Visions of Sugarplums: The Future of Technology, Education, and the Schools

Stephen T. Kerr

University of Washington

(Chapter in S. T. Kerr (Ed.) (1996). Technology and the Future of Schooling.   95th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part II. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press].)

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.

- B. F. Skinner (1969)

We are fascinated with technology. We expect it to make a difference in our lives, and particularly in education. We see its effects as beneficent. We look for it to change, and improve, what has come before. We await technological improvements in our lives, from better toaster ovens to improved (more effective, more efficient) schools and learning to rejuvenation of our bodies and protection from our enemies.

These images of what technology can do for us are peculiarly American, although not uniquely so. Americans, for a number of reasons, seem particularly susceptible to a set of related propositions: that technology is good, that it is value-free, that it should find application in many fields, disciplines, and aspects of our lives. Perhaps most troubling is the assumption that, if technology makes it possible to do something, then that thing should be done.

In our culture, the way in which technology is presented and framed in public forums mirrors these assumptions. The possibility of developing and using a "national information super-highway," of using "smart weapons" in the recent war in Iraq (and the probability of their increased use in the future), or of employing a variety of reproductive technologies to enable previously infertile couples to conceive children have been presented as basically value-free, scientifically neutral, and desirable options. The issues that are presented to us as problematic with regard to these changes (censorship and copyright questions with regard to the Information Superhighway, concerns about commanders' possible desensitization in the case of smart weapons, worries over whether aged mothers can adequately care for their offspring in the final case) have typically come up for wider public discussion after the preliminary decision to deploy a particular technology had already been made.

So in education, the possibility (and desirability) of creating and using technologically based systems for teaching, learning, and provision of educational services are typically seen as basically transparent questions. Should we purchase and install large numbers of computers in the nation's classrooms? Should children use on those computers widely available commercial software packages (word processors, spreadsheets, databases, etc.)? Should we encourage design, creation, and installation of a variety of new, multi-media instructional programs? Should we connect increasing numbers of schools, teachers, and students to the Internet? In almost every case, we answer "yes" before we can fully comprehend the costs or time involved, much less the more fundamental issues of learning, development, or social organization where the impact of these decisions may be felt.

A large part of the problem with technology in education seems to be our stance toward it, our impressions of what it is, what it is good for, and how we should think about it. Many of the failures of the past stem from this same problem: the films we expected to revolutionize teaching in the 1920s, the radio broadcasts that would bring the world into every school room in the 1930s, the "new media" of the 1950s and 1960s (television, Super-8 film loops, language laboratories), the passion for programmed instruction of the 1960s, the novelties of distance education and dial-access audio and video in the 1970s - - in all these cases, we started with enormous expectations about what a particular set of technological devices, used in a particular way, might be able to accomplish. While there were a few successes (the overhead projector that rapidly spread into most of the classrooms in America, the somewhat slower but still wide-ranging dissemination of VCRs, the power of distance education and "open university" approaches to extend higher education to new audiences), there were certainly more failures and criticisms - - the machines that were used once and consigned to the closet, the devices that teachers used once a year because they were too complex, the stigma that attached to teachers who used "too many films."

The problem of using new technologies was not made easier by the audio-visual (later instructional technology) establishment. After years of research studies that tried to demonstrate an advantage for using one or another set of devices over "traditional instruction," and failed, practitioners were left with little guidance for selecting one approach over another. The field's response was to devise a new, overarching approach through systems theory, one that promised to focus attention not on devices but on design variables, development processes, and learning outcomes. While this new approach found many followers in business, military, and industrial training, it distanced technologists further from the public schools and from teachers, many of whom found the new "systems" emphasis confusing at best, and threatening at worst.

The wave of interest in microcomputers and related devices that came in the early 1980s marked a shift away from the traditional concerns of technologists, and ushered in a period in which the interests of administrators, parents, community members, and teachers came to the fore. Whereas earlier technologies had either supported the educational status quo (films, television, overhead projectors) or challenged it in ways that were potentially too explosive for schools to handle (programmed instruction), computer technology seemed to be about more than simply teaching and learning. It was immediately associated with economics (employment prospects for graduates, based on the "skills needed for the information age"), with community pride ("Our school has six networked Mac labs!"), with concerns about gender, race, and class (Do minority students have as much access to software that encourages meaningful thought and action, as opposed to simply drill-and-practice, as their majority peers?), and with images of new kinds of classrooms and new types of schools (technology-in-the-service-of-reform, the movement to new kinds of student-teacher roles in classrooms organized in new ways). The small group of advocates for teaching about the computer as an object in itself (the teachers of programming and "computer studies") were quickly outnumbered by proponents of teaching programming for the sake of critical/logical thinking/problem solving, and an even larger number who saw in the computer perhaps a tool to improve performance in basic subjects, or perhaps merely as a slightly more worthy competitor to video games and Saturday morning cartoons. Among administrators and community members with an interest in education, the fascination with computers has often been expressed in terms of rationalization and improvements in efficiency - - "If a computer can allow a secretary to type a letter 25% faster, it ought to allow a teacher to improve what happens in the classroom by the same margin."

In virtually all these cases, however, the discussion has gone forward without an examination of one central underlying assumption: that we should think of education, and schools, as sites for application of computers, software, networks, and associated technologies. Technology itself, rather than the particular goals and ends toward which we wish to use it, often seems to have the priority. (I recall several years ago being asked to sit with a group of teachers from a local school who were interested, they said, in "doing some things with technology." At my first meeting with them, they showed me a document, several pages long, on which they had listed an impressive array of the latest computers, printers, modems, videodisc equipment, software, and so forth. There was no suggestion as to what these might be used for. I asked. They replied , "We thought we'd figure that out later, once we actually get the computers.") We readily ask of technology "Can it do X?," but rarely seem to bring ourselves to ask "Do we really want it to do X? Why do we want it to do X?" The issues of what technology is "good for" are often either ignored, or postponed until their consideration has become a moot point.

I want to suggest here that this approach to technology is fundamentally flawed, and that we ignore these concerns at our future peril. An approach to technology in education that puts hardware (or even software) in first place will ultimately lead to impoverished (in the moral, not the financial sense) schools where students learn things that are unimportant - - but possible - - to learn. Too, I want to suggest that wider use of computers (and associated new devices and technologies) in schools may have unanticipated results. This is because the ways in which we typically use them may define and limit, as well as extend, student (and teacher) perceptions. And I want to challenge the increasingly popular view that technology provides such power that we can use it to effectively eliminate schools altogether; this is an idea so basically flawed, and so basically alien to our most central notions of what a good society is, how we should treat other persons in a democratic and civil society, and how we should educate citizens to live and work there, that we should do everything we can to defeat it.

