Library Juice 2:30 - August 4, 1999

"Distance Education"


1. World Wide Learn - Online Learning & Education
2. library services for distance education
3. Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL)
4. Palinurus: The Academy and the Corporation [frames]
5. UNC Metalab collection on Distanc Ed.
6. Educators for Social Responsibility
7. PLA Tech Notes
8. Steven Dunlap's Distance Ed. site
9. CIT Infobits
10. Educational Technology & Society
11. iMP:  The Magazine on Information Impacts
12. JCMC Special Issue on "CMC & Higher Education"
13. On Selling Educational Software
15. Poem - Public Library, R.I.P.

Quote for the week:

"True teaching and learning are about more than information.
Education is based on mentoring,internalization, identification,
role-modeling, guidance, and group activity. In these processes,
physical proximity plays an important role. Thus, the strength of the
future physical university lies less in pure information and more in
college as a community. Less in wholesale lecture, and more in
individual tutorial. Less in Cyber-U, and more in Goodbye-Chips
College. In research, the physical university's strength lies in
establishing on-campus archipelagos of specialized islands of
excellence that benefit from the complementarity of physical
proximity. This requires the active management of priorities. In the
validation of information, the university will become more important
than ever. As the production of information keeps growing, society
requires credible screeners of information, and has entrusted some of
that function to universities and its resident experts, not to
networks. But to shield the credibility of this function requires
universities to be vigilant against creeping self-commercialization
and self-censorship."

From "Electronics and the Dim Future of the University," by Eli M. Noam.

Homepage of the week:

   Bill Gates:


1. World Wide Learn - Online Learning & Education

A directory of continuing education
courses available online.  Browse
by general subject area.

Submitted by:
The List Owner
ResPool -


2. library services for distance education

From The NODE
Technologies for Learning

In June 1998, the NODE's newsletter networking ran a story on the
difficulties inherent in providing library services to off-campus
students. As a result of the feedback we received, the NODE hosted an
online forum to explore these issues further. As a result of both of
these events, and in response to an immediate and pressing need,
we've decided to collect resources around this issue and offer them
as a tfl topic.

The NODE Learning Technologies Network is a not-for-profit electronic
network facilitating information and resource-sharing, collaboration
and research in the field of learning technologies for postsecondary
education and training.

The functions of the NODE are to gather and disseminate information
in areas of need; to offer professional development activities; to
facilitate collaboration among universities and colleges; and to
commission projects and research in issues and practices in
technologically-mediated teaching and learning.

The NODE's website is a focal point for information and discussion
forums on issues related to teaching, learning and technological

3. Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL)

The primary mission of the CCNMTL is to support Columbia faculty in the use
of digital technologies for teaching and learning. However, the Center also
plans to share the successful technologies and curriculum models it
develops with the wider university community. This new site is the first
step in that direction. College educators and media lab staff will find a
number of items of use, including a Web Publishing Guide and overviews of
ongoing projects at the Center. Probably the most useful section of the
site at present is the EdCITE Reference Database of over 230 research and
case studies on the effective use of technology in education. Searchable by
title, author, keyword, descriptor, and discipline, the database offers
citations to journal articles, Websites, and other relevant information
resources on technology in education. Citations include author, title,
source, resource type, date, education level, discipline, an abstract, and
whenever possible a link to the full text. [MD]

>From the Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-1999.

4. Palinurus: The Academy and the Corporation [frames]

This pilot site, maintained by Professor Alan Liu of the University of
California-Santa Barbara, author of the Voice of the Shuttle site
(described in the Scout Report for May 30, 1997 -- ),
was created by humanities scholars to examine the practical and
intellectual challenges faced by higher education in a post-industrial
world. In today's "information society," "knowledge work" in the business
and academic worlds have begun to merge. As any tenured or aspiring
academic will tell you, pressures on university departments to downsize and
restructure have never been greater, and academia now ignores the lessons
and laws of the business world at its own peril. This site reflects on
these issues through a hypertext linked bibliography of Suggested Readings,
Featured Controversies (Grade Inflation, Faculty Against IT, and others),
and in the future, plans to link resources and courses "relevant to the
role of higher education in contemporary society." The Discussion Topics
and Gallery of Quotes sections offer suggestions on using the bibliography
and a Discussion Board is provided for user responses. [MD]

>From the Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-1999.

