We have just argued that one reason WANDAH may be effective is because it employs the methods that good teachers use. And, of course, there is probably a sizable novelty effect. But what about the future? Will the computer bring fundamental changes in the way we write and do research?
We conjecture as follows: We might be seeing in WANDAH the beginnings of a more generally useful problem-solving tool for writing and doing research-- a cognitive amplifier in the sense that the industrial age produced machines that amplified human physical abilities. The next generation, more intelligent SUPER-WANDAH will have a better knowledge of language and will be able to offer more accurate advice on style and grammar. She will have a variety of templates and outlines to prompt the user in organizing ideas. SUPER-WANDAH will also allow the user to interact through an intelligent, expert tutor with various data bases of knowledge. The user could thus take notes, try out different structures, search for relationships, and test hypotheses. The user will further be able to direct SUPER-WANDAH to synopsize or abstract relevant information.
This SUPER-WANDAH of the future would certainly do a better job of allowing us to deal with our cognitive load--the constraints on our organizing ideas and writing. But it just might also be a quantum leap in amplifying our problem-solving skills. This is the true promise of WANDAH. It is a research question for the future whether in such a SUPER-WANDAH the argument given earlier about the confusion of medium of communication and method of instruction is no longer valid. If so, then a SUPER-WANDAH, the medium becomes the method (or vice-versa).
WANDAH was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, by the Word Processing Writing Project under a grant from the Exxon Education Foundation: Morton Friedman and Earl Rand, Principal Investigators; Ruth Von Blum, Project Director; Michael Cohen, Principal Programmer; Lisa Gerrard, Design Consultant; Andrew Magpantay and Susan Cheng, Assistant Programmers.
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