Lest this prescription sound excessively Luddite, allow me to clarify several points: First, I am not against technology, I do not fear it, nor do I deny that we should introduce it into schools and use it there appropriately. Second, I see strong and important roles that technology can play; I view its effects as potentially significant and beneficial for individual teachers and students and for the education system more generally. Third, I would maintain that the ways we think about technology - - the attitudes we hold, the assumptions we make about what it is "good for" - - are in fact as real and important as the CD-ROM drives and monitors of the computers themselves. Finally, I would suggest that technology, as it grows and develops, will come to influence our lives in ways that we have great difficulty perceiving at the moment. This includes what happens in schools, among young people and adults, what emerges from those interactions, and how we value it. The papers gathered together in this volume reflect some of these perspectives, in varied ways.

Our History: Technology and Human Culture

The questions of what technology is "good for," and the place that it has in our consciousness as we think about our lives, have been addressed before, but perhaps not with quite the breadth or depth that we might expect. The scholars for whom these issues were central include Lewis Mumford, whose Technics and Civilization offered an analysis of the ways in which technology (at that time - - the 1930s - - primarily mechanical) had influenced human thought and action[1]. Mumford saw a pronounced effect from technology's focus on practicality, "matter-of-factness" as he put it, and consequent decline in "irrational and emotive" aspects of human behavior. His general attitude toward the increasing involvement of technology in human existence was sanguine. But Mumford also saw human existence as requiring something more than simply the coolly rational approach that technology encouraged; he saw technology's effects on human thought as offering a kind of basic minimum, a precondition for allowing humans to move on to more important, more "richly organic" human values.

Another perspective on technology is offered by the French sociologist and cultural historian Jacques Ellul [2]. Ellul saw technology somewhat less positively than Mumford, and was concerned by what he saw as the increased focus on efficiency as a goal in and of itself. For Ellul, the increasing reliance by society on engineers and "psychotechnicians," even in areas (such as education) formerly seen as the realm of other kinds of thought and sensibility, was problematic, an attempt to recapture through technology that which technology itself had taken away.

Specific aspects of technology's impact on society have intrigued some scholars. Of these, H. Marshall McLuhan may be best known to educators for his ideas about communication technology and its effects. McLuhan wrote in an aphoristic style that sometimes seemed deliberately designed to conceal rather than illuminate, and some of his ideas - - "hot" and "cool" media, "the global village," "the medium is the message" - - themselves became slogans. Arguments continue about the significance of McLuhan's work, but in one particular area, the impact of printing technology on culture, his work was seminal for a series of other scholars [3]. Eisenstein examined the ways in which printing altered the relationships among the state, the individual, the church, and the academy in early modern Europe, and concluded that the spread of knowledge encouraged by printing radically democratized social life [4]. Luke considered the ways in which these factors affected the definition and construction of childhood [5].

Others who have written on the technology-society question have addressed the ways in which engineering and its products are perceived and used in society. Florman's analysis is basically exculpatory and suggests that critics often excoriate technology unfairly for exacerbating problems that are more properly described as social [6]. Winner, on the other hand, sees fundamental problems in the ways that technological artifacts are initially defined, especially in the typical lack of public participation in that process, which he sees as leading to fundamental problems after the technology is eventually deployed [7]. Petroski takes a somewhat different view, emphasizing the role of trial-and-error procedure and thus failure (sometimes admittedly catastrophic) in engineering design [8].]

Technology and Education

In the field of education, recent approaches to technology have stressed project descriptions, experimental evaluations of the success of a particular instructional product, or, more complexly, examinations of the ways in which technology can support cognition in various domains. Occasionally, there have been critics: Nunan, for example, saw instructional design as an attempt by educational technologists to preempt the teacher's role, a position echoed by Kerr [9]. A critique of the underlying assumptions present in notions of instructional design was provided by Streibel [10]. Richard Hooper, a former BBC executive, has written cogently about the problems educational technology has had in establishing itself as a field and the troubles it has had in defining which issues really warrant careful consideration [11]. Travers discussed the generally ineffectual approaches used by the field in coping with the changing political landscape in education [12].

Some critics of the field have suggested that the problem of failed technological applications in education lies not with technologies or those who implement them, but rather with the entire system of schooling. Heinich criticized those working in educational technology for being too closely allied with the schools, and too little aware of the ways in which technology could be creatively applied in solving educational problems [13]. Perelman's arguments focus more on the ways in which current computer technology can do away radically with the need for schools as we have traditionally understood them, arguments that also undergirded the now-uncertain attempts by financier and telecommunications entrepreneur Chris Whittle to create a new approach to schooling through the Edison Project [14].

In almost all cases, the arguments for why we should want to introduce technology into the schools (or into education more generally, if the schools themselves are seen as irrelevant) are phrased in strictly utilitarian terms - - we should "want to prepare workers for the competitive global economy" has been a popular formulation in recent years, although earlier it might have been "to prepare ourselves to fight the Cold War." Educational technology is almost universally discussed in terms of method, which is seen as having direct effects, ones that are important to national purposes or the formation of citizens able to contribute in specified ways to the society and the economy.

The alternative would be to try to identify essential human concerns, make these the focus of the educational system, and make decisions within the framework of these concerns. In this kind of educational system, the primary focus of schools, and therefore of instruction, would be on human values, not economic utility. While some would fear that this sort of approach would too closely approach the definition of a kind of "state morality" (or even worse, a "state religion"), in fact many school systems around the world operate with this sort of moral compass at the center of their image of the school. What sorts of concerns might qualify? I will suggest only four here, although there could easily be others: first, a focus on the acquisition of knowledge as a tool for self-discovery and liberation (rather than in the service of purposes defined by the state or other actors with an interest in the "products" of the schools); second, self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth; third, mutual respect for others with differing values and characteristics; and fourth, what we might call a "democratic worldview," a willingness to participate in the affairs of a democratic society.

