Education and Research


Kim H. Veltman

The Electronic Highway and Education: New Doors to Keep Open

Learntec 93, Europäischer Kongress für Bildungstechnologie und betriebliche Bildung, Tagungsband, ed. Uwe Beck, Winfried Sommer, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1994, pp. 423-434.

1. Introduction
2. Questions
3. Domains and Levels of Knowledge
4. Levels of Access
5. Media
6. Space
7. Time
8. Goals
9. Tools
10. Meters
11. Heritage vs. Business
12. Business and Education as Products and Commodities
13. Entertainment, Info-tainment and Edu-tainment As Business
14. A Larger Business View
15. Conclusions

1. Introduction

Al Gore's vision of an electronic highway conjures up images of fibre optics used to pipeline information. This opens up immense possibilities. Materials which were scattered in different libraries, galleries and other institutions are becoming accessible on line. It also introduces new problems and dangers. How do we navigate on this highway without being inundated by titles and images? In traditional printed books the claims of an author rested on their footnotes and references. What will the electronic versions of footnotes be? How can we keep attentive to the veracity and dependability of sources when the material that appears on the screen is ever more impressive? The System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS, Copyright 1992) being developed at the McLuhan Program offers a model for conceptual navigation on this new highway and explores some alternatives for keeping open our awareness of sources.

SUMS is a software programme that grew out of three scholarly projects: Leonardo da Vinci; a standard bibliography on perspective and the proportional compass. This work on one man, one word and one object raised questions of knowledge retrieval in the case of complex materials. This project is by no means finished. The version being demonstrated at Learntec '93 is part of a prototype using off the shelf software including Toolbook for Multimedia, drawing upon database material in DBase, graphics using AutoCAD, Animator Pro and 3-D Studio as well as materials on video, CD-ROM and laser disc. A version of the complete project is being re-written in C++. Many of the features described below are already working. A number of the features are still in development. Basic to SUMS are a series of concepts: questions, domains and levels of knowledge, levels of access, media, space, time, goals, tools and meters. Part one of the paper describes these briefly. Part two examines some of the larger issues surrounding the electronic highway in terms of dangers and possibilities.

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