Head of Information Technology, Bedford School,
Books will be foresaken by all dwellers upon this globe, and printing will absolutely pass out of use…
Always conscious of my audience, I wondered as I wrote this chapter whether anyone would actually read it. I mean read, in the traditional sense of my generation, * as from the printed page rather than the screen. Should I be putting such a topic as this in print, or should I request that it is released on CD-ROM, or made available over the Internet, or whatever is the latest technology of the moment?
The quotation above is not a modern comment on the advent of the CD-ROM or Internet, but a man named Octave Uzanne writing in 1894 in Scribners Magazine. He welcomed the advent of the wax cylinder which could record voices, and even the 'photo-cromo' which would project images on to white screens. There is no doubt that the technologies of that day have made impacts on learning, and few would question the benefits of the video and cassette recorder today. Yet one hundred years on the printed and written word are still the major means of communication and study.
There are, I think, two questions you need to ask yourself about computers and how they might affect your study: first, whether the use of a personal computer could be of benefit to you, and if so the best way of using it; and secondly, how might you use computers in the broader context to assist your study.
Without a doubt, the major use of a personal computer for most people is word-processing. I would assume from the fact that you're reading this book that you are embarked upon some formal course of study, involving the taking of notes, the writing of assignments, essays, practical write-ups, projects and much more. The very act of writing forces you to analyse your thoughts in a way that verbal dialogue does not require; moreover, writing is still the main communication medium between pupil and tutor, and in the final analysis the examiner. A word-
*For most of you, I would guess that that is at least one generation before yours.