While it has been rare for those concerned with the role of technology in our society to focus on such issues, some scholars have indeed seen them as important. The well-known theologian and philosopher, Martin Heidegger, for example, saw technology as a threat to fundamental human ways of relating to one another [15]. Neil Postman, a persistent critic of our society's unbridled fascination with technology, finds the subjugation of all social purposes and processes to technological determinism a sad and dangerous state [16]. Shoshana Zuboff explored the ways in which introduction of computer-based systems of management and control affected the careers of both professionals and blue-collar workers in various occupations. She found that the ways that management typically used such systems led workers to feel that they were operating in a "panopticon of power," an environment in which all of their actions and decisions were much more open to scrutiny and analysis from outside than had ever been the case before [17]. But Ithiel de Sola Pool, a scholar who studied communication technology all his life, while critical, was also hopeful about technology's potential to effect social action beneficently [18].

In the world of education and schools, there have been relatively few who have analyzed the ways in which the pervasive movement of computers into classrooms has been carried out. Noble examined the heritage of the educational technology community, and especially its links with both the corporate and military sectors of American life. He found the connections omnipresent, and saw them largely determining the nature of use of educational technology in the schools [19]. This view was reiterated, though in a non-judgmental way, by ]Power on!, the US federal government's own review of the effort to introduce computers into schools in the 1980s [20]. Sloan and Bowers offered generally critical assessments of the practices of computer-assisted instruction [21]. While there have been occasional other discussions about the nature of the field and the ethical and moral quandaries inherent in applying technology in education, these have not had a central place in national discussions [22].

To help advance discussion of these issues, it may be useful first to develop here a typology of the current situation - - how technology is typically deployed for use in schools, by teachers, students, and administrators; how it is paid for, and, most important, what it is perceived by those involved to be "good for.". We will therefore have to survey briefly:

- the ways in which technology is typically used in schools (e.g., types of software employed);

- the effects those uses have on students' thinking (e.g., effects on learning and belief);

- our teachers' ways of interacting with students, other teachers, the ways they have of learning about new practices (such as the use of technology), and their images of their professional work (what it means to be a teacher);

- the organization and structure of education (including how administrative and management decisions are made when technology is employed, technology as a vehicle for public engagement in education, and so on).


What Technology in Education Has Been Good For

Perhaps the primary thing we need to bear in mind about the interaction of technology and schooling is that the process has never resulted in the panacea that educators often hoped and assumed would follow. The reasons are varied, and some of them we touched on briefly above. A key determinant is the powerful set of social, political, and economic expectations borne by schools as a part (arguably the most important one) of the larger social institution we call education. As Cuban and Cohen have argued forcefully, technology doesn't succeed in classrooms the way we dream it might because of other expectations we have of schools. We have pervasive, powerful, and usually tacit images of how schools should work. We seem to think, for example, that having an adult teacher present to work with children is important, regardless of how sophisticated are the technological systems and devices we may create to circumvent this situation [23]. Such images are slow to change because they are powerful: they are widely circulated and broadly accepted in society. They are also shared by people from many different groups: educators, parents, politicians, business leaders, intellectuals. Because these images are so widely and deeply held, they are not easily changed, making it difficult to bring about change in schools.

A further aspect of the images we have of how a school ought to be organized is a strong component of control - - a principal who is perceived to be "in charge" or an "instructional leader," a superintendent who is a "take-command individual" - - a feature that we are loath to give up, and may even want to strengthen (for example, through the current push toward greater teacher accountability, "high stakes" evaluation approaches, "outcome-based education," and via state and national educational standards). These trends may conflict directly (though again, the conflicts are rarely discussed in the open) with technology as a mechanism for "flattening the pyramid," reducing the number of administrative layers in a school system, and generally fostering greater responsibility and "empowerment" for teachers at a local level. These new expectations also make it difficult to pursue some of the things that technology might make available - - greater individualization, more possibilities for students to explore their own agendas, teachers constructing new curricula that go outside the bounds of the usual.

Thus, schools as a part of the larger social institution of education have a kind of life of their own, an existence that we encourage and support through a myriad of public actions and private decisions even as we consider rather different images, based on technology, for what a school might be. It is important to keep this in mind as we examine both traditional images of how to use technology in schools, as well as some new images based on a rethinking of what technology in education might be "good for."

]Technology as we know it. A number of surveys have defined typical uses for computer technology in schools: The machines were first organized in self-standing labs, but more recently have started to be dispersed to individual classrooms; various commercially available software application packages are used (word processors, spreadsheets, data bases, communications programs), as well as some purely instructional programs (science or social studies simulations, drill-and-practice exercises, and, occasionally, a few higher-powered interactive math or science programs). Only in a small number of cases do students today learn about computers primarily in order to learn how to program them, an approach that originally seemed very promising to many in the field. And in even fewer cases do they work with instructional software that was created by their own teacher(s).

Technology other than computers is used in its own distinctive ways. Television, for example, has moved into virtually all the classrooms in the country, either through such programs as Whittle's "Channel One," or through the use in schools of relatively inexpensive video cassette recorders. As was the case with other technological changes such as phonograph records and audio tapes, new technology made its way into classrooms most easily when it had first penetrated the home market and had thus become a part of most people's everyday existence. Surveys of video usage in the schools suggest that teachers typically use programming that is provided to their districts at no or reduced cost through local PBS stations; they use video programs freely and in relatively large numbers, but access to a wider variety of materials is neither easy nor terribly attractive for these teachers.

What is perhaps most significant about the ways technology has come to be used in schools is that it is almost universally thought of as an addition to, an extension of regular instruction, rather than as a replacement for it. In spite of years of prediction that teachers, texts, schools would be put out of business by new technologies of teaching and learning, in fact schools as institutions seem to have grown ever more securely rooted over the years. Technology still plays a supplementary role in images of how schooling ought to be organized carried around in the heads of most educators, most parents.

Students and technology. Early arguments about the use of computers in education were framed, as had been virtually all preceding discussions about the use of educational technology, in terms of whether the new approach would "be better than 'traditional' instruction," or whether students would "learn different kinds of things." There were a good many very positive initial findings in the 1980s suggesting that using computers really did make a difference; students were found to improve test scores by large amounts (half a standard deviation or more) when they had the chance to work on a computer as opposed to listen to a traditional lecture presentation. But later meta-analyses of these studies largely debunked the supposed advantage as an artifact of inappropriate assumptions and sloppy research; instead, the observed improvement was credited to the intense design work that underlies preparation of CAI programs.

