By Tara Brabazon
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Additional resources for Digital hemlock: Internet education and the poisoning of teaching
Our students have revealed the farcical misunderstanding by administrators of the university experience. Bulletin boards were built: the customers did not enter them. There has been a confusion of technology with education, and tools with learning. Also, a system that was originally meant to save money through the decline of expensive academic hours has actually cost much more. Professor Tim O’Shea, master of Birkbeck College in London and a major force behind the Blair government’s dream of an e-university, has presented his ‘supposition … that you can use information communications technology to improve higher education.
Correspondence students were also active and did well. Ironically, online students were far less involved in the webbased offerings. That is, the very people who could best gain from the assistance of staff did not use the site. It was those who were on-campus, who were already present for lectures, workshops, tutorials and consultancy appointments, who gained another node of learning. 41 To argue that the Internet is an effective mechanism to alleviate the isolation of online education is not addressing accessibility issues.
Further, the illusion of access promoted by computers creates confusion between the presentation of information and the capacity to use, sort and interpret it. Students have difficulty matching research needs with indexes: such a difficulty is only intensified through databases. Cerise Oberman demonstrates the clear intellectual gap between information and knowledge within the university library: The reference staff strategically placed corresponding print and CD-ROM indexes next to each other.
Digital hemlock: Internet education and the poisoning of teaching by Tara Brabazon