5. UNC Metalab collection on Distanc Ed


6. Educators for Social Responsibility

Educators for Social Responsibility have a publishing project on
Instructional Media, geared toward primary rather than secondary


7. PLA Tech Notes

Date: Mon, 2 Aug 1999 20:10:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: "GraceAnne A. DeCandido" <ladyhawk[at]>
To: publib <publib[at]>
Subject: electronic statistics!

Thanks for all of your help: the PLA Tech Note, Electronic
Statistics: Counting Crows was posted today. I am currently
working on Wireless Networks.
Here's the complete list of Tech Notes so far:
Electronic Statistics: Counting Crows
Video Teleconferencing: Here, There, and Everywhere
Intranets: The Web Inside
Metadata: Always More Than You Think
DOI: The Persistence of Memory

Thanks all!

GraceAnne A. DeCandido
Blue Roses Editorial & Web Consulting, New York City
What's Ladyhawk reading now?

To be involved with books is to live at the heart of light.
Mary Cantwell

8. Steven Dunlap's Distance Ed site

>===== Original Message From Steven Dunlap <sad[at]> =====

My web page on distance education has a section on copyright as relates
to libraries:

Steven Dunlap                          Golden Gate University
Librarian, Regional                    University Library
Campus Services                        536 Mission Street
sad[at]                            San Francisco, CA  94105

Regional Campus Nomad's page:

Intellectual Freedom page:

"If you accept his assumptions, even a madman sounds reasonable."
                          ---Russian Proverb

9. CIT Infobits

CIT Infobits (formerly titled IAT Infobits) is an electronic service of
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Academic & Technology
Networks' Center for Instructional Technology. Each month the CIT's
Information Resources Consultant monitors and selects from a number of
information technology and instructional technology sources that come to
her attention and provides brief notes for electronic dissemination to
educators. To subscribe to CIT Infobits, send email to listserv[at]
with the following message: SUBSCRIBE INFOBITS firstname lastname
substituting your own first and last names.

Recent Contents:

CIT Infobits November 1998

     ERIC's New Document Subscription Service
     Technological Visions Conference
     Webcasts from EDUCOM '98 Conference
     Newsletter on Technology and Human Responsibility
     Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
     Tips for Improving Web Site Usability
     Scholarly Communications Resources


Carolyn Kotlas, Editor, carolyn_kotlas[at]

[From NewJour-L]

10. Educational Technology & Society

ISSN 1436-4522

Educational Technology & Society is an electronic periodical of the
International Forum of Educational Technology & Society, seeks academic
articles on the issues affecting the developers of educational systems and
educators who implement and manage such systems. The aim of the periodical
is to help both these communities to foster greater understanding of each
other's role in the overall process of education, problems faced by each
and how they may support each other.

The Educational Technology & Society is a quarterly periodical, but the
articles will be published as soon as they are ready for publication
(benefit of the electronic medium!), so that the issue will be built up
and at any moment, one issue of the periodical would be available to
accept the articles.

The submissions are invited for the following sections:
1.  Peer reviewed publications. All submitted articles for this category
will be refereed by at least two reviewers with expertise in the relevant
subject area.

2. Updates. This section includes book reviews, educational web site
reviews, educational forum reviews, comments, vision statements, wish lists,
description of implementations, software reviews and any other material of
interest to the forum members. The items in this section will not be
reviewed, but the editors reserve the right to reject or (with the approval
of contributors) to edit copy.

Details regarding submission procedure and authors' guidelines are available

e-mail: Dr. Kinshuk, kinshuk[at]
 Mr. Ashok Patel, apatel[at]
 Prof. Dr. Reinhard Oppermann, oppermann[at]

[From NewJour-L]

11. iMP:  The Magazine on Information Impacts

The June issue of iMP: The Magazine on Information Impacts, which is
published on the web by the Center for Information Strategy and Policy
(CISP) of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), has been
posted.  You can find the magazine at: [follow "visit imp"] or

In this issue, we are featuring stories and editorials on the theme of IT
and education, several of which have digital library connections.  Our
contributors include:

Stretching the Zero Sum Paradigm with a National Digital Library for Science
Education, Frank Wattenberg

Education at a Distance: How Demography and Technology Are Creating a
Worldwide Learning Revolution in Higher Education, Claudine SchWeber

E-Learning: A Catalyst for Competition in Higher Education
Walter Baer

Cyberspace, Deviance, and Children, Terry Gudaitis
It Takes an (Extended Internet) Community to Teach a Child, Daniel Bobrow
Schools Don't Want Technology, Schools Want Curriculum, Elliot Soloway and
Cathleen Norris

Broadband Networking and the Future of Graduate Education, Clifford Lynch.

