Humanism, Humanities and Hypertext: Learning, Authority and Ethics in the Electronic Classroom

Document type: Researchreports
Full text:
Author(s): Michael Davis
Title: Humanism, Humanities and Hypertext: Learning, Authority and Ethics in the Electronic Classroom
Series: Research Report
Year: 1999
Issue: 19
ISSN: 1103-1581
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Dept. of Humanities and Social Science (Institutionen för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap)
Dept. of Hum. and Soc. Sci., S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 780 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: “. . .it is impossible to strip the human element out from even
our most abstract theorizing.”—William James (450)
As Nicholas Negroponte, the founding director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab, sees it, information technology’s great contribution to education will be in multimedia.
Multimedia assisted pedagogy will, according to Negroponte, bring sound and images into the classroom; it will allow for independent learning and, ultimately, it will
bridge the gap, imposed by the traditional academic disciplines, between “technology and the humanities, science and art, between right brain and left” (81). Many of us
teaching in the humanities might wonder about the role of written language in Negroponte’s vision and rightfully so. Neither he nor Bill Gates (or, for that matter, the popular press) are overly concerned with the fate of writing and the problems of teaching written texts. However, since the late eighties a great many academics have been teaching successfully with important text-based writing technologies,
technologies that have dramatically effected, far more than multimedia CD-ROMs ever will, the web of human relationships that engage in them: reshaping the nature of
the classroom, the role of the instructor and the activities of the students. In this essay I will introduce those technologies, discuss the pedagogical debates surrounding them and finally argue for a critical approach to their implementation. As you will hopefully agree, the lessons from nearly ten years of computer-assisted pedagogy are
dangerous to ignore — particularly for those of us concerned with the ‘humanism’ of the humanities.
Subject: The Humanities\English
Keywords: Hypertext, Multimedia, Pedagogy, Computer-assisted pedagogy, Ethics
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-00144