More recent studies of the effects of CAI on learning have shown that students can indeed benefit particularly from certain features of computer-based systems. These benefits come from the efficiency in presentation that comes from using a system that can rapidly and dynamically adapt to the specifics of a given user's pattern of responses, and that can present material that allows direct interaction and manipulation of a specific set of instructional variables. Software such as the Geometric Supposer in mathematics, a variety of similar software in the natural sciences, and powerful simulations in social studies can encourage students to think about problems in ways which, while they could likely be duplicated without a computer, would also be very difficult (time-consuming, expensive, dangerous) to arrange and present.

It has been more difficult to study the long-term effects of computer use on how students think, and on their deeper ways of perceiving the social and physical world. There were a number of early claims that using a computer regularly, especially for writing computer programs, would benefit students by improving logical thought or enhancing their abilities to solve problems. These have largely turned out to be unfounded [24]. The process of transfer from the very specific domain of programming to other arenas of problem solving turns out to be much more difficult than originally assumed. And there is even less information about the long-term impact of regular computer use on deeper images of oneself, one's interactions with others, one's purposes in life, the ways the world works.

There has been much enthusiasm about applying the Internet and other systems of digital telecommunication to the work of students and schools. Special attention has been given to possibilities for collaborative regional or international projects, and some such have been quite successful, but overall results to date have been mixed. The principal problem seems to be how to decide upon particular, educationally relevant work to pursue, once the initial excitement of contact has worn off. Those projects that have defined such work (e.g., scientific analysis of air pollution data, comparative economic analysis of the cost of living, etc.) have generally been successful, while those that have not done so have often failed [25]. This is another area in which figuring out "what the technology is good for" is an important (if often untaken) step.

]Teachers and technology. How teachers use technology (or don't) is a topic of enduring fascination to those who work within the field of educational technology. Until relatively recently, this issue was only peripherally interesting to other educators and administrators. Now, however, the resources committed to technology in the schools have increased exponentially, and so interest in how teachers perceive and use it has also increased.

Why people do or do not use certain practices in their work has been a concern to a broader community than just educators. Field extension agents and agricultural development workers in third world countries had a direct interest in encouraging those with whom they worked to adopt new practices. Another large literature on innovation practices and organizational change came from the business community. Many older models of educational change used these perspectives, and consequently suggested that individuals faced with a decision as to whether to change an established practice could basically be viewed as lying along a normal distribution, ranging from "early adapters," through the "majority" (early and late), down to "laggards" and "resisters" [26]. The assumption here was that the decision to use a new practice is basically one-dimensional, and that knowledge about the benefits that would accrue from use would outweigh other barriers hindering adoption, propositions that came under critical analysis as the greater complexities of schools and teaching practices became evident.

More sophisticated treatments of the process of innovation appeared in the 1980s, at the same time that interest grew in looking at schools as "cultures" in and of themselves. Investigators who examined the uncertainties, problems, and fears of teachers vis á vis a particular changes suggested using a "concerns-based adoption model" (CBAM), and urged that innovations be thought of not as a dichotomous choice for the potential user ("to adopt or not to adopt"), but rather as possibilities that would allow for a number of levels of use [27].

Studies of teachers' interest in using computers quickly indicated why the earlier, simplistic models were insufficient. Whereas some earlier technological changes could be mastered by a teacher in a few hours (an overhead projector, for example, or even a 16 mm film projector) and their classroom implications relatively easily perceived and reconciled with existing practice, computers were something different. The complexity of the software involved, its "invisibility" to the naked eye, the variety of different approaches one could take when using the hardware, and the potential implications for organization of classroom practice - - all these were both complex and troubling for many teachers. Faced with textual and multi-media materials that might include the equivalent of several encyclopedias in a single package, many teachers were concerned about merely identifying what was there, let along mastering the content in the ways that they might do with a traditional text.

Confronting a machine that some suggested could radically restructure classroom organization was also a challenge for many teachers. If one was in fact to move from working as a direct instructor to being more of a mentor and guide, then how was one to learn how to do that, and how was one to assure that one's students were in fact progressing as they should and not using their own (many times superior) ability with technology to create merely a Potemkin village of progress?

The difficulties inherent in starting to use computers in classrooms were assuredly real, and teachers found few easy ways to cope. The in-service training opportunities that districts offered were in many cases inadequate, with brief workshops and one-day seminars providing only scant information on topics that many teachers found puzzling and complex. Several studies of how teachers worked in these new environments suggested that rather than thinking in terms of hours or even weeks of teacher in-service preparation to use new technologies appropriately, the time scale ought better be thought of in terms of years [28].

A major issue in teachers' coming to use technology in their work has had to do with how that work is defined both by teachers themselves and by those who influence their work (professors in colleges of education, local and state educational administrators, union officials, and other influential teachers from the same or neighboring districts). The problem of how to prepare teachers is thrown into especially sharp focus here, since colleges of education generally have not themselves rushed to embrace new technology. The few programs that have been carried out around the nation to enhance teacher education with technology have not revealed any special secrets in this regard.

Ultimately, the principal issue in working with teachers must be how they themselves define their work. That image may be slowly changing under the impact of technology, but it responds to other influences as well, and it is too early to tell what ultimately might result. Perhaps the central problem here is not so much in technology as it is in the social form of the school - - whether the school will continue to be an empire of solo practitioners, with teachers who retreat to largely isolated and self-contained classrooms to "do their own thing," with students who are relatively passive, sit in rows, and listen to the teacher talk, and with bureaucratically oriented principals and superintendents, or whether collaborative practice among teachers, more flexible patterns of school organization, and students able to work with each other and independently of the teacher will come to be more the norm. If such changes as these are to come about, there will need to be more support (and enthusiasm) for them from all sides than has been the case to date.

]Technology and the management of schools as organizations. Technology in its current form may have an impact not only on teaching practice but also on the administration and organization of schools as workplaces. Some of these changes affect the ways teachers might work with their colleagues (other teachers), as mentioned above. But some will lie in more traditionally administrative realms - - how to manage schools and districts, how to plan school finance, and how to kindle and track public involvement in making decisions about new programs, new buildings, new purposes in education.

While many districts have rushed to install computer systems for collecting and processing information about students, teachers, and finances, relatively few studies exist of the ways in which these new systems have affected the organizational structure of districts. Perhaps the advent of electronic mail and the changes in communication patterns that accompany it, for example, will eventually have more impact than the computers themselves though this is not clear from current experience. Where people - - teachers, for example - - historically have had no involvement in making decisions about the school budget, simple access to an e-mail system and the opportunity to comment on a draft plan for expenditures will not automatically transform them into experienced budget analysts [29]. If technology is to "flatten the pyramid" of hierarchical bureaucracy found in most school districts, there must be intentional efforts to bring that about. These might include new patterns of information flow, new ways in which information is used within the organization, and training for educators in how to create, analyze and use that information in making collaborative decisions. Similarly, the opportunity for teachers to work together in technology-intensive classrooms will probably not automatically result in radically new patterns of instruction unless specific guidance is provided on how to accomplish those changes.

