The greatest resistance to change will be found in those
institutions whose traditional primary function has
been the perpetuation of a society's folkways, mores,
and values, such as religious and educational
institutions. (Evans and Leppman, 1968, p. 31)
Public discourse on the pedagogical uses of information technology (IT) runs the gamut of views from utopian to apocalyptic. At the one extreme, IT is a magic bullet, an enabler of reforms that will silence higher education's critics by making the academy more accessible, more affordable, and more effective. Many technoutopians point particularly—and enthusiastically—to the major for-profit providers like the University of Phoenix, DeVry, and ITT, as well as to the avant-garde nonprofits such as Western Governors Open University and the Southern Regional Electronic Campus, as the new models for higher education.
At the one extreme, information technology is a magic bullet, an enabler of reforms that will make the academy more acces-sible. At the other is a brave new world of digital education.
At the other extreme, a coterie of skeptics warn of a brave new world of digital education, one in which students, recast as [customers,] are [facilitated] rather than taught by legions of part-time and poorly paid instructors who depart from script at their own professional peril. Absent from this tableau, as Alan Wolfe sardonically notes in his assessment of the University of Phoenix, are [such accouterments of academic life as tenure, libraries, nonprofit status, ivory-tower isolation, academic freedom, lectures, high tuition, the semester system, dormitories, beer bashes, full-time faculty members, in loco parentis, athletics, and the very idea of campus life] (1998, p. B4).
Almost completely lacking in an otherwise lively debate is the kind of historical perspective needed to temper the more excessive claims of either extreme. Calls for reform based upon the potential of alternative media have been heard before (Cuban, 1986; Saettler, 1968, 1990). Support for the integration of visual instructional materials into the curriculum, for instance, date back at least to 1928 with the publication of Anna Dorris's Visual Instruction in the Public School (Saettler, 1968). An audiovisual instruction movement flourished in the late 1940s, promoting a modern technological means of providing students with concrete or nonverbal learning