Blog Post

Future of Thinking? Send Us Questions for HASTAC 2010!

*Disclaimer from the Hastac team: This is a legacy page for the HASTAC 2010 conference. Please note not all links work or link to pages that no longer exist*

We're very excited about the HASTAC 2010:  Grand Challenges and Global Innovations coming up April 15-17.  It's a virtual conference, with events being planned worldwide and coordinated by HASTAC leader and one of our co-founders Kevin Franklin plus doctoral student Jennifer Guiliano, and others at UIUC.  We'll let you know more as it becomes available.


In the meantime, David and I are thinking ahead to our address on "The Future of Thinking:  Learning Institutions in a Digital Age."   We will have a bicoastal conversation, and then a live chat, still in the planning stages.   So we'd love you to send us questions that might form the basis of that conversation on any aspect of our educational futures.   You can use the Comments section below for that purpose.  We'd love to hear from you.  We'll be taping our conversation on Wednesday March 17 so make sure to get us your questions before then!


The conversation is based on our book THE FUTURE OF THINKING:  LEARNING INSTITUTIONS IN A DIGITAL AGE (MIT Press, 2010) and available on a free download here: There's a link in the left sidebar that you can click on.


Here's general information about the virtual HASTAC conference, HASTAC 2010: Grand Challenges and Global Innovations Conference;

HASTAC is delighted to announce the HASTAC 2010: Grand Challenges and Global Innovations Conference. Held April 15-17, 2010 and hosted by the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science at the University of Illinois, HASTAC 2010: Grand Challenges and Global Innovations will be a free, entirely virtual event held in a multiplicity of digital spaces instigated from sites across the globe.

This years event will focus on grand challenges and global innovations in the form of technologies, research, teaching, and inquiry that can be leveraged across personal, physical, geographical, institutional, disciplinary, and organizational boundaries.  HASTAC 2010 seeks to ask: what are the influence(s) of virtual spaces that can transcend boundaries to impact global innovations?  How will the next generation of digital technologies alter personal, physical, geographical, institutional, disciplinary, and organizational boundaries?  What are the grand challenges in humanities, arts, and sciences that will shape the next generation of global innovation?

In the spirit of including digital innovators from across the globe, HASTAC 2010 will feature:

Keynote events hosted at research centers from across the globe during the conference.  Confirmed virtual hub participants include: Georg-August-Universitt Gttingen (GAUG, Germany), Kings College London (KCL, UK),  Laboratrio Nacional de Computao Cientfica (LNCC, Brazil), the Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Fusionopolis (Singapore), El Centro Nacional de Alta Tecnologa (CeNAT, Costa Rica), National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA, USA), Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC, USA), the Center for Computation and Technology, Louisiana State University (CCT, USA), the Center for Computational Sciences University of Kentucky (CCS, USA), the National University Community Research Institute (NUCRI, USA), Duke University (DU, USA), the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI, USA), the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH, USA), the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC, USA), the Institute for Multimedia Literacy, University of Southern California (IML, USA), the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI, USA), the University of California, Berkeley Tele-Immersion Lab (UCB, USA) and the New York City College of Technology (CITYTECH, USA).  

To foster innovation in research, HASTAC 2010 will feature special sessions on:

Young scholars where undergraduate and graduate students can present works in progress and receive support and feedback from the HASTAC community.

Disciplinary pedagogy where participants can explore the meaning of global innovation with the teaching of digital humanities, arts, and sciences.


Conference: April 15-17, 2010

 Points of Contact

Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1205 W. Clark St., MC-257

Urbana, Illinois 61820 with HASTAC 2010 in the Subject Line





A very interesting question given your theme is the role of institutions as opposed to loosely formed learning communities that gather around a certain question or set of questions. It relates also to the idea of the institutional repository which implicitly suggests that the work produced for other communities of learning (journals, conferences, etc.) may have value to an institution.


My colleague and I just had a heated discusssion (invigorating, challenging) in response to a Tweet about the limitations created by requiring participants to log-in or sign-in (I called it joining a community) as a pre-requisite to engaging in a conversation by adding written comments to a blog.  My colleague holds to the earliest spirit and intent of Weblogs and argues that blogs that are not completely open for everyone in terms of reading and writing are not truly"blogs", and he remains unpersuaded that there are differences between  the  expected interactions in micro-blogging environment (Twitter) and  in "community" blogs such as this one. 

After one hour and a half of passionate discussion about the norms and rules surrounding collaborative spaces, I am asking the question that was originally asked by the Tweeter:  "Why do we (in HASTAC) require a log-in in order to respond in a blog? How and why do the same people who use Twitter to communicate "lock" their own blogs to those in the wider community who would like to comment?

For me, the answer included open-mouthed disbelief that the step of "logging in" was considered such an affront to free communication. However, the discussion that ensued was rich and nuanced with generational, constructivist, anti-elitist murmurings about OERs.

The question may seem a bit trivial at first blush, but I find it worth pursuing in light of two of the framing questions of the April 15-17 Conference: "What are the influences of virtual spaces that can transcend boundaries to impact global innovations?" ; "How will the next generation of digital technologies alter personal, physical, geograhical, instittutional, disciplinary and organizational boundaries?"


I just answered this on Jim Groom's blog.  There is no ideological or absolutely good reason.  It is mostly pragmatics.  We are a FREE organization and most of what we do is voluntary.  We don't have the staff to be policing comments and unmoderated comments, such as those on YouTube, are demoralizing.   We've made a choice to put our energies into our community.  We try to respond to comments, we promote the work of our members, we blog and tweet, we are a network and an informations commons, we put on conferences and workshops.  That's a lot for an organization that operates across disciplines, institutions, organizations, and charges no dues and collects no fees.  We do not ever sell our mailing list to anyone.  We email the HASTAC members less than six times a month with information about the various aspects of our community.  