The involvement of the public in decisions regarding education is another area in which technology holds much as-yet-unrealized promise. It would seem that the possibility of circulating large amounts of information rapidly to a circle of interested parties would be a useful way to gather reactions to proposed policy initiatives, or to collect public opinions about controversial curricular or program matters. Virtually no research has been done on these issues, perhaps because there are still few enough public school districts with the needed wherewithal to mount such an initiative, and perhaps also because the issue of selective access is still problematic (could a district claim that it had reasonably "sampled public opinion" if it restricted that process to electronic means of dissemination and collection, and thus perhaps excluded segments of the population that did not have access?)

Too, the issue of "electronic referenda," while superficially attractive, also raises some cautionary flags. Should "hot" public issues (e.g., adoption of a sex-education curriculum, a proposed teacher pay increase, or funding for a new building) be settled via a quick public vote? Is there something in the way of deliberation that might be lost in such a process? (These same issues were raised a few years ago during the 1992 presidential campaign by independent candidate Ross Perot, who proposed "electronic plebiscites" on important public questions.) Many who have explored the significance of our current procedures for making public decisions emphasize that representative democracy was intended to provide a cushion against the demands of particular groups for swift action to resolve what are perceived as the pressing problems of the moment.

Ultimately, though, three is some evidence that technology's most pronounced effects on education may be on organizational structures. There is widespread public sentiment that the present pattern of hierarchical bureaucracy that characterizes education in many Western countries is counterproductive and outmoded. For technology to break those patterns, support will be needed not only from educators but also from the public, legislative bodies, and the business community [30].]

Constraints on What Technology in Education Might Be Good For

If we want to describe a more fully human vision for what technology might contribute to education, we need to consider not only what has been done to date, but also what the constraints are - - what technology, by its very form and function, encourages us to do, and what by those same features it keeps us from doing [31]. ]This is an interesting and complex issue, and a complete examination would require more space than we have here. A suggestion of how this kind of analysis might be managed is provided here through a look at the typical range of application-oriented computer software commonly used in schools and the sorts of activity their structure encourages (affordances) and inhibits (constraints).

Spreadsheets. Using spreadsheets (or their derivatives, "grade-book" programs) to calculate the grades students are to receive in a course was an early success in the campaign to have teachers use computers in classrooms. This has been especially so for those teachers who think of the process of determining grades in ways that would be approved by authors of textbooks on measurement and evaluation - - gather a number of component elements, weight each one appropriately, and combine them to yield a final grade. To calculate grades in this way by hand or calculator is a process that is both time-consuming and error-prone; with a spreadsheet, the task is quick and relatively effortless, once an initial template has been designed.

The problem, if there is one, lies in the assumptions that underlie this way of thinking about grades. Are students' activities in fact so easily decomposed into a set of sub-parts? More importantly, should we think of them in this way? Might it be the case that human thought and action are better thought of as wholes, not so easily broken into pieces, and requiring a different kind of analysis, a different method of evaluation, than the spreadsheet model supposes?

The debate is less an empirical one than philosophical, for our purposes in evaluating students are linked intimately with our sense of what schools are for, what purposes evaluation serves in the wider social context, and how we want students themselves to think about the work that they have done in school once they leave. The debate is especially intense at the moment, when some scholars writing on evaluation suggest that the existing (spreadsheet) model is really a hold-over from an earlier approach to schooling that itself presupposed a kind of Taylorist, early-twentieth century image of the school as factory, and teachers as producers of knowledge in the same sense that a factory worker might produce railway cars or motors. If one rivet or connecting rod was incorrectly placed, that should be determined, and should affect the evaluation of the overall quality of the finished product. But models of schooling that presuppose a different kind of end-product - - an educated person, rather than a cog in a machine - - may require different forms of evaluation, and our current spreadsheet models are not easily matched to such an image.

Word-processors and desk-top publishing. The introduction of word processing software and desk-top publishing packages into classrooms has been hailed by teachers of writing and language arts as a great boon. By allowing children to revise their work easily, the claim goes, computers have allowed students to move beyond the agonizing process of hand-written or typed rewrites of a composition and focus on the substance of what they want to say. In cases where the software used is sophisticated, it may allow the student not only to manipulate the text itself, but may also provide the student with hints, guidance, and gentle correction of spelling, grammar, and syntax. The addition of desk-top publishing capabilities - - embedded pictures, graphs, varied type faces and sizes, borders and columns - - allows the student to produce a document that may rival what a full-fledged print shop could have done twenty years ago.

The problem here may lie in the support that such environments provide for focusing on the details of a composition, whether having to do with grammar or lay-out, rather than the substance of the thoughts expressed. As the Canadian writer Stephen Leacock once said when asked by a young correspondent how he could become as famous a writer as Leacock, "Don't try to write: try to think: then when you really have something to say and want to say it very much, say it. That process is called writing." [32] This sort of deep reflection is not made impossible by word processing software, but it is not encouraged, either.

Desk-top publishing programs lead to a similar kind of fascination with form over function. As a number of observers have noted, the initial introduction of such software tools into organizations led to the appearance of a plethora of ugly, unreadable newsletters and memos as authors and public-relations specialists immediately experimented with the full range of fonts, ding-bats, graphic images, and page layout designs available, often combining numerous different forms in one document [33].

The point is not to deny the possibility that many teachers and students will be able to use these new tools to create instructional products characterized by elegant composition and attractive layout. Rather, it is to suggest that such software carries within it both affordances (the possibility of checking spelling, of moving text around, etc.) as well as constraints (the lack of any way of checking the quality of arguments made, the organization of the discussion; the focus on variety of presentation mode, rather than on clarity). The affordances are what we typically attend to, and they are also what the advertisements for such products often feature; the constraints are not only invisible, but their existence, which an earlier generation would have taken for granted and compensated for in other ways, is now increasingly ignored. It is as if we have somehow collectively decided that the form and presentation shall be given not just equal, but superior, weight as compared to the quality of thought, the force of argument, the elegance and simplicity of presentation.

