On Public Communication of Science and Technology with Professor Bruce Lewenstein

From the museums of the fifteenth century, to the public lectures of Michael Faraday in the nineteenth century, and to various science fairs & festivals of the twenty-first century, public engagement of science has evolved immensely. Public engagement of science in this age of hyper connectivity is “a multidimensional and multi-directional activity”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with professor Bruce Lewenstien, a widely-known authority on public communication of science and technology.

Bruce Lewenstein is a professor of science communication at Cornell University. He has done extensive work on how science and technology are reported to the public and how the public understands complex and sometimes contested scientific issues. He studies and documents the ways that public communication of science is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.

We begin by discussing the “multidimensional” and “multidirectional” nature of science communication. We then focus on the evolution of science communication from the early days of science to present time. We touch upon the huge impact on the public understanding of science that few books published in the mid-twentieth century had. We discuss in detail documentaries such as “The Ascent of Man” and “Cosmos” and the emergence of the phenomenon of “celebrity scientists”. The effectiveness of science communication in the age of information overload and in the age of misinformation and disinformation is an important topic that we discuss. We then discuss the challenges faced by the process of science communication and the societal challenges that effective science communication can help us to deal with.

Complement this discussion with A Passion for Ignorance” and for Denials and Negations with Professor Renata Salecl and then listen to “Philosophy of Information” and “Ethics of Information”.

By |February 12th, 2022|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts, Research, Technology|

“Learning How to Learn”: Techniques to Help You Learn with Dr Barbra Oakley (CLASSIC)

Learning How to Learn

Humans have fundamental ability and cognitive resources to learn new concepts and acquire new skills and knowledge, although this may not seem natural to most of us at first. The key is to understand how the brain works so we can harness its potential by developing and adopting learning techniques that are effective and more rewarding. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Barbara Oakley about “Learning how to learn”. Dr. Oakley encourages learners to recognize that everyone learns differently. Recognizing the benefits and drawbacks of various learning approaches depending on a learner’s natural brain functioning, she argues, is the first step in learning how to handle new information.

Dr Barbara Oakley is a professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is an inaugural “Innovation Instructor” at Coursera, an online course provider, where she co-taught one of the world’s most popular massive open online course “Learning How to Learn”. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior. She has written many books including “Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens”. Her book “Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential” is also relevant to this discussion.

We start the conversation by discussing Dr Oakley’s education and professional journey, which led to her developing interest in “Learning how to learn”. We then discussed our present understanding that how learning occurs in the brain and how the brain acquires new knowledge. Dr Oakley explains why it is important to understand the working and functioning of the brain for developing and adopting effective learning techniques. Mindshift on Bridging the Gaps She then explains a number of effective techniques for effective learning such as when to focus and when to take a break, she discusses significance of practice and being persistent. Dr Oakley then discusses in detail the effectiveness of Pomodoro technique. We then discuss the future of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and universities in the age of online teaching and learning. We also touch upon the possible impact of over-reliance on and excessive use of technology for online learning.

Complement this discusion with Growth Mindset: A Must Have Tool for Success with Professor Carol Dweck and then listen to
And then listen to Education: What works and what does not, with Professor John Hattie. Also listen to Multiple Intelligences, Future Minds and Educating The App Generation: A discussion with Dr Howard Gardner.

By |January 3rd, 2022|Knowledge, Neuroscience, Podcasts, Research|

History of Information with Professor Paul Duguid

Over centuries “information has shaped and been shaped by human society”, writes professor Paul Duguid at the start of the book “Information: A Historical Companion”. Duguid is one of the editors of this book that reconstructs the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. The book is organised in thirteen long-form chapters and more than hundred short-form entries in a list of thematic objects, tools and concepts that are critical for our understanding of information. Each long-form chapter discusses the role of information at an important point in time in the history, at a particular geographical setting. Written by an international team of experts, “Information: A Historical Companion” is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive and a large publication. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Paul Duguid, a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the editors of this book.

We start our discussion by exploring the concept of “information age” and addressing the question: has every age been an information age or is this title unique to this present time. We then discuss the significance of viewing history through the lens of information and viewing information through the lens of history. We also discuss our over reliance on information in the present time and the impact of increased volume and velocity of misinformation and disinformation on society. Professor Paul Duguid then discusses few entries in the list of thematic objects, concepts and tools. This has been a fascinating discussion, particularly for those who are keen to study our obsession with an informed existence.

Complement this podcast with the fascinating discussion with Professor Luciano Floridi on the Philosophy of Information and then listen to Professor Jürgen Renn on the Evolution of Knowledge and Rethinking Science for The Anthropocene.

By |April 19th, 2021|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts|