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Using computers for academic study is highly dubious

2010 October 28
by Jw
Silhouette of businessman with binoculars

… and a few other interesting quotes to share. My presentation at my college, celebrating its 100th birthday, is next week Friday. I thought that reading a few (not necessarily peer-reviewed) articles related to the subject “Geo-information for the new generation” would give me a push in the right direction, and it did. There was no need to go back to 1910, when the college was founded. Going back one generation was good enough for this purpose (I was custom build in 64).

After a not-so-random search, I found some remarkable papers that got me thinking about (applied) knowledge, diffusing of knowledge, the applicability of knowledge in time. And then I tried to relate all of that to geographic information. Below are some quotes I classified as ‘worth sharing’. Update will follow in a week’s time, after the presentation! [my comments]

“Presently, as matters stand in Britain, if a firm should devise a new technique or new service needed by the community, it has very little opportunity to inform the public of the benefits deriving from this innovation”
(The future of professions, Thorncroft, 1969)
[apparently professional bodies provided a “group advertising service”; it seems that advertising was not allowed at the time; barriers to inform others certainly have gone down; I can relate this to other barriers that have come down).

“National boundaries, local customs, define the world of engineering. I say worlds because engineering is not simple knowledge. It is knowledge applied to the solution of society’s problems.”
(The future of engineering education, Hollomon, 1965).
[science is universal, whereas engineering is local?; I need to reread this and dive into science vs engineering; after all, this is an engineering school. I do recognize the purpose of the college in the ‘applied knowledge… society…]

“We are all well aware of the population explosion and the problems and pressures it generates. It took 1600 years from the time of Christ to the year 1600 for the population of the world to double, whereas now it doubles every 42 years. The computer is the most important tool for governments and scientists to use to study the resulting problems and develop viable solutions.”
(The Expanding world of computers, Harder, 1968)
[it is a all just simple arithmetic]

“Therefore, I agree with some of the best-informed men who have written upon education that it has been a most regrettable mistake to ignore in the early years of students the appeals that nature makes. In classical times she was regarded as the kind, persuasive teacher.”
(Education, then and now, Neilson, 1960)
[to me, a case for learning by doing; there is a limit to what you can learn from books; it is also the basis of this college, have to reread its charter]

“The less radical computer-ed advocates are content to introduce computers at the high-school level. Even then, however, the importance of using computers for academic study is highly dubious.” (Computers, good for education?, Skinner, 1997)
[interesting opinion, from only 14 years ago. It relates to how education systems should look at tools; Finding articles and books is a much more efficient way, is one great contribution by using ‘computers’]

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