Resisting the Clickable Classroom

One response to the "clickable classroom" scenerio would be to take a fairly hard line. We don't have to banish electronic text from our classrooms. After all, once the fifties frenzy for television in the classroom subsided, we still find it valuable to roll in a VCR once in a while to give students an experience that they can't get from text. But we roll it out again, too, and make our students read, and make them think, write and talk about what they read.

Perhaps then we have a duty to ensure that the print age does not pass quite as quickly from the scene as the techno-utopians and quick-fix politicians would like. Although the educational establishment must change with the times, it need not mirror everything in those times. Perhaps the essence of academic discourse, if that's really what we want to teach, is to be something other than a non-linear clickable world--a world founded on books, or at least on extended electronic documents without multitudinous links to tempt the reader to surf off in every direction the minute the material seems boring. Very possibly the electronic age will make this type of classroom more rather than less important as it may be the only place in which sustained discourse, and the mental disciplines that accompany it, occur with any regularity.

This is not nearly as head-in-the-sand as it might seem. The academy has always been a different place from the "outside," a place for sustained intellectual processes occur which do not always occur elsewhere. Since some of the major layers of insulation (such as conducting learning in Latin) have been removed, the distinction is not as obvious as it might once have been. But, as Ong points out, the entire world of literacy is largely artificial. Education represents an attempt to move the child from the "natural" world of orality to the "artificial" world of literacy, with the epistemological shift thereby entailed.

On the other hand, this might just be an obsolete papyrocentric attitude.


The Clickable Classroom What we're resisting or embracing.
Co-opting the Clickable Classroom Another approach.
Papyrocentric Attitudes In which I question my own doom and gloom, and segue into some teacherly concerns

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