Bugeja to participate in debate on education reform by The Economist magazine

AMES, Iowa -- Michael Bugeja has been quite public about how he sees students being distracted in the classroom by today's technology. The director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, he's expressed that opinion through his articles in The Futurist, The Chronicle of Higher Education and InsideHigherEd.com, among others.

That may explain why Bugeja was invited to participate in a new online debate series The Economist magazine is launching on its Web site (see link). He will take part in the series' third online debate, on social networking and education, which starts Tuesday, Jan. 15.

"We think Dr. Bugeja is a credible voice on this issue, both in background and his position," said Ben Edwards, publisher of Economist.com, who extended the invitation.

Author of the books "Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age" and "Living Ethics across media platforms," both by Oxford University Press, Bugeja was asked by Edwards to debate the following proposition: "The house believes that social networking technologies will bring large [positive] changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom."

Bugeja's argument, available online on Jan. 15, may be similar to ones that he has made in "Interpersonal Divide," which won the Clifford G. Christians award for research in media ethics and whose theories have been cited by national and international media.

His latest research is available at http://www.interpersonal-divide.org.

"Basically," Bugeja says, "I say the same thing in each forum. I analyze technology from a scientific rather than consumer perspective, which you might expect me to do at an institution of science and technology."

Using this standpoint, Bugeja was among the first to criticize Facebook in The Chronicle of Higher Education before many professors even realized that most of their students had registered on it. He was among the first to criticize the virtual-life game Second Life before most students even realized that their institutions had purchased "islands."

He is vigilant about the cost to the taxpayer.

Bugeja has advocated in the past for a required course to help students discern motives of interfaces and applications so that they can make decisions on whether they want to use their credit cards to access and utilize consumer technology.

The debate on The Economist's web site will take place over eight days. It will be moderated by Economist Editor Robert Cottrell. Readers will be invited to comment from the floor and then cast a vote either for or against the proposition. During rebuttal and summation, the moderator may invite debaters to address specific points raised by the floor. A winner will be declared at the debate's conclusion.

The Economist is a weekly news and international affairs publication edited in London. Economist.com ranks as well as one of the most reliable sources for the analysis of world business and current affairs.