Teaching and Technology: The Impact of Unlimited Information Access on Classroom Teaching: Proceedings of a National Forum at Earlham College

By Evan Ira Farber; Forum on Teaching and Technology | Go to book overview

And even if faculty are willing, the resources at most institutions are scarce; it can be extremely expensive to develop some of the projects I have described. A third problem is particularly worrisome: technology can exacerbate inequities in education both within and across institutions. A fourth problem is often hidden in the excitement that comes with new ideas for improving learning: these experiments are hard to evaluate. We really don't know how to determine whether these new kinds of learning are better, or even exactly how they are different, than traditional methods of instruction.

But these concerns must remain topics for future conversations among us. Despite them, I remain optimistic about the possibility that information technology will not drown students in data, but will instead provide the very learning opportunities that our students most need. Let me close by quoting a student at Drexel University. He was a freshman engineer who took a technical writing course in which his professor, Valarie Arms, introduced him to word processing. When asked to evaluate the course he said, with amazement and with pleasure, "The computer is like a window on my own ideas."

That statement is a valuable and important one with which to conclude our conference. It serves to remind us that information technology, in the last analysis, should come into the classroom to provide students with unlimited access not simply to more and more data -- but to the wealth of ideas in their own minds.


NOTE
1.
The material in this talk owes much to the work of the FIPSE Technology Study Group ( 1984-88) and their report, Ivory Towers, Silicon Basements: Learner-centered Computing in Postsecondary Education ( McKinney, TX: Academic Computing Publications, Inc., 1988).

-107-

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