Education and Research


Kim H. Veltman

Databanks in Education

The 12th E.C.O.O. and the 8th I.C.T.E. Joint Conference, Toronto, (May 1991), pp. 412-418.


The author proposes that images in textbooks can be coded and linked with images in databanks produced by art galleries, museums and libraries and explores consequences that this will have for education.

1. Introduction
2. Textbooks and Databanks
3. Practical Examples
Mathematics Science
4. Active and Interactive Knowledge
5. Multiculturalism
6. Knowledge as a Continuum
7. Conclusions

1. Introduction

There are many who see the electronic revolution as a natural consequence of the industrial revolution, and view both in terms of replacing human labour with mechanical substitutes in the interests of efficiency and speed. In the factory this is obviously the case, and some assume that it should apply to all fronts: in stores, offices and even in the classroom. The reasons for this can readily be identified. The rise of television, video and interactive programmes have undermined the teaching of reading skills. The rise of spellcheck programmes have introduced the temptation of using machines as a substitute for teaching spelling and writing. The advent of pocket calculators has posed similar temptations with respect to teaching arithmetic. It is important to recognize that, no matter how fast machines become, the problem of teaching the three R's (reading, writing and arithmetic), will remain.

Indeed, there are many things that computers will probably never do. Computers cannot teach children to be polite, to have a sense of respect and decency, compassion and other basic human values. Even a personal computer cannot be personal or teach children about personality. Only humans can teach human values. Hence, the electronic revolution in classrooms must be different than the story of automation in factories, and cannot be seen in purely economic terms as a new labour saving device. It is not a question of replacing teachers with more efficient machines, but rather a challenge of using the new media to make knowledge more accessible and thus expand the horizons of both teachers and students. This paper offers a practical vision of how this can be achieved in Ontario, thus making our province a model for new educational possibilities. By way of context the limitations of textbooks in education will be considered, and the fundamental advantages of databanks will be outlined. Practical examples will be given in a variety of subjects including geography, history, language, literature, religion, mathematics and science. Some of the deeper implications of this new approach for multiculturalism, active and interactive learning, and its potentials for new approaches to knowledge will then be explored.

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