Wattenberg, SchWeber, and Lynch address the contributions of digital
libraries to more equitable resource distribution, and digital library
technologies are implicit in nearly all of the other stories.

Of more general interest are our columns, "What's Happening" and "Calendar",
in which we identify new reports, journals, funding opportunities, upcoming
conferences, and developments on the Hill and in the courts. The scope is
primarily USA but we attempt to cover the major international developments,
as well, and expect to broaden our focus as this new magazine matures.

We have an opt-in policy. If you wish to receive notices of each new
release, please let us know via the subscribe page at the site
[] or by sending us a message
to subscribe[at]  We apologize for any cross-postings or multiple
mailings that you may have received. Joining our subscription list only
provides you with notices of new iMP releases (10 per year).  Information
provided to us will neither be given nor sold for use by any third parties.
We encourage you to review our terms and conditions statement, which
includes our policy on privacy.

We encourage you to forward this notice to others who may be interested in
iMP. Our double summer issue (release date:  July 22, 1999) will be devoted
to Y2K.  In September, we will resume publication with an issue on
infrastructure protection followed by one on IT and the environment.

iMP is an adventure.  We hope that you will read it, share it with your
friends, and tell us what you think.

Amy Friedlander
Editor, iMP Magazine

[From IFLA-L]

12. JCMC Special Issue on "CMC & Higher Education"

Special Issue on "CMC & Higher Education"
Part I.

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 4 Issue 2 December, 1998

In this Issue:

Audiographic Telecourses for the Web: An Experiment

Robert LaRose
Jennifer Gregg
Matt Eastin
Michigan State University

Prior research on instructional media effects suggested that an
audiographic approach to World Wide Web based courses would optimize
educational effectiveness along with cost effectiveness, although with a
possible loss of teacher immediacy that could adversely affect student
attitudes. An introductory telecommunication course was converted to an
audiographic Web telecourse in which students listened to pre-recorded
audio classroom interactions while viewing a detailed course outline and
illustrative sites over the World Wide Web. Forty-nine subjects were
recruited from a live lecture class and randomly assigned to either the
experimental (Web course) group or a control group that took the class in a
traditional lecture section. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that
the experimental group had test scores and student attitude and teacher
immediacy ratings equal to those of the control group after controlling for
student gender, class level, grade point average and attendance. Open-ended
interviews were also conducted to assess qualitative dimensions of student
satisfaction. The results supported the audiographic telecourse model as a
potentially cost-effective approach to distributing courses over the Web.
New directions in research on instructional media effects and teacher
immediacy were formulated from an analysis of the unique characteristics of
the World Wide Web as an instructional medium.

The Crossroads between Lifelong Learning and Information Technology: A
Challenge Facing Leading Universities

Michal Beller
The Open University of Israel

Ehud Or
Consultant & Projects Manager in
Technology Mediated Learning 

Technology-Mediated Learning and Distance Learning (TML/TMDL), and
particularly asynchronous learning through the Internet, are becoming major
vehicles for fulfilling the needs of Lifelong Learning (LLL). A hybrid
model of studies using technological means is leading to the development of
a new pedagogy of learning and teaching. Various new models of higher
education are evolving in North America and around the globe, in response
to LLL needs and to the new opportunities that are becoming available
through the integration of learning technologies. These models are
described and discussed in this paper, for the benefit of those who are
interested in or are partners to higher education, and in particular the
policy makers.  Traditional universities can adopt some of these models,
while other models may call for the creation of new types of institutions
of higher education. Most institutions will find that a joint effort is
necessary for reaching the critical mass required for providing their
educational system and their faculty with a generalizable, scalable and
sustainable TML solution.  Creating such coalitions will turn out to be a
challenge in and of itself.

