When I think of my relation to advances in technology I often think of an essay by Robert Benchley in which Benchley describes a friend of his caught in a hotel fire, who rushes down the hall to where there is a glass case holding an ax and a sign saying, "Break and use in case of fire." His friend breaks the case, takes out the ax, then thinks about how to use it. He can chop a hole in his hotel room door thus letting the fire have more fuel, or he could break his window thus giving it more oxygen, but when the firemen rescue him, he's standing in the corner of his room making threatening passes at the flames with the ax.
That's the way I see myself with reference to a whole lot of technology. I should say that I have given up a manual typewriter within the last year for an electric one, making a bold leap into the middle of the twentieth century. In preparing for this, I thought I'd better shadow Bill McKeachie awhile. I took his outline, did some reading, and was particularly helped by the college classroom teaching and learning described in a 1986 research review. Something Bill and his associates say there is that our goals for higher education now go beyond transmitting knowledge to helping students develop cognitive structures, skills, strategies, motivation for continued learning, and problem solving. Those are some important ways for me of expressing goals of higher education.
Lacey is Professor of English, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana.