ABSTRACT

In the early 1980s, I gazed into the silicon chip (Chipman & Butler, 1983, 1985), seeking to give a U.S. perspective on the way that microcomputers would affect the future of education. Now that we have stepped nearly a decade into that future, it is time to reflect and to gaze into the future once again. At that time, some believed that the availability of computerized instruction would result in the withering away of schools as we have known them. Others believed that the computers which were being so enthusiastically purchased would end up locked in closets and that schools would go on as before. They believed that schools would be as little changed by computers as they have been by prior waves of educational technology (Needle, 1982). Still others saw in computers an opportunity for revitalization, an impetus to change, and a potential solution to the problems of limited individual attention, limited productivity, and shortages of technically qualified teachers that beset education (Melmed, 1984). Each of these alternative futures had not only its believers but also its active promoters. For each person who saw in technology the promise of making outstanding instruction available everywhere-in the home, in the remote rural location, in the urban classroom, there seemed to be another who considered technology as an unwelcome distraction of attention and financial resources that would be better spent attaining the traditional goals of a liberal education (Boyer, 1983).