I was the first person in my high school to write a senior thesis using a computer. My teacher was very skeptical. The conversation went something like this:
Jim: I would like to write my thesis on a computer, is that okay?
Teacher: No, I don't like that dot matrix print.
Jim: I have a daisy wheel printer which looks and formats just like a typewriter.
Teacher: I don't believe that.
(Jim digs through bag and shows him proof of daisy wheel printer output).
(Mind you this is a TRS-80 Model II with 64k of RAM and no hard drive).
Jim: I can turn the spell check off.
Teacher: Why do you want to write it on a computer anyway? Isn't it just the same as writing it on a typewriter in the end?
Jim: Not really. With the computer I spend more of my time focused on the composition and less time on merely typing and retyping the same pages.
As we move forward in technology, our productivity is enhanced. In my case it was merely getting freedom from the IBM Selectric that sat in my bedroom.
Today it is in actual speed of research. But apparently a professor in Brighton is on a crusade to stop student from using Google or Wikipedia for their research. Professor Tara Brabazon says (emphasis mine):
"It is down to institutions to prevent this from happening. It is not good for anybody.
"I don't think students come to university to learn how to use Google, they can all do that before they get here.
"It is an easy way out for tutors to let them work to their own devices using search engines.
"People have to pay to come to university now and what they are paying for is the knowledge, experience and guidance of people like myself.
"There is a school of thinking that it should be about them directing their own learning but I think giving guidance is crucial.
"I ban my students from using Google, Wikipedia and other websites like that. I give them a reading list to work from and expect them to cite a good number of them in any work they produce."
Two quick and obvious issues here:
1. Um, why not both?
2. Giving them a reading list is filtering. It's DOING THEIR RESEARCH FOR THEM!
When I read this I, well, I'm still laughing actually. It's so patently obvious that in the quest to remove students from lazy study habits she has, instead, given them an even bigger crutch.
In essence, she's turned research into book reports.
Tara, if you want to give your students specific instruction, tell them they cannot cite Wikipedia directly. Wikipedia and Google are actually neo-card catalogs that drive people to primary sources. Wikipedia is a heavily referenced information source.
Your students should be rewarded for deep research and not rewarded for shallow research. But banning information sources or the primary avenues of initial research is misguided at best.
And please, stop doing their research for them.
For what it is worth, The Inflation Calculator tells me: What cost $4000 in 1981 would cost $9436.59 in 2006.