]Databases and hypermedia. Using a database to store, organize, and retrieve information seems a natural addition to the teacher's armamentarium. Teachers concerned to help their charges master these skills have often built such activities into their classroom practice, either through use of materials that require students to think about gaining access to and using the information, or simply by taking the students to the school library and having them learn the necessary skills. Databases facilitate this process by allowing students themselves to define the structure of the information, identify what is to be recorded, and then work with the resulting set of information in various ways. Already-existing databases (electronic card catalogues and other kinds of data on CD-ROM increasingly found in school libraries) offer students similar experiences but without the initial step of defining the content.

While none of these approaches is bad, they do impose certain kinds of constraints that are not usually noted by proponents of their use. If students themselves construct databases, for example, they are limited to the particular specifications of given database software for the kinds and formats of information that can be entered (for example, the length of a field, alphabetic vs. numeric information). Too, the ways in which information can be organized and retrieved must conform to what the system makes possible. The spread of ready-made macros, bundled together with commercial software, exacerbates this problem, making it ever easier for the user to accept someone else's pre-designed "solution.". Likewise, in library systems and CD-ROMs, the way the material is structured largely determines what work can be done with it and what can be extracted. Hypermedia (combinations of video, text, graphics, music, and animation) allow the user to follow varied, non-linear links among chunks of information, but the set of possible links is often itself pre-specified by the designer of the materials. These constraints may not be problems at all, but they may emerge as issues if the material is not naturally presented in the ways the student wishes to work with it.

The affordances of databases also need special attention. As with the possibility of placing form over function in work with word processors, the ability instantly to retrieve large amounts of information about a topic becomes something of an end in itself. Quantity is confused with quality, and the more subtle clues that formerly allowed (and encouraged) students to make judgments about the real value of a book or other information (a known and trustworthy source, the strength and completeness of the supporting evidence, the reasonableness of conclusions drawn, the quality of organization, the rhetorical strength of argument) often wash out in electronic form.

The issue, as in the case of spreadsheets, is whether we wish to encourage students to think of information as an ultimately fungible, reducible commodity, one which, to be useful, needs constantly to be recast in different ways (abbreviated, cross-referenced into pre-defined categories) so as to make it manipulable, accessible. The separate issue of confusing quantity for quality is similar to that for desk-top publishing, where we are encouraged to mistake variety and flash for substance. These hurdles are not insurmountable, but they require teachers to provide guidance and to fill in cues about the quality of information that may have been removed when it is made available electronically.

Communication and connectivity. As more and more students are able to connect through their school computers with networks, either locally (throughout the school or the district) or on a broader scale (around the nation or the world), new issues surface as regards the value and purpose of such links. As noted above, many interesting things can happen if the connections are carefully thought through in advance. But there is also a risk here, that the fact of connection will be seen in and of itself as a good thing. As Richard Hooper notes, a kind of fetish of interactive communication has emerged, making the link itself the ultimate purpose [34].

The constraints here are obvious - - one can only link electronically with someone who has similar capacities. Likewise, if one party has access to that part of the World-Wide Web (part of the Internet) using an audio-graphical "browser" interface such as Mosaic or Netscape, and the other party is using a text-only interface, one may be able to create and send materials to which one's partner will remain blind.

The affordances also need careful thought. Several studies of how people react to each other when working in an e-mail environment suggest that what happens there is a new kind of communication, especially in comparison to earlier written forms - - less carefully structured, more informal, more intense, less bound by typical social conventions as to what is permissible and what not, more open to "flaming" (]ad hominem attacks on individuals for the content of their messages) [35]. Some maintain that the resulting "communication culture" is more similar to what existed in predominantly oral cultures before the advent of written communication and record keeping. Walter Ong, for example, notes that discourse in pre-literate cultures was often characterized by an "agonistic" tone, repetitious content, features that also characterize communication in contemporary electronic culture [36].

Issues of copyright and intellectual property constitute a further set of affordances and constraints of electronic interchange of information. The possibility here is one of rapidly copying and disseminating materials thousands of times at the push of a few keys, and also includes editing or altering original content before passing material along. When we consider the question of copyright in such environments, the rules and ethical principles which ought to apply are not yet settled. When one is working with children and young people, the situation suggests special caution in making sure that there is an understanding that with the freedom to "publish" and exchange electronically comes a corresponding responsibility to those whose materials are circulated. Issues of access and censorship also come strongly to the fore when making electronic materials available on-line to children. Internet databases were not designed, for the most part, with a K-12 audience in mind, and giving young people access to a resource, parts of which may well offend community standards, is sure to be a contentious issue for parents, educators, and school boards.

]Instructional programs and CAI. Early instructional software often consisted of "electronic workbooks," materials that had been originally prepared for print dissemination and which were simply transferred, often without careful reworking, to the screen. While current computer-assisted instruction relies less heavily on such programs (save, perhaps, in so-called Integrated Learning Systems, where the curriculum often still relies on them), the image that they provide for how to organize and present instructional materials to students is still powerful. Indeed, that image itself, and the form of much CAI software, recalls in a more automated environment the form that was typical of programmed instruction materials from the 1960s.

The constraints of the traditional CAI approach are easy to identify: they usually limit student responses to a few predefined categories; action is restricted to selection from a small number of alternatives, by pushing the appropriate letter or number on a keyboard; the world is presented in a way that suggests it has been thoroughly organized, predigested, reduced to just those elements that are the concern of the invisible, distant instructor. The material itself indicates to the student that the world is ultimately reducible to a set of elements like those contained in the program. Knowledge is presented as a plastic, fungible commodity, dispensed and categorized so that the same number of problems always appears in part I as in part II of the lesson.

The affordances of typical CAI are potentially positive, yet also carry their own distinctive message. The student works in an environment that is immediately defined and controlled by a machine, rather than by another human being. This, for many children, may be a great advantage, for the nonjudgmental and patient tutelage of the computer frees them from the social stigma of being critiqued by a human teacher. Yet the interaction runs the risk of becoming sterile, essentially inhuman. The artist George Tooker provides immediate, powerful images of a world of isolates, people who are shorn of their humanity through lack of humane interaction with their fellows. It is this quality that the radical enthusiasts for more extensive use of technologically based instruction seem not to see.