Online Teaching: Encouraging Collaboration through Anonymity

Andrea Chester
Gillian Gwynne
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

This paper describes our experience as tertiary teachers (and learners) in
cyberspace. A brief evaluation of the literature on computer-mediated
communication (CMC) is presented, together with a review of the major
theoretical positions explaining online interaction. The filtered-cues and
social information processing perspectives are compared in the light of
more recent formulations of the hyperpersonal. With a desire to facilitate
and critically evaluate a hyperpersonal learning context or online learning
community, we developed a range of strategies including the use of aliases.
The subject is described together with our observations of the benefits and
disadvantages of pseudonymity for education.

Staying Connected: A Case Study of Distance Learning for Student Interns

Diane F. Witmer
California State University, Fullerton

This paper reports a pilot distance learning course that was launched in
response to a number of concerns regarding an existing internship program
at a Midwestern university. Not surprisingly, student reactions to the
program were somewhat inconsistent, as their experiences varied widely,
both in terms of the technology and the internship site, and the new course
needed considerable debugging. Comments ranged from very negative to very
positive. However, most of the students (63.5%) highly recommended or
recommended without qualification that communication technologies be used
for summer internships. Another 20.5% of the students recommended the use
of communication technology with suggestions for improvement. A major
improvement in the general quality of student report writing also was
noted. The data indicate that a distance learning approach to internships
has great potential to enhance synthesis and integration of classroom
learning with on-the-job experiences.

Media Temporalities in the Internet: Philosophy of Time and Media with
Derrida and Rorty

Mike Sandbothe
Friedrich Schiller University Jena

The essay comprises four sections. The first section provides a survey of
some significant developments which today determine philosophical
discussion on the subject of 'time'. The second section considers the
question of how time and the issue of media are linked with one another in
the views of two influential contemporary philosophers - Jacques Derrida
and Richard Rorty. Finally, in the third section, the temporal implications
of cultural practices developing in the new medium of the Internet are
analyzed and, in the fourth section, related to the named philosophers'

The Sacred and the Virtual: Religion in Multi-User Virtual Reality

Ralph Schroeder
Chalmers University, Sweden

Noel Heather
Raymond M. Lee
Royal Holloway, University of London

This paper explores the social interaction among participants in a church
service in an online multi-user virtual reality (VR) environment. It
examines some of the main features of prayer meetings in a
religiously-oriented virtual world and also what sets this world apart from
other virtual worlds. Next, it examines some of the issues of research
ethics and methods that are raised in the study of online behavior in
virtual worlds. The paper then analyzes the text exchanges between
participants in a virtual church service and some of the ways in which these
compare with the content of a conventional church service.  Finally, the
paper draws out some implications for our understanding of the relation
between interaction in the virtual and in the "real" world.

Special Issue Editor:
Eli M. Noam, Columbia University

JCMC Editors:
Margaret McLaughlin, University of Southern California
Sheizaf Rafaeli, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


13. On Selling Educational Software

From NETFUTURE #79, edited by Stephen Talbott

Dr. Jane Healy, in her new book, *Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect
Our Children's Minds -- for Better and Worse*, tells of attending a
"technology in education" conference in the midwest.  She stopped at a
prominent display for a multimedia package designed to teach reading and
writing "all in one iridescent package with countless components and a
huge price tag".  The salesman started up the demo, which resembled
nothing more than "a loud, gaudy Saturday morning cartoon".  As she tells
the story:

       "You interested in our great new system here?" he booms heartily.
       "I'm not sure.  Can you give me a couple of reasons why I should
   use this instead of regular materials -- you know, books, pencils,
       His eyes widen, and he stares at me as if I had just landed from
   outer space or, more likely, should be sporting a hoop skirt, bonnet,
   and bustle.
       "Well, I don't really have an answer for that", he fumbles through
   the promotional flyers.  "No one ever asked me that before."
       "How long have you been selling this product?" I inquire.
       "About two years."
       "So how many educators have you shown it to?"
       "Oh, I don't know ... probably several thousand."
       "And I'm the first one who ever asked you why it is better than
   traditional methods?"
       "Yup.  What do you do, anyway?"

