Selecting, Managing and Marketing Technology

Appendix B - A Future Perfect Scenario

In this scenario, we explore what learning might be like in the future with highly intelligent hand-held computers acting as tutors and learning assistants.

Amy and Nakisha, two middle school students, arrive with a team of class-mates at the archeological dig site and proceed directly to their assigned square, designated by a grid of string stretching across the remains of what used to be an Iroquois long house.

"Where did we leave off yesterday?" they ask Joe, their hand held computer.

A smiling face appears on the small screen and provides directions. "You were carefully removing soil from your square when you ran out of time. One of your brushes had begun to uncover what looked like a pottery fragment."

The girls nod their heads and bend down close to see if they can still make out the outline of the fragment. "There it is!" exclaims Nakisha, excitedly. She begins brushing around the piece with great care as she has been taught to do by Joe's careful tutoring. As several inches of surface are freed of dust, a faded painting (perhaps of flowers?) begins to emerge.

Amy holds Joe close to the fragment so the computer can scan the image. "Take a look at this painting, Joe, and tell us what you can."

Joe's scanner goes to work and quickly reproduces the