Monday, February 07, 2005


"Beyond Computer Literacy" Revisited

Click the title of this posting to see Stephen Ehrmann's essay to which I am reacting.

Let's try another perspective. Once there were two highly competent professors, Socrates and Plato, the former rejecting the invention of writing, the radical new transforming technology of his day, and the latter, reinventing it for his thinking. Staying with the tried and true did not harm the wisdom or the values of the thinking of Socrates. However, Plato did have to speak for him by writing some of his ideas in ways that would reach us across time. Digital technology also offers new ways to reach across time and reach across space in ways more relevant to the highly interactive nature of human beings. On that I think Ehrmann and I would agree.
My first disagreement is with his college level perspective; the digital desert of the public school desktop would also greatly benefit from computer literacy. My second is with Ehrmann making the case for change by leading with examples of what one can only do by using current digital technology. Though a common strategy of the polemicist, creating a friction to diverge is counter-productive. We might better be able to proceed by finding common ground with the "Socratic faction" instead of making them feel disabled. I would prefer that we work from terminology that supports a continuum of skills and procedures, from stone tools, to speech, to writing and to digital expression.
As counter to his thinking I would offer these 3 starting branches: problem finding, problem framing and problem solving. For an example of how this strategy might proceed, I invite readers to click the iCROP link towards the top right of this page and explore how these dimensions do lead deeply into the digital age. We are at the threshhold of both local and global communities that deeply engage themselves to resolve their problems. Communities that Resolve Our Problems (CROP) makes digital tools central to the process, yet encourages the effective nature of prior systems of thought. No one system can do it all; any single system that attempts it all will fail.

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