And we host Forums for 120 graduate and undergraduate students.  The Forums tend to be meaty, important, sincere, often brilliant, sometimes controversial--and not full of YouTube style trash comments.  If we are hosting forums on race, or on gender and sexuality, we want comments from those who have agreed to our community standards.  Providing a space for serious exchange, including on controversial topics (the kind that garner rude and sometimes hateful comments), is part of our commitment to support junior scholars.  Building a community where junior scholars exchange ideas in an engaged and yet civil fashion is part of our mission, part of building the future.  And that's where our energy goes. 


Would we also love to be open so that absolutely anyone could leave a comment and then we would spend time moderating?  Sure.  Of course we would.   And if we ever raise funds to support someone who can be dedicated to that task, we will.  As it is, I'd rather push out content and help to be a network than do the other.   It's a choice, a highly imperfect one, but we live in a limited and imperfect world. 


As it is, we spend about three hours per week, maybe five, moderating registrations because of human spammers.   If you are interested, you can read about this saga here: 


We also turned to the Drupal developer community for suggestions, but we've tried all.  And have gone back to human, time-consuming moderation.  Frustrating!  Moderating potentially unproductive, uncivil, or even rude comments is simply more than we can handle at this time.   Another time?  When we have some fat endowment?  We'd be delighted.   For now, we're doing our best, full aware that it's far from perfect.


Thanks for taking the time to write and, even more, taking the time to have this conversation.  That's what the spirit of the Web is about.



Dear Akeck:   Thanks for this great question about the relative role of institutions as opposed to loosely formed learning communities.


Schools are the most widespread formal institution of learning.  At least in the U.S.,  they are travelling along a path that diverges markedly from on-line learning communities.  Just this week, the big "Ah-ha" in the world of schools is the move by 48 states to converge on a single set of standards.  In contrast, learning communities seem to be continually morphing and expanding to meet the many interests and needs of those within them.  Yet, I suspect schools are not going to disappear.  This makes me think that the two modes --  the static and uniform institution of public school and the rapidly morphing world of on-line learning communities -- serve as yin and yang, Parmenides and Heraclitus, fulfilling together the need for stasis and change,that each, alone, may not provide.  What do you think? 


I'd like to ask the question to those in education. Do you see Virtual Schools replacing the brick and mortar school? It makes sense to have smaller, (maybe learning pods) to help children concentrate on material. So many children are disrupted in their learning from others who act out. More and more teachers are inclined to spend time disciplining than teaching. Putting together kids of various ages to help each other learn, understanding various learning styles (using technology), smaller groups with more concentrated learning and getting away from the children sitting in rows makes more sense. Technology has created change in so many areas, but the school system seems to try and keep these large buildings, old styles of learning, and discipline that does not work.

Children love to learn and love to be empowered by learning, many rebel to sitting in a chair and feeling forced to take in information that they do not see as personalized to them. If office buildings had small schools attached to them and children could start seeing the practical use of technology early, maybe even start a trade early, we would have fewer problems. Kids today are social..we have to change with them.


Virtual schools are not going to replace brick and mortar schools, IMHO, even though VSs have much to commend them.  Part of the issue is, with all the physical infrastructure, employment, and childcare they provide, BMS fulfill many other functions besides education.  Education plays an ever decreasing role in BMS, in part because the test-based reforms of the last decade+ have undercut genuine intellectual engagement by many students and teachers,and in part because other venues' (digital media) educational offerings and access are rising.  Even so, there's a long literature on how people from marginalized communities want "REAL" schools, not some progressive, new fangled, fancy replacements.  So, e.g., when you look at some urban academies serving high poverty, high minority populations, the students in them are often wearing uniforms and engaged in quite traditional school activities.  There's competition to get admitted to such places and oftentimes long waiting lists.  This school population (high poverty, high minority) is an increasing percentage of the school demographic.  So, VSs might be very good for providing lots of things that schools don't provide, e.g., learner-driven inquiry, intellectual community, world-wide exchanges, etc., but they are not going to push out BMS anytime in the next 50 years, IMHO. 


I'd like to know if it is, in your opinions, worth investing time and instruction into metacognitive awareness at schools (and to what degree).

A recent issue of the Economist featured a special report on the difficulties the world faces with organizing the deluge of information now available thanks to technology and, perhaps ironically, suggested that metadata (that is, data about data) might be one method of managing all this information.

Similarly, I am of the opinion that as a deluge of information (streaming online video, video conferencing, social networks, blogs, wikis, collaborative cloud based tools, etc.) invades our schools and not only competes for the time and attention of our students but also our teachers (and their methodologies), metacognitive skills will have a huge role to play in helping students sort their own personal learning wheat from their personal learning chaff.

Love the blog, -Joe


Cathy and David's book is available as a free download at There's a link in the left sidebar that you can click on.



It took awhile to get my thoughts organized, they follow the lines of MindyK above, noting that contemporaneous with your question topic, there are national leaders who don't seem to be in on the conversation aboout the imlications of the Internet on thinking and learning. My question became a long post, scroll to the bottom for the one line question -- above is context.

PS. Hope this gets to you in time.




We'll be able to get in the short form of a question that applies to your good comment and the ones aboe, Nils.  Many thanks.