|THE NET GENERATION|
The shift from entertainment to enlightenment in the use of those powerful tools will soon become crucial. Children raised with computers will soon reach our universities. Many years ago, Margaret Mead stated in her autobiography: "My grandmother wanted me to have an education. So she kept me out of school." Marshall McLuhan chimed in on the same theme: "The information level outside school is so much higher than inside school that children interrupt their education by going to school". When children, raised on video- and computer-based media (the third and fourth generations of media), reach university to find a professor stuck in the talk-and-chalk of the first two generations of media, this will become obvious to everyone and not just to such far-sighted individuals. That's when the excrement will impinge upon the ventilation device (or, as we scholars say, the shit will hit the fan). Few of us will remain unsplattered.
The traditional qwerty keyboard of the typewriter and now the computer was designed originally to slow down the operator, by mixing the letters up randomly, because the keys would jam if one typed too fast.1 Keys no longer stick but the keyboard has. We are stuck with it. There are more logical and efficient keyboards available, but the illogical and inefficient qwerty keyboard can not be replaced because so many people have been trained on it.
The educational system could be considered as a victim of this qwerty phenomenon. Our educational system was designed for a time when the classroom was richer in information than the world outside the classroom. Teachers, trained within this system, teach as they were taught and thus perpetuate the traditional system. Now that multimedia promises a vastly richer environment, traditional schooling is no longer appropriate, but we are stuck with it. What passes for educational reform is largely a matter of twiddling with the various parameters within this established system. If we continue in this reactive mode, the university will become increasingly peripheralized and irrelevant. The author argues elsewhere that we have to turn teaching inside-out [GARDINER 99].
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