Simulations. The variety of simulations has increased dramatically in the past few years, and includes programs that allow their users to seem to be "inside" real historical events (e.g., MECC's "Oregon Trail"), chemical processes (much software from TERC - - the Technology Education Resource Center), mathematical equations (the "Geometric Supposer"), and so on. Creating simulated worlds is a major focus for developers working with virtual reality - - computer-based systems with which one interacts using specially fitted goggles that display a seemingly three-dimensional reality in front of one's eyes, and a glove or other device that allows one to maneuver in cyberspace, grasp objects and manipulate them, etc.

The affordances here are significant. Events that take place on planes too small, to dangerous, to distant in time or space, too fast or too slow to be ordinarily perceptible can, through the use of simulations, be made real. The graphic demonstration of particular ways of representing the world can provide important models of cognitive processes for those unable to generate these for themselves. Too, simulations can provide opportunities for children to work collaboratively on projects and to think about solution strategies jointly.

The constraints likely to be encountered in working with simulations are subtle, but real nonetheless. They can probably be overcome with some attention and care on the part of a teacher. First and foremost is the need to realize that this is not reality, that this (the world of the simulation) may not in fact reflect the way that the real world works. Particularly in historical reenactments but also in some biological environments, the variables that are given great weight by the designer of a simulation may not in fact be those that link with key differences in reality. The ways in which variables interact may also be artificially limited by the computer-based environment. A further property of simulations is that there is usually a defined conclusion of some sort, that is, a finish to the game or process. One knows if one has succeeded, and in many cases just how successful one has been (via some system of score keeping). Reality is not necessarily so neat.

Multi-media and graphics. Multi-media and graphics are not so much variants on instructional approaches as they are production variables - - elements that a designer may or may not include in any of the other types of programs discussed above. Nonetheless, they have particular attractiveness, and also particular problems, in computer-based environments, and so it is worth our while to treat them separately here.

The value, the affordances of these features are that they can promote interest, as well as provide for unusual ways of representing information, particular in demonstrating dynamic states whose essence is not well captured in static displays. They capture the user's attention, and (especially in the case of multi-media) they provide for a more complete kind of experience than can be obtained through text, audio, or video alone.

The problems of these approaches are mostly in the kind of habituation they provide to young people, the sense they convey that this is how the world should be presented, as an entertaining, exciting package, with graphics, sound, and other elements routinely vying for attention, whether they add to the learning value of the content being presented or not. Such possibly gratuitous use of graphics, media, and glitz for the sake of entertainment has worried a number of researchers in the field [37]. Additionally, in many programs (CD-ROM encyclopedias seem to be especially susceptible to this problem), the space taken up by the multi-media components (particularly video) is often a significant portion of all the space available on the disk, thus limiting the amount of other information which the user can access.

]Summary: Constraints and affordances in educational technology. The values and limitations discussed above give us a somewhat different picture of educational technology than that found in many popular treatments (and a surprising number of scholarly ones) of what technology in education may be "good for." While there are certainly things that technology in classrooms can accomplish, there are also several cautions that need to be addressed. Many of these have to do with the contrast between, on the one hand, the alluring aspects of technology-as-toy and -environment, an attractive world in which all variables seem controllable, all errors retractable, and the world generally a sure and knowable place and, on the other, the messy, unpredictable, eclectic, serendipitous, heavily context-dependent nature of the real world.. These qualities are not negative in and of themselves, but they need to be recognized consciously and handled by a sensitive teacher if technology in education is to develop a more human face. What such a vision might actually look like in practice is sketched out briefly below.

Toward a Person-Centered Vision for Technology in Education

The analysis above of constraints and affordances suggests that we have problems not so much in thinking up intriguing uses for technology in education as much as reminding ourselves that education is fundamentally a human, not a technical or economic, activity. It is, or should be in a free and democratic society, concerned radically with the nurturance of human beings who will, because of the ways in which they have been encouraged to develop within the educational system, willingly choose an appropriate life for themselves that will enhance both their own well-being and the economic and social well-being of others. To make of education primarily an economic activity, the generation of "well-trained, competitive workers for the global economy," is to put the cart before the horse. This state of affairs, while arguably important, should be a sought-for consequence of our having done reasonably well at educating human beings, not the primary goal in and of itself.

Nor should we allow ourselves to slip into the hacker's dream world where the program and its effects on individual consciousness become ends in themselves. While generation of particular cognitive effects is clearly a desirable goal, there are many cases in which the learning promoted by such programs appears to have been seen by the program's designer in ways that are decontextualized, separated from social intents and consequences, unconnected with life.

To introduce and use technology for educational ends, I would argue that the system we should want has roughly these qualities:

(1) It places human values, and educational purposes, over and above economic or other socially expedient ends for education, as well as over and above a fascination with technology as an end unto itself;

(2) It makes educational ends the criteria for selecting and using software (and hardware), and for encouraging certain experiences that software may support. It also focuses on how these kinds of applications support the fundamental development of those who use them (students and teachers), rather than taking their use in business settings as a sufficient reason to introduce them into classrooms;

(3) It recognizes that, for teachers and others who work with children, the process of coming to grips with technology in their work is not one of merely adding a "quick fix" to their classroom repertoires. Such approaches have a long history, particularly in American education, and teachers have become used to thinking that this is how professional self-development should proceed. But our experience to date suggests that technology is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other kinds of classroom innovations, that it requires a radical shift in both teaching style and the teacher's vision of what classroom life is all about. The time required to assimilate these new images, particularly for older teachers, will be significant - - on the order of years rather than hours or days. Too, this new vision is one that changes the teacher's role in basic ways, reducing the importance of "chalk and talk," increasing the need for sensitivity to individual students' problems and achievements, shifting how classrooms are laid out, how evaluation is conducted, how teachers relate to their colleagues, and a hundred other particulars of daily life in schools.

(4) Administratively, the advent of technology raises the question of how information about the school ought to be collected and shared within the organization. Creating processes that feature open collection and sharing of information, and even more so new ways of acting and relating to one another as professionals engaged in a common enterprise, will require extraordinary support and sensitivity. The challenge for administrators, many of whom have spent all their lives in systems that are thoroughly bureaucratic, is no less than that for teachers; the problematic features of bureaucratic systems are less amenable to individual solution (as are many of teachers' practices) and more often codified in various sorts of district regulation, administrative code, and state law.

Addressing this complex of issues will not be easy. Education is characterized today by countervailing forces. Some interpret technology as merely a tool for improving the ways we do things now, a set of devices and procedures that allow us to extend the efficiency and the effectiveness of schooling without altering underlying assumptions about the roles and relationships of the students, teachers, parents, and administrators involved. The possibility of seeing technology as a very different kind of tool - - one oriented toward the development of individual capacities in a social context, and toward restructuring the work of schools - - is more rarely suggested. Yet is this set of properties of technology that may ultimately win it a more permanent place in education than it has found to date. The task of reconceiving how we think about technology is not a small one, but it is one we need to confront.


