GVU Center Brown Bag: Disrupt Education or Make It Better? The Rhetoric & Implementation of Educational Technology


Karen Head’s book Disrupt This!: MOOCs and the Promises of Technology (UPNE, 2017) employs a rhetorical lens to deconstruct and analyze some of the arguments and vision statements found in early texts advocating for the disruption of higher education through technology. Head considers what the authors are saying, what they are leaving unsaid, and how their choices of each are meant to influence colleagues, policy-makers, and the public. She highlights the critical questions of who is influencing education, with what expertise, and to what end—that is, she poses the question: Is our goal to simply tip over the apple cart and disrupt education, or is to make it better?
Mark Guzdial’s research explores one of the important themes in Head’s work—that we will make the most progress in improving education by combining expertise in education, in technology, and in specific disciplines. We do not teach effectively in Communications, History, Engineering, or Computing in exactly the same way. To design educational technology that helps students learn, we have to collaborate across our disciplinary silos and be successful at the individual level before we attempt scale.

Speaker Bios:

Karen Head is Executive Director of the Communication Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as the Associate Chair and Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. Since 2006, she has been a Visiting Scholar at Technische Universität-Dortmund, Germany, where she serves as the primary consultant for their academic center. Her research areas focus on writing and communication theory and pedagogical practice, especially in the following areas: higher education rhetoric, sustainable and innovative pedagogy and space design implementation, development of writing centers, writing program administration, communication ecologies, technical communication, business communication, multidisciplinary communication, and creative writing.

Her book Disrupt This!: MOOCs and the Promises of Technology (University Press of New England, 2017) describes her experience teaching a MOOC and the attendant pressure on professors, especially those in the humanities, to embrace new technologies in the STEM era. She has also published four books of poetry, co-edited the poetry anthology about teaching, and has exhibited several acclaimed digital poetry projects.

Mark Guzdial is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. He studies how people come to understand computing and how to make that more effective. He leads the CSLearning4U project to create ebooks to help high school teachers and students learn CS. He is one of the leaders on the NSF alliance “Expanding Computing Education Pathways" which helps US states improve and broaden their computing education. With his wife and colleague, Barbara Ericson, he received the 2010 ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator award.  He is an ACM Distinguished Educator and a Fellow of the ACM.    

Event Details


    Technology Square Research Building, 1st Floor Ballroom, Atlanta, Ga


  • Thursday, October 12, 2017
    11:30 am - 1:00 pm