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Thompson Herb

Cyberspace and Learning


“...there is no teaching anything to wise men... They know everything, --oh, to be sure! --everything that has been, and everything that is, and everything that, by any future possibility, can be. And, should some phenomenon of nature or providence transcend their system, they will not recognize it, even if it come to pass under their very noses.” (Hawthorne 1852)

Computers provide a capacious medium, promising the availability of an enormous quantity of resources at our fingertips. As a result, human memory has been extended with digital media from a basic unit of portable dissemination of 100,000 words (an average book), to a 5.3-gigabyte digital videodisc (equivalent to 5,300 books) (Murray, 1997).

Entering today’s workforce or an institute of higher learning requires fluency with both software and computer hardware. Word processors, spreadsheets, databases, search engines and computer-aided design programs are the tools of contemporary workplaces, soon to become ubiquitous. Learning to use these aids demands a new kind of craftsmanship and artistry. In the context of craftsmanship they promote enhanced productivity and efficiency. More importantly, when artfully used, they enable users to discover new solutions to old problems and to explore problems that were never previously envisaged (Turkle, 1997). .

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