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The Firewall in the Mind (Slide 20) Tool based environments

In a recent job I held late last century, I tried to convince my supervisors, who were planning their next language lab purchase, that a computer-based lab would more than meet our need. Talk about a firewall in the mind, I was having to argue with people who insisted we needed the language lab because if I got my way and succeeded in having a computer lab installed, it was not clear how they could do the same kinds of exercises as they always did in the language lab in the new facility. It seems obvious now that a computer-based lab can match all the functions of the old language labs and so much more besides.

The damage done to an institution though failure to develop is impossible to guage and therefore unaccountable, whereas the outcomes from accumulating an set of appropriate technological tools might be difficult to predict, but are generally positive.

More recently I've had it easier. I started my current job as a consultant on the project. They asked me what I thought they should have in their language center and I gave them a checklist of minimal tools that a language learning facility should have on hand: a computer on every teacher's desk and in every teacher's classroom, and labs where students could have access to computers as well, all networked and Internet connected. To to my surprise, considering so many experiences like the one above, they said OK and offered me the job of coordinating setting it up.

But perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. These days in the UAE, they are carrying this notion even further. They are creating laptop universities where every student has a computer. Get this, everyone in the university has a computer except maybe the janitor, and I like to think that he or she logs on at night when everyone has left and the offices are silent.

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Last updated: May 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0