her focus ranges from startup charter schools in rural North Carolina to IBM, demonstrating how to move to a world that recognizes the rich interrelationships inherent in the 21st century. Duke, for instance, allowed students to bring digital experience to their (and their professors') educational experience by giving students iPods and asking them to "dream up learning applications." Davidson has produced an exceptional and critically important book, one that is all-but-impossible to put down and likely to shape discussions for years to come. (Aug.)
Howard Gardner
“Cathy Davidson has one of the most interesting and wide ranging minds in contemporary scholarship, a mind that ranges comfortably over literary arts, literacy, psychology, and brain science... Her ambitious and timely book is certain to attract a lot of attention and to catalyze many discussions.”
Howard Rheingold
"One cutting edge of educational practice is participatory learning…and one frontier of brain research is what is happening to our attention in the always-on era. Cathy Davidson is a natural to bring together these neuroscientific and educational themes."
Christopher Chabris
"Her book 'Now You See It' celebrates the brain as a lean, mean, adaptive multitasking machine that — with proper care and feeding — can do much more than our hidebound institutions demand of it. . . Davidson is such a good storyteller, and her characters are well drawn."
John Seely Brown
Now You See It is simply fantastic. Only Cathy Davidson could pull off such a sweeping book. It is about so much more than just education or even learning. It is about a way of being. Her book and stories are incredibly important for the true arc of life learning and for constantly becoming!"
Dan Ariely
“The technological changes around us are of unprecedented proportions... In this book Cathy Davidson integrates findings from psychology, attention, neuroscience, and learning theory to help us get a glimpse of the future and more importantly a better understanding of our own individual potential."
Anya Kamenetz
?"A remarkable new book Now You See It offers a fresh and reassuring perspective on how to manage anxieties about the bewildering pace of technological change. . . . Her work is the most powerful yet to insist that we can … manage the impact of these changes.”
William Pannapacker
“There is an emerging consensus that higher education has to change significantly, and Davidson makes a compelling case for the ways in which digital technology, allied with neuroscience, will play a leading role in that change.”
Virginia Hefferman
"In her galvanic new book, Ms. Davidson, one of the nation’s great digital minds, has written an immensely enjoyable omni-manifesto. Rooted in . . . rigorous history, philosophy and science, this book . . . doubles as an optimistic, even thrilling, summer read.”
Mark Changizi
"The author takes us on a journey through contemporary classrooms and offices to describe how they are changing—or, according to her, should change. . . .Now You See It is filled with instructive anecdotes and genuine insights."
Steve Wheeler
“Humorous, poignant, entertaining, endearing, touching and challenging. It is a book I would happily recommend to anyone engaged in teaching at any level … It is devised to convince readers that the human mind is ready for the next quantum advance into our collective future.”
Joshua Kim
“Practice Collaboration by Difference: This idea is stolen directly from Cathy N. Davidson's marvelous book, Now You See It. . . .If innovation is our goal then we must pay careful attention to the diversity of the people around our project tables.”
Bruce Bower
“[Davidson] makes a provocative case for radical educational and business reforms. . . . Davidson's call to experiment with digital schemes that turn students and workers into motivated problem solvers rings as clear as a bell atop a little red schoolhouse."
Brian Mossop
“The book's purpose and strength are in detailing the important lessons we can glean from the online world. If Davidson is right, 21st-century society will move away from categorizing people based on standardized tests, which are crude measures of intelligence at best. Instead we will define new metrics, ones that are better aligned with the skills needed to succeed in the shifting global marketplace. And those who cannot embrace this multidisciplinary world will simply be left behind.”
Sophie Duvernoy
“Davidson's claim that mono-tasking (the idea that a person can focus on one single task at hand) is an unrealistic model of how the brain works, seems strikingly persuasive. Davidson also calls for a reform in education . . . [that] helps kids become multitasking, problem-solving thinkers."
Kirkus Reviews

A preview of the future from an educational innovator.

Davidson (The Future of Thinking, 2010, etc.), who codirects the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning competitions, describes an experiment where most of a group told to count passes between basketball players in a short film fails to spot a person who walks through the scene in a gorilla suit. Too- focused attention can miss something unexpected. The author takes this insight as a key to examine the nature of attention, which she believes has deep roots in the educational system created to fill jobs where workers arrive at a given time and perform a specific task in tight coordination with other workers. As Davidson notes, students who don't respond well to these expectations are pigeonholed as misfits, slow learners, troublemakers or worse. But brain research indicates that the educational establishment is out of step; it is becoming clear that our minds are capable of multitasking to a degree far beyond what the 20th-century assembly-line worker or middle manager was trained to do. After a brief introductory chapter, Davidson offers several examples of how the schools and workplaces of the future might look. Duke University's 2003 experiment of giving the entire freshman class free iPods drew widespread scorn, but the experiment justified itself as students found innovative ways to use the devices in the classroom and lab. The administration grasped the iPod's capability to connect the students' work for group projects, such as a podcasting conference that distributed a lecture on Shakespeare worldwide. Elementary-school children are learning by using computer games, and other schools are abandoning traditional class structure to reach children who might be left behind in conventional schools. The revolution is reaching the workplace, as well—notably at IBM, where a significant portion of the workforce now telecommutes and many workgroups are spread out over three continents, connecting by teleconferencing. Further, the military is making heavy use of video games in training soldiers to use new weapons systems.

Davidson may oversell the revolution in thinking—there's a lot of cheerleading here—but her points are worth pondering.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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