22 October 2006

Just This One Computer User Left Behind

I thought the reading assignments for the week of 24 October were especially appropriate vis-à-vis the dichotomy of learning and teaching. We are in the midst of an introductory class that considers history on the Internet. A main objective is to learn how to harness the power of Internet and conduct more advanced web-based research. Not surprisingly, the seed has been planted early to more complex techniques of historical conveyance on the Internet, which involves theoretical and web-based applications. Despite my initial misgivings and resistance to accepting the "Rosenzweig challenge," to clean up the Internet of incorrect history, I neglected to inform you, of my social status as a husband, father, full-time federal employee, student, reader, hobbyist, commuter, etc. All that I am trying to say is that I have a full schedule, which does not permit me to grab the challenge by the horns, at least not right now. Meanwhile, I found these considerations especially interesting as they relate to the article by David Pace, "The Amateur in the Operating Room." His intent was to examine the efforts being made to bridge the gap between professional research and mediocre teaching practices. I believe Pace postulates a solid argument on refining the skills of historians to teach, which is to be more emblematic of research. The military provides basic instruction for instruction, and more so in the occupational skills of combat arms, such as tanks, artillery, and infantry. Good instruction will determine success on the battlefield. Issues such as ethnic background and social status have limited effects on morale, but many of the same issues that infiltrate the cohesiveness of a unit affect its ability to function in the field. Individuals in leadership positions, such as company commanders, platoon sergeants, and squad leaders are trained to learn details about the people under their charge. Often, this includes every aspect of person, a proverbial "history book" on each man or woman.

The article by T. Mills Kelly, "For Better or Worse," was insightful as well, which reinforced my own conviction that the Web is a common good. Especially interesting were the results of the studies that provide proof of the positive effects of the web on learning. Diversity! Diversity!

Finally, the article by Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenwzweig, "No Computer Left Behind," was a reminder of how much I still regret having to take the GRE test on 27 November. Isn't that one of those multiple-choice tests that only a computer can grade? I wish I had a cell phone to obtain the answer to some contemptuous math problem! I agree with the conclusion of the article 100 percent; if GMU insists that I take a GRE test, which a machine will grade, then I should be able to use a hand-held magical machine for the mathematical portion!