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Computers and Language: A Look to the Future

By Bertram C. Bruce


This research was supported by the National Institute of Education under Contract No. 400-81-0030. I would like to thank Andee Rubin for helpful comments on an early draft, and Barbara Trachtenberg and Patti Gilmore for preparation of the manuscript. Computers and language are intimately connected in four ways: (1) the computer is a tool for representing knowledge through symbols, (2) it is a device for interpreting symbolic structures, (3) it is a communication device, and (4) it is a redefinable tool. This essay considers these four aspects of computers by taking an excursion into a classroom of the year 2010, and then looking back to evidence of precursors in classrooms of the 1980's. What place should the computer have in the language arts classroom? [I use the term "language arts" in a broad sense to encompass classrooms at any grade level in which the focus is on learning how to use, understand, and appreciate language.] Many people would say "none at all. " If they see any connection between computers and language learning it is that the study of language, with its attendant emphasis on culture and history, and especially, the study of literature, should serve as an antidote to a society that seems increasingly centered on technology. Of all the new technologies, the one which appears to threaten humanistic learning and values th

Year: 1985
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