(I'll be reviewing Healy's book a way down the line.  I can tell you right
now, though, that it's an excellent antidote to software salesmen, whether
they're on commission from Microsoft or the White House.)



Lowell Monke (lm7846s[at]

                                               Letter from Des Moines
                                               October 27, 1998

             *   *   *   *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


Recently, one of my students designed and managed a Web page for a project
involving the comparison of cultures from various parts of the world.
This student gathered and categorized hundreds of messages so that others
could reference all contributions easily.  For several months he did just
what proponents of "Information Age Education" say we need to teach our
students to do:  he organized, selected, processed and even electronically
published information that was sent to him every day.  He did such a good
job and was so proud of his work that we decided he should enter the Web
page in a contest.

But the entry form completely baffled him.  He spent an hour pondering and
asking me for help with the question, "What is the value of your project?"
With all of his hard work he didn't seem to have any idea how to express
why he had spent so much time developing this extensive body of
information.  Finally, I gave in and told him what I thought the value of
his project was but it did little good.  He soon came back, unable to
remember the exact words I had used.

This nice, hard-working young man, who can gather and process information
off the 'Net so well, has nevertheless been failed by all of us in the
educational system.  His problem had nothing to do with technology or
information and couldn't be fixed by them. His problem was lack of
insight, the inability to discover meaning by finding relations between
experiences and ideas.  In a truly educational environment experiences and
ideas interact to create knowledge and the insights that feed the seed of

This recalls T. S. Eliot's famous lament, "Where is the wisdom lost in
knowledge?  Where is the knowledge lost in information?" (1963, 147).
Still, our infatuation with technology has blinded us to this
discrimination and resulted in data and information being lifted to
exalted status.  The promoters of information have inflated its definition
to absurd dimensions (Machlup 1983).  John Perry Barlow (1996), for
example, claims that "Information is an activity.  Information is a life
form.  Information is a relationship".

As information becomes a "living" entity inhabiting the electronic grid,
once-prized attributes of human life like wisdom and truth -- which
technology cannot traffic -- have become empty terms almost embarrassing
to utter.  "Living in the bureaucracies of information, we don't venture a
claim to that kind of understanding" (Birkerts 1995, 74).  Even in
education we no longer speak in those terms, and end up with students who
have no idea how to find meaning in the information they process.  As
Theodore Roszak has pointed out, "An excess of information may actually
crowd out ideas, leaving the mind (young minds especially) distracted by
sterile, disconnected facts, lost among the shapeless heaps of data"
(1986, 88).  The Internet provides us with nothing so much as an excess of

Trees and Spiders

How does a child understand trees?  At various times I have watched my son
Benjamin climb our trees, sit under their shade, pluck their leaves, break
off branches, listen to cardinals singing in them, peel their bark, watch
them sway in the wind.  Without conscious attention to learning, he has
come to know our trees and, by extension, the idea of trees.  This is a
depth of understanding that comes only from experience that employs all
the senses within the context of a physically rich environment.

The 'Net (or a CD ROM or an encyclopedia for that matter) can only teach
Benjamin *about* trees.  There is a huge qualitative difference here.  The
information obtained is fragmented, desensualized, decontextualized.
Taken alone, its meaning to him will be obscure and lifeless.  It will
never be linked to refuge from a blistering sun, or the strength of an
immovable living object. It will never carry the emotional force of
first-hand experience.

I recently participated in an Iowa Public Television panel discussion
which focused on technology uses in the classroom.  As part of the
introduction a videotape was shown of a second-grade class that used the
computer to produce an electronic book report on *Charlotte's Web*, the
charming children's classic that teaches about living and dying,
friendship and community.  The teacher explained that her students were so
enthusiastic about the computer project that they stopped going outside
for recess, preferring to stay in their seats working on the report.
(This echoes a recent advertisement by IBM (1997) which tries to impress
the reader with the same message.)

The teacher's enthusiasm was contagious, but I found it troubling that the
scene of three students sitting completely still, narrowing their
attention to a colorful but flat 10" by 12" screen, struck my colleagues
on the panel as preferable to exercising (and most certainly educating)
growing legs and arms, not to mention lungs, hearts, vocal chords, and,
yes, fists and tear ducts.

