Computers in Education - Interactionist Vision

      This third - and current - vision of computers in education attempts to suggest how computers can best contribute to this optimal orchestration of growing and learning. It is based on a programme called HyperCard (or any of the equivalent programmes for the various computer platforms). No one - including Bill Atkinson, who wrote it, Danny Goodman [Goodman 1993], who wrote a 1144-page handbook for it, and John Sculley, who agreed to include it free with every Apple Macintosh computer he sold - seems to know exactly what HyperCard is. This is a good sign. It means that it may be something genuinely new, since it can not be described as old technology Y with difference Z. Perhaps the computer has finally found its novel niche among the media.

      Having said that HyperCard can not be adequately described even by the people most intimately associated with it, I will not fall into the trap of trying to describe it. However, I will illustrate its use by examples. It's better to show than to tell.

      Imagine a stack of cards representing all the paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a device which selects subsets of those paintings - for example, pointillist paintings, or paintings by 19th-century French artists, or paintings with ships in them, or pointillist paintings by 19th-century French artists with ships in them. There is also a device for sorting those paintings - for example, in the order in which they were completed. On each painting there are buttons which link you immediately to cards containing information about the painting, or about the artist, or which provide blow-ups of various parts of the painting (see Figure 1). Each card may contain further buttons which link you to yet other cards - for example, a button on a technical term within the painting card, which links to a card containing a definition of this term, or a button on an asterisk within the artist card which links to a card containing a footnote to that statement. This footnote card can, of course, link to other footnote cards, which explore the subject in more and more depth.

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