(From a presentation by Steven Ehrman, American Association for Higher Education, Frontiers in Education Conference, 8 November 1997)
The date is 400 BC, and you are a student of a Greek philosopher, sitting at his feet each day while he leads you through a learning experience. You have just heard that a new innovation is about to change the way your philosopher teaches and how you will learn - he is going to introduce
READING AND WRITING
In your groups, prepare three arguments in support of this technological innovation and three reasons why it will have a negative impact on learning.
Does it make any difference in your arguments if you take the position of the student or the philosopher?
Do the same arguments hold for introducing other technologies into the classroom?
The Stages of Computer Impact
- Carefully examine the three stages of computer insertion that are listed in the notes:
and then examine the three stages of impact in the following
situations that effect your life:
- Task replacement by computer;
- Task efficiency, proficiency, and productivity improvement by
- New task insertion that would have been impossible without
You should clearly identify the status of the application prior to computer
insertion, and then the three stages of insertion with examples. Realize
that it is possible that step 3 is still in the future for some
- The university pre-registration system (you may want to talk to someone who was here when this was not computer driven).
- The use of the WWW in classes.
- The use of the computer in banking (note that the first banking application was ERMA at the Bank of America in 1959).
- The use of the computer in medicine.
- The use of the computer in correspondence (snail-mail to e-mail and beyond).
- (From ImpactCS recommendations)
- Divide students into small groups and assign an important
technology, such as the clock, the internal combustion engine,
electricity, or television to each group and have them discuss how
the invention and widespread adoption of this technology changed
society. Who were the winners and who were the losers when the new
technology was adopted?
- Have individual students read or view a work of science fiction
and then report back to their small groups about the author's view
of technology. Is technology viewed as beneficial or evil? Who is
in control in the work - people or technology?
- Provide students with examples of a computer application (such
as a computer game) and have them to identify the social values
embedded in the software.
- Provide examples of two user interfaces to small groups of
students. Have them devise quantitative measures to evaluate the
usability of the two interfaces. Administer the evaluation to
another group of students to determine which one is best.
- Have students do a social impact statement on an existing
application in a real world setting in which they analyze the
system in use, by gathering both anectodal and quantitative data.
- For a given application, have students design different
interfaces for different social contexts.
- Work through a case study in which the interest of the users
[Image] and the customer are inconsistent, and the developers are caught
in the middle.
- Students are required to devise a quantitative hypothesis about
one aspect of a particular interface in one or more specific
social contexts. They will then be given empirical data on actual
use to confirm or reject the hypothesis.
Scenarios for Debate:
Last updated 2002/01/06
© J.A.N. Lee, 1977-2002.