I also found it sad that the teacher chose to encourage her students to
take pride in the jerky animated movements of a coarsely drawn oval with
eight lines sticking out of it rather than help them develop a sense of
wonder through observing real spiders spinning fluidly in a terrarium;
that in studying a story that conveys dignity and meaning to the life
cycle the children spent their time working with machines rather than
visiting elders and infants in the community; that in a story that focuses
on farm life they preferred to stay in their classroom rather than visit
local farms.  (This is Iowa, after all, where farms are not hard to find).

On the one hand, the world can be represented as the same old
decontextualized, abstract information, but with the added intriguing
feature that the child can now manipulate the representations using the
computer.  On the other hand, we can encourage the child to relate
directly to the people and things of the world.  These are fundamentally
different ways to approach learning.  One stresses control and
manipulation of objects, reduced to abstract images -- the world as
information.  The other forges connections between the child and his or
her immediate, personal, concrete world, and invites the child to become
involved with the tangible things and people that exist in it.  Both
approaches promise to spark interest in a child.  But the former does so
through mechanical maneuvering, while the other reaches the mind through
the heart.  The former can be fun, the latter can be deeply fulfilling.
The former is ultimately dehumanizing, the latter helps the child to
discover himself or herself in the world.

This does not mean that information is not important in its own right.
Gradually the time will come when abstract information about trees, elders
and the world in general, will be valuable to learn.  But that value will
be in proportion to the amount of opportunity and time the child has been
given to repeatedly engage the real thing.  Information eventually becomes
important in confirming and analyzing experience and providing a test for
ideas, but to place it at the center of education is to build the search
for meaning around a meaningless core.

Give Kids a World First

The issue here extends beyond just small children or learning about
nature.  In my field of teaching I constantly encounter students who
possess a technological sophistication that astounds adults, but rarely do
they display a strong social, political or even ethical maturity to guide
it.  Name your destination on the information superhighway and they will
take you there; but ask them to tell you what it means when you arrive
and, like the student mentioned earlier, they tend to be at a loss.
Design a web page? No problem. But ask them, as I sometimes do, what
"freedom of speech", "citizenship", "justice", "ethics", or "community"
mean and their responses rarely rise above the level of the undigested
sound bites they have consumed through other electronic media.

My students, having been raised on TV, and later video games and
computers, bring ever fewer first-hand experiences and ideas to my
classroom, and find little to do with computers except what the computer
itself offers.  Joseph Weizenbaum warned twenty years ago that the
computer "enslaves the mind that has no other metaphors and few other
resources to call on" (1976, 277).  Left without those other resources,
many of my students default to the computer and make it their primary
metaphor of thought and life.

Ironically, these students generally have trouble thinking of projects to
undertake even with the vast technical resources they have available in my
lab.  Their minds are full of skills, but empty of impassioned ideas.
They have plenty of ability, but too little real-world experience on which
to draw to inspire and guide its use.

Certainly, not all of my students exhibit these qualities.  But it is a
growing problem.  I find myself wondering how much these students'
extensive computer education has prepared them for contributing to
community life?  How much has it distracted them from preparing to
contribute to it?  Given that prophets of technology like Barlow and
Rheingold (1993) are heralding a new form of community engendered by the
'Net, it seems to me that we have a greater responsibility than ever to
teach children what community can mean before dumping them into this
disembodied form.

How do we do that?  By having them do on-line research on community,
justice, equality, and so on?  By participating in listserve discussions,
where flaming is endemic?  Or by first concentrating on helping them
experience and eventually reflect upon the physical community in which
they reside?  Does this require high technology?  No.  It requires the
physical and active presence of those most important to their lives.

How the Quest for Power Displaces Learning

So why have so many embraced information as the cornucopia of education?
It is my contention that it is, in part, because they have confused and
substituted for the greater purpose of education -- the development of a
responsible, thoughtful individual able to live a fulfilling life -- its
occasional consequence, power.  The real significance of the Internet for
students lies not in its educative capacities but in the power it confers.

