The Vision

Scenario 1

Monday morning Kirk flipped on the workstation in his dorm room. He ran his picture ID card through the scanner and entered his PIN. The screen filled with his student desk top. On the left side were the names of the six courses that he had enrolled in this semester. In the middle was his calendar showing class times, what assignments were due on each day, and when tests and quizzes were scheduled. At the bottom of the screen was a list of incoming messages from fellow students and one from an instructor. It also listed several announcements of upcoming events on campus and news items that passed through the filter of his profile of interests. At the right side of the screen were a curious set of icons representing abstract tools of education. The first icon looked like a book shelf; the second like a public library building; the third like a computer; and the rest were symbols whose functions were known only to the elite group of experimental cyberlearners at the university. Kirk used the mouse and clicked on an envelop icon to read his first incoming message. It read: ...


News from the rain forest. Its raining. But seriously, my part of the report is finished. Let me know how you are doing on your section. Can we merge them on Wednesday?

Bye for now,


Scenario 2

Jessie entered her home room in high school and sat down at one of the desks. She pushed her notebook pad into an information/power slot on the desk. The response was immediate. Five new icons appeared on the notebook screen. She touched the first icon. It exploded on the screen into her daily schedule and a set of school announcements. She touched a spot on the screen that was labeled "French Club." The screen filled with a message from the president of the club in French. She read it and started typing on the touch screen as if it was a typewriter keyboard.

Dear President Luis:

I think we should hold the annual club dinner at Le Nicewa. I like the waiters on roller skates. I know it is expensive, but we can have a fundraiser. Sincerely, Jessie.

Then she checked her scheduleand assignments for the day. Her next class was algebra.--not her favorite; but she was doing well thanks to the function visualization and direct manipulation system that had replaced static formulas and equation s two years ago.

Scenario 3

Olivia sat down at one of the twenty touch top desks in the second grade classroom. She put on the cordless earphones and placed her index finger on the surface of the desk. A three minute animation showing baskets of apples bouncing on the screen illustrated the relationship between addition and multiplication. After completing a set of five problems using a plastic stylus on the screen, she went on to the next exercise. The teacher scanned his own monitor to see how the class was progressing and who needed special help. Since they were ahead of schedule, today he would allow extra time playing with the interactive story/drama system. The class was collectively writing a play which they would enact by reading the scripts on either their desks or the wall monitor. Olivia was to play the part of Quenn Regula. Her first line was "I like to write rules for my subjects to obey. That is why I want to teach them all to read." The class thought that was particularly funny.

Each of these scenarios is technologically possible today and all of them are currently being explored in experimental prototype classrooms around the world. The reality of electronic education is rapidly approaching as advances in hardware and software open up a vast range of possibilities. Researchers are beginning to explore what can be done and what the results will be in the electronic classroom of the future. School administrators, teachers, and students themselves are becoming aware of the changes and beginning to brace themselves for the inevitable--the Switched-On Classroom.

Very little happens that is new in the world without a vision. Fortunately in educational technology and in computer science and among educators in many disciplines there is no lack of vision. There is great excitement and expectation for what is about to happen in the classroom. In Chapter 1 we will introduce the vision of the electronic classroom; in Chapter 2 we will take a necessary step back to inspect the failed visions of the recent past and how to remedy them; and in Chapter 3 we will give reason for the enthusiasm for the vision.

[Table of Contents] [Preface] [Chapter 1]