Books I’d like to read

Another list of books for your reading and collection development pleasure.

Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities by Richard A. DeMillo

When academics get together to talk about the future, they talk mainly to each other, but the American system of higher education has many more stakeholders than that. Over the course of months, the intended audience for what was now clearly becoming a book manuscript shifted noticeably from my academic colleagues to a more general readership–parents, students, taxpayers, elected officials, employers, decision makers at all levels–citizens who have a stake in what happens to the nation’s colleges and universities and want to be informed about the forces shaping their future.

This book is intended to reach the many stakeholders in America’s higher education system who are outside the academy, who are not involved in higher education on a daily basis, and whose voices are seldom heard from within. It is not a book of secrets, but I suspect that many readers will be surprised by what they read here. Some of my colleagues will be shocked that the curtain has been parted, but many more will welcome the daylight.

Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy N. Davidson

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.

The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest by Yochai Benkler

For centuries, we as a society have operated according to a very unflattering view of human nature: that, humans are universally and inherently selfish creatures. As a result, our most deeply entrenched social structures – our top-down business models, our punitive legal systems, our market-based approaches to everything from education reform to environmental regulation – have been built on the premise that humans are driven only by self interest, programmed to respond only to the invisible hand of the free markets or the iron fist of a controlling government.

In the last decade, however, this fallacy has finally begun to unravel, as hundreds of studies conducted across dozens of cultures have found that most people will act far more cooperatively than previously believed. Here, Harvard University Professor Yochai Benkler draws on cutting-edge findings from neuroscience, economics, sociology, evolutionary biology, political science, and a wealth of real world examples to debunk this long-held myth and reveal how we can harness the power of human cooperation to improve business processes, design smarter technology, reform our economic systems, maximize volunteer contributions to science, reduce crime, improve the efficacy of civic movements, and more.

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership: An Examination of Grassroots Leaders in Higher Education by Adrianna Kezar and Jaime Lester

Enhancing Campus Capacity for Leadership explores a mostly untapped resource on college campuses–the leadership potential of staff and faculty at all levels. This book contributes to the growing tradition of giving voice to grassroots leaders, offering a unique contribution by honing in on leadership in educational settings. In an increasingly corporatized environment, grassroots leadership can provide a balance to the prestige and revenue seeking impulses of campus leaders, act as a conscience for institutional operations with greater integrity, create changes related to the teaching and learning core, build greater equity, improve relationships among campus stakeholders, and enhance the student experience.

The text documents the stories of grassroots leaders, including the motivation and background of these “bottom up” beacons, the tactics and strategies that they use, the obstacles they overcome, and the ways that they navigate power and join with formal authority. This investigation also showcases how grassroots leaders in institutional settings, particularly more marginalized groups, can face significant backlash. While we like to believe that organizations are civil and humane, the stories in this book demonstrate a dark side with which we must reckon. The book ends with a discussion of the future of leadership on college campuses, examining the possibilities for shared and collaborative forms of leadership and governance.

Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education by Will Richardson

The Internet now connects us in unprecedented ways. We have access to tools will allow us to build global learning networks where we can pursue our intellectual and creative passions with people around the world. As educators, these networked opportunities present a very big challenge. To prepare students to flourish in this new learning world, schools will need to transform themselves in important ways. Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education is a road map to follow down the path to that transformation.

Using step-by-step advice and real-world stories, this book aims to narrow the technological divide, put educators on the same footing as students, and provide a recipe for incorporating these tools into every classroom.

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing by Lisa Gansky

Traditional businesses follow a simple formula: create a product or service, sell it, collect money. But in the last few years a fundamentally different model has taken root-one in which consumers have more choices, more tools, more information, and more peer-to-peer power. Pioneering entrepreneur Lisa Gansky calls it the Mesh and reveals why it will soon dominate the future of business.

Mesh companies use social media, wireless networks, and data crunched from every available source to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright. Gansky reveals how there is real money to be made and trusted brands and strong communities to be built in helping your customers buy less but use more.

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