Look carefully at the hype swirling around the 'Net as a means of
education and you will find that it is all about power, or what Perelman
(1992) calls "intellectual capital":  power to access information any time
from any place; the power to "go" and communicate with anyone anywhere in
the world; the power not only to access but to publish mountains of
information.  In short, the power to overcome time, distance and the
limitations of our own physical bodies.  Learning in the era of the 'Net
tends to get degraded from comprehending ideas through experience and
thought into enhancing personal power through the possession of

All of the attributes of power cited above may be valuable in the world of
business or politics, but in the realm of education they are deadening.
They focus attention not on developing thoughtfulness and insights but on
improving performance.  In part because of the mindset encouraged by the
computer, the words of Kenneth Keniston are, if anything, even more on
target today than they were when he spoke them over a decade ago:  we
measure the success of schools not by the kinds of human beings they
promote but by whatever increases in reading scores they chalk up.  We
have allowed quantitative standards, so central to the adult economic
system, to become the principle yardstick for our definition of our
children's worth (Keniston, quoted in Elkind 1984, 53).

It is the pursuit of ever higher levels of performance that guides
educational policy today, not a concern for developing strong, deep
comprehension of the world.  Students have to produce measurable skills at
every rung of the educational ladder.  With the emphasis on performance
and the measurability of that performance, there is neither the time nor
the payoff for letting children sink those deeper, less measurable roots
of understanding from which meaningful knowledge can eventually emerge.
Rather, we search for the vendor who can sell us the machinery with the
necessary skill built into it to help the children meet decontextualized
standards of performance.

And already a disturbing trend can be observed:  the more we rely on the
ever increasing capabilities of the machinery, the more time and effort we
invest in learning the technical skills necessary to get performance out
of the machine.  From the moment our children enter the school system we
systematically sacrifice reflection upon ideas and experiences for the
development of skills that will "empower" them.  And more and more this
empowerment is seen as coming through the computer-based accumulation and
manipulation of information.


Birkerts, Sven. *The Gutenberg Elegies -- The Fate of Reading in the
Electronic Age*.  Faber and Faber, Boston 1994.

Barlow, John.  *The Economy of Ideas*, part 2. 1996.

Eliot, T.S.  "Choruses from The Rock".  *Collected Poems 1909-1962*.  New
York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1963.

Elkind, David.  *The Hurried Child -- Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon*.
Addison Wesley, Reading, MA 1981.

IBM.  "IBM's Reinventing Education Partnerships," advertisement in *The
New Yorker*, p. 125, October 20 & 27, 1997.

Machlup, Fritz. "Semantic Quirks in Studies of Information" in *The Study
of Information*, eds. Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfield.  Wiley, NY 1983.

Perelman, Lewis.  *School's Out*. Avon Books, NY 1992.

Rheingold, Howard.  *The Virtual Community*.  Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA

Roszak, Theodore.  *The Making of a Counter Culture -- Reflections on the
Technocratic Society and Its Youthful Opposition*. Doubleday & Co., Garden
City, NY 1969.

Weizenbaum, Joseph.  *Computer Power and Human Reason -- From Judgment to
Calculation*.  W. H. Freeman and Company, New York 1976.

[ Also from NETFUTURE #79 - ]

15. Poem - Public Library, R.I.P.

This poem appeared in The Anderson Valley Advertiser,
Vol 47 No. 26, June 30 1999

Public Library, R.I.P.

Thieves are in the treasure house
Ravaging, plundering, laying waste
To everything beyond their taste
And in the throes of mad carouse

This ugly new breed of alleged librarians
Stupid, incompetent, computer-obsessed
Techno-yuppies, by ignorance possessed,
Prove themselves the new barbarians.

Where's "The Fox Woman" by Merritt and Pok?
Discarded and dumped and sold
For a pittance, because, they told
Us, why should we stock

A book not lately checked out?
And so among the shelves they blunder,
"Weeding," they call it, "discarding."  No wonder
The Battle for Culture ends in a rout.

When boors like these are in power!
By the time they are done
No books will be left.  Not one.
Above the ruins, computers will tower,

Buzzing in triumph, until they too,
Perhaps in 2 years, themselves are outdated,
To be replaced by others, created
To offer still less, nothing old, nothing new.

-Clark Dissmeyer


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