This division of labor was my first simple-minded notion of the appropriate relationship between the teacher and the computer. It is simple-minded because it simply slots the computer into the traditional outside-in framework of education. This has typically been the fate of the computer as used in education to date. In trying to understand the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar, new technology X is seen as old technology Y with difference Z. Film, for example, was first viewed (and therefore used) as theatre in front of a camera so that a play can be preserved and re-presented later. Television was, in turn, viewed and used as a box in which to bury old movies, so that they can be viewed in one's own home. The fuller unique potential of each medium began to be realised only when it had escaped this limited rear-view mirror perspective.

      The computer is now going through this initial phase. It is being used as a new box in which to bury old media. It is being view as Y (familiar thing) with difference Z. Because it is such a versatile machine, there are a number of rival Ys. For example, the computer is viewed as a typewriter with memory, a television set you can talk back to, a telephone to talk to other computers as well as people, and so on.

      This first vision of computers in education, based on Fast Eddy, falls within the metaphor of computer-as-source. Some would argue that we do not need more information - we are already inundated with information. Indeed, many would argue that information overload is the major problem of our post-industrial information-based society. To use the computer like this is like throwing water to a drowning man. We need means of assessing information rather than more information to assimilate. We should be supplying students with better shit detectors - to quote Ernest Hemingway [Plimpton 1963] - rather than providing teachers with bigger shovels.

      If the computer is assimilated to the outside-in tradition, it will simply continue to do, more efficiently, what has been done before. However, some would argue that much of what has been done before, in the name of education, is not worth doing. If it is not worth doing, then it is not worth doing - no matter how efficiently. If you are going down the wrong road, it does not matter how briskly you are travelling along it. There is a need for something completely different. This brings us to my second vision of the use of computers in education.

      1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19