We’ve Been Imagined

From Derrick Bostrom a collection of scanned photos from a 1962 book by Arnold Barach, predicting what the role of technology in our (white middle class) lives would be in 1975. I was particularly taken with these images of how technology could be used to assist learning in that then-distant future. Sigh. We haven’t come very far in the last 46 years. I think the best use for these photos is to hold them in store for when an over-enthusiastic elearning vendor tells you how innovative their technology is.

Teacher’s Helper. In this classroom, the lesson and questions-in spelling, history, geography, and other subjects-are on a series of stacked cards at the top of the device. The student answers the questions by pushing one of four buttons. If he pushes the right one, the page drops down, revealing the next step in the lesson. The machine also scores each student, thus spots the slow learners for the teacher.”

Push-Button Learning. Teaching machines break complicated subject matter into bit-by-bit segments, permitting each student to progress at his own pace. This machine, for example (called the “AutoTutor” ), first presents a unit of information. Then come questions based on what the student has learned, together with alternate answers. If the student presses the right buttons for the answers, he is “rewarded” with a new unit of study which appears on the machine. If he flubs the answers, a paragraph of text appears on the screen setting him right, and then he tries again. On the right is a classroom demonstration of the machine—a scene that will be commonplace in future years in most schools.”

Film Based Teaching Machine. Student pushes one of four buttons to give answers and his score appears on paper slip at upper right. Teaching machines, expected to boom in the next decade, usually operate on the principal of repetition until the pupil understands. They aim to speed up the learning process and relieve teacher of much paper work in the classroom.”

2 Comments so far

Graham Durant-Law

Hi Patrick.

This is a one of the most interesting posts I have seen in a long time!  Isn’t it facinating to revist our past?

I am a fan of Star Trek (maybe I shouldn’t admit that!).  I always find it interesting that so many things portrayed in that series are coming true today.  As a very simple example we can talk to computers and issue simple commands on our PC or Apple.  Already we have particles being teleported.  How long will it be before we can teleport small objects like a pen or tennis ball?

So to stay with your theme more than 30 years ago the future was being imagined!  I haven’t read any modern science fiction in a long time - maybe I should! My Grandftaher saw the flight of the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, so maybe I will see teleportation of paperclips in my lifetime!

Best Regards, Graham

Posted on March 19, 2008 at 04:59 PM | Comment permalink

Oh, do I feel old! I remember teaching machines! I remember being a student using a teaching machine. I have written programmed instruction (the content that teaching machines delivered).

They were dreadful, even then.

What we can do now is nothing like we could have imagined in 1962. I think what we will be able to do in 2053 will turn out to have been just as unimaginable.

Posted on March 20, 2008 at 05:05 AM | Comment permalink

Page 1 of 1 pages

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Comment Guidelines: Basic XHTML is allowed (<strong>, <em>, <a>) Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically generated. URLs are automatically converted into links.