I was sitting at a curriculum meeting in my son’s school. The discussion turned to accommodations on tests that were made for high school students with learning disabilities. We talked about the fact that many schools had removed time limits and allowed students to use computers instead of writing by hand. At one point in the conversation, the school principal interjected that the makers of standardized tests such as the SAT were exploring whether such accommodations should be available to all students. He paused, and then pondered aloud, “How long will it be before our students won’t be able to write at all without using a computer?” My question: Does relying on particular technologies for producing or conveying language carry educational or practical consequences?
This chapter focuses on the typewriter and the stand-alone computer, used as word-processor or for desktop publishing. Chapter 8 looks at teletechnologies—the telegraph, the telephone, and computers as networked machines. But first, some practical issues.
Visitors to the Trinity College Library in Dublin snake their way to a small, dimly lit room that holds one of Ireland’s national treasures: the Book of Kells. Produced in the early ninth century in the monastery of Kells in County Meath, this illuminated manuscript contains the Latin text of the four Gospels of the New Testament. The original book is comprised of 370 leaves of vellum.