1 Lewis Mumford, Technics and civilization (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1963).

2 Jacques Ellul, The technological society (New York: Knopf, 1964).

3 H. Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg galaxy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962).

4 Elizabeth Eisenstein, The printing press as an agent of change. Two vols. (New York: Cambridge, 1979).

5 C. Luke, Pedagogy, printing, and Protestantism: The discourse on childhood (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989).

6 Samuel C. Florman, Blaming technology: The irrational search for scapegoats (New York: St. Martin's, 1981).

7 Langdon Winner, Autonomous technology (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977); see also his "Do artifacts have politics?", Daedalus 109, no. 1 (1980): 121-136.

8 Henry Petroski, To engineer is human: The role of failure in successful design (New York: St. Martin's, 1985).

9 Ted Nunan, Countering educational design (New York: Nichols, 1983); Stephen T. Kerr, "Technology, teachers, and the search for school reform," Educational Technology Research and Development 37, no. 4 (1989): 5-17.

10 Michael Streibel, "A critical analysis of the use of computers in education," Educational Communication and Technology Journal 34, no. 3 (1986): 137-161.

11 Richard Hooper, "A diagnosis of failure," AV Communication Review 17, no. 3 (1969): 245-264; "Computers and sacred cows," Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 6, no. 1 (1990): 2-13.

12 Robert M. W. Travers, "Educational technology and related research viewed as a political force," in Second handbook of research on teaching, ed. Robert M. W. Travers (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1973), pp. 979-996.

13 Robert Heinich, "The proper study of instructional technology," Educational Communication and Technology Journal 32, no. 2 (1984): 67-87; "Instructional technology and the structure of education," Educational Communication and Technology Journal 33, no. 1 (1985): 9-15.

14 Lewis Perelman, School's out: Hyperlearning, the new technology, and the end of education (New York: Morrow, 1992).

15 Martin Heidegger, The question concerning technology, and other essays (New York: Garland, 1977).

16 Neil Postman, Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology (New York: Knopf, 1992).

17 Shoshanna Zuboff, In the age of the smart machine: The future of work and power (New York: Basic, 1988).

18 Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of freedom (Cambridge: Harvard, 1983).

19 Douglas Noble, The classroom arsenal: Military research, information technology, and public education (New York: Falmer, 1991).

20 Power on! (Washington, DC: Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress, 1988).

21 Douglas Sloan, The computer in education: A critical perspective (New York: Teachers College Press, 1985). C. A. Bowers, The cultural dimensions of educational computing: Understanding the non-neutrality of technology (New York: Teachers College Press, 1988).

22 See, for example, Ann DeVaney's collection of articles evaluating Whittle's Channel One project from a variety of disciplinary and ideological perspectives, Watching Channel One: The convergence of students, technology, & private business (Albany, NY: State University of NY Press, 1994). The collection edited by Robert Muffoletto and Nancy Knupfer raises a number of similar issues: Computers in education: Social, political, and historical perspectives (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1993). The set of papers brought together by Denis Hlynka and John Belland considers the field of educational technology through a variety of unusual conceptual lenses: Paradigms regained: The uses of illuminative, semiotic and post-modern criticism as modes of inquiry in educational technology (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1991).

23 See Larry Cuban, Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920 (New York: Teachers College Press, 1986); "Computers meet classroom: Classroom wins," Teachers College Record 95, no. 2 (1993): 185-210. David K. Cohen, "Educational technology, policy, and practice," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 9, no. 2 (1987): 153-170.

24 Papert's basic ideas were set forth in Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas (New York: Basic, 1980).

25 For an treatment of this issue that shows how such projects can both succeed and fail, see Alexander Uvarov and A. A. Prussakova, "The International Telecommunication Project in the Schools of Moscow (Russia) and New York State (USA)," Educational Technology: Research and Development 40, no. 4 (1992): 111-118.

26 The classical treatment of innovation viewed as dissemination of practice over a normal distribution, see Everett Rogers, Diffusion of innovations (New York: Free Press, 1963; 3rd ed., 1983).

27 The teacher-concerns and levels-of-use typologies are in Gene Hall and Shirley Hord, "Analyzing what change facilitators do: The intervention taxonomy," Knowledge 5, no. 3 (1984): 275-307; and Gene Hall and S. Loucks, "Teacher concerns as a basis for facilitating and personalizing staff development," Teachers College Record 80, no. 1 (1978): 36-53.

28 For two studies that characterize the emerging patterns of teachers' use of technology based on observation of real classrooms, see Karen Sheingold and Martha Hadley, Accomplished teachers: Integrating computers into classroom practice (New York: Bank Street College of Education, Center for Technology in Education, 1990); and Stephen T. Kerr, "Lever and fulcrum: Educational technology in teachers' thinking," Teachers College Record 93, no. 1 (1991): 114-136.

29 J. A. Brown, "Implications of technology for the enhancement of decisions in school-based management schools," International Journal of Educational Media 21, no. 2 (1994): 87-95.

30Stephen T. Kerr, "Toward a Sociology of Educational Technology," in David Jonassen (editor), Handbook of Educational Technology Research (New York: Greenwood, in press).

31(The notion of constraints inherent in a technology is strongly portrayed in the works of both Langdon Winner (op. cit.) and Donald Norman (The psychology of everyday things [New York: Basic, 1988]; Turn signals are the facial expressions of automobiles [Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1992]; Things that make us smart: Defending human attributes in the age of the machine [Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993]). Norman popularized the concept of "affordances and constraints" as a way of discussing what software encourages us to do and discourages us from doing as we learn how to use it and work with it.

32 Stephen Leacock, letter to W. Leslie Barnette, September 8, 1927.

33 This issue has become a bete noire of graphic designer and theorist Edward Tufte; see his The visual display of quantitative information (Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1984).

34 Hooper, op. cit. (1990).

35 Sarah Kiesler, J. Siegel, and T. McGuire, "Social psychological impacts of computer-mediated communication," American Psychologist 39, no. 10 (1984): 1123-1134.

36 Walter Ong, Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word (New York: Methuen, 1982).

37 See Salomon, G. (1984). TV is easy and print is tough: The differential investment of mental effort in learning as a function of perceptions and attributions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 647-658.