The Tech & Learning 100@30

Article excerpt

AS PART OF OUR 30TH-ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, Tech & Learning is compiling a List of the people most important to the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education. Our first 30 honorees are plucked from the past: the founding fathers and mothers whose inventions, declarations, and theories set the table for where we are today. Here is our List. Did we miss someone? Respond to our reader poll at


Burrhus Frederic "B.F." Skinner (1904-1990) has been called the most influential psychologist of the 20th century, but the Harvard professor who invented operant conditioning also shaped teaching. Skinner invented the teaching machine, a mechanical device that allowed users to respond to questions and receive rewards for correct responses. In The Technology of Teaching, he outlined five main obstacles to Learning (fear of failure, task too big, Lack of directions, tack of clear directions, and Lack of positive reinforcement) and ways each can be overcome (give immediate feedback, break task into smaller steps, repeat directions as necessary, work from the simple to the complex, and give positive reinforcement).

Craig R. Barrett (born 1939) retired Last year from Inter Corp. as CEO and chairman of the board after a 35-year career, but his passion continues to inspire successive generations of Learners. Barrett has taken on national and international rotes in the advancement of technology and Learning. Until Last year he was chairman of the United Nations' Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development, which works to bring computers and other technology to developing parts of the world. He is also a private-sector advocate of a national science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education initiative.

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a professor of English literature who pioneered the study of media theory. His 1951 book The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man helped establish popular culture as a field of study, white 1962's The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man examined how communication technology (alphabetic writing, the printing press, and modern electronic media) affects cognition and social organization. McLuhan received wide acclaim for his 1964 book Understanding Media, in which he set out his belief that media, and not their content, should be the focus of study. The popular quotation "The medium is the message" is the title of that book's first chapter.


Sugata Mitra is a professor of educational technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in the UK. While at the National Institute of Information Technologies, where he remains chief scientist emeritus, Mitra ran what is known as the Hole in the Wall experiment to gauge unsupervised Learning. A computer was placed in a kiosk in a slum in Kalkajo, Delhi, and children were allowed to use it freely--and did so, proving that children can Learn to use computers without format instruction. Mitra continues to explore what he calls minimally invasive education in his work in education technology for remote and rural areas.

Angus S. King Jr. (born 1944) served two terms as governor of Maine and established the nation's first one-to-one laptop initiative Late in his second term. In 2000, King established the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, whose goat was to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. The effort culminated in the fall of 2002 in each seventh-grade student and teacher's receiving a laptop; eighth graders followed a year Later. King is a distinguished Lecturer at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, and a Segal lecturer in American politics at Bates College in Lewiston.

Linda G. Roberts directed the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational. …


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