Author Sherry Turkle to Discuss Learning in a Digital Age

First-year students to participate in technology-free day

Author and professor Sherry Turkle will give a talk based on her new book, "Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other" (Basic Books, January 2011) on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hogan Campus Center Ballroom at the College of the Holy Cross. The event is sponsored by the Center for Teaching in collaboration with Student Affairs and is free and open to the public.  The talk will be followed by a book signing. 

Turkle’s talk will explore the new intimacies, solitudes, and ethical dilemmas of our digital age. “Technology proposes itself an architect of our intimacies. And these days, networked devices offer substitutes for direct face-to-face connection with people. As we instant message, e-mail, text, and Twitter, the network redraws the boundaries between intimacy and solitude,” shares Turkle. “What this means is that we often find ourselves too busy communicating to think, too busy communicating to create, and in a final irony, too busy communicating to connect in the ways that matter.” 

“Sherry Turkle’s new book raises questions on how students are growing up and learning in a digital era,” explains Amy Wolfson, director of the Center for Teaching. “It’s important to discuss and think about how we are using technology in the classroom today.” 

Many students in Montserrat, the College’s unique program for all first-year students, are reading Turkle’s book in their classes. In conjunction with the talk, on Feb. 17 all first-year students will take part in a technology-free day, by disconnecting from the internet and cell phones for 24 hours. “The event is an opportunity to challenge ourselves to become more mindful of how the constant presence of certain technologies—the web, texting, and social networking—shapes our experience of the world around us and our relationships with one another,” explains Denise Schaeffer, director of Montserrat. “The goal is to create some space to reflect critically on a part of today’s world that influences our lives in ways we may not realize, since we almost never step back from it.” 

Turkle is a professor, author, consultant, researcher, and licensed clinical psychologist who has spent the last 30 years researching the psychology of people’s relationships with technology. She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her many books include a trilogy on digital technology and human relationships: "The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit" (The MIT Press, 2005), "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet" (Simon & Schuster, 1997), and most recently, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other."