“No Digital Facelifts” – Rich Reflection

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“No Digital Facelifts” (Video) by W. Gardner Campbell


In reference to the three recursive practices:

Screenshot of Gardner Campbell gesturing to his slide about the three recursive practices: narrating, curating, and sharing in his talk "No Digital Facelifts" (17:07)

“No Digital Facelifts” (17:07)

“[T]he web is not just a platform for these things, it is the natural outgrowth of our desire for these things. That makes the web itself recursive, and students have an intimation of that, you know, they have a feeling about that from their own use of social media[…]” (17:00).


Gardner proposes three recursive practices as an alternative to the digital facelift: narrating, curating, and sharing. While familiar to anyone in education, Gardner makes a case for these practices not only having a place in our digital world, but that technology “amplifies” their impact (16:22). What I love about the above quote is it that draws attention to our natural attraction to recursive practices. As humans we want that kind of reflection and connection, and have pursued/built online experiences that feed that need. Gardner is right when he says that traditional education “militates against each of these things” (16:05). Recursive practices may be a common topic of discussion, but I would say that it clearly doesn’t drive our education system in the same way product and results do. On the other hand, education on the web is naturally suited to this kind of interaction, because we’ve designed it to be so. Why do we act like it would be such a painful transition? This is how students want to engage online anyway, and with guidance their experience could become more mature and self-designed. It’s time to start taking advantage of the resources inherent to the digital environment.

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