Computers in Education - Outside-in Vision

      My first vision of the use of computers in education was based on an electronic data terminal which I carried around with me so that I could get information from databases over its built-in modem. Fast Eddy (as I called it) and I were partners. As in any partnership, there was a division of labor. As in any division of labor, each of us does what he(she) can do best.

      What can Fast Eddy do best? He can memorise. He already knows dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopaedias, bibliographical sources like Psych Abstracts and ERIC, the contents of many major newspapers over the last several years, and many other vast sources of information. Some day, he will have the Library of Congress at his (sorry, my) fingertips. I'll never know a millionth of what he knows now. Nor would I ever want to. Why clutter up that very personal home computer between my ears (that is, my brain) with all this content? Why become a computer when I can buy one?

      What remains for me to do? Fast Eddy's full name is Electronic Data Terminal. Note his middle name. Data is a very low-level form of content. Data must be put into context to yield information, which must in turn be put in context to yield knowledge, which must be put in context to yield understanding, which must be put in context to yield wisdom. Eddy is good at content and I am good at context. Or, to use my earlier terms, he is good at the outside-in information-providing aspect of teaching and I am good at the inside-out inspiration-creating aspect of teaching. By assigning the mechanical aspect of content to the machine, the person is freed for the human aspect of context and can thus move up the hierarchy from data to information to knowledge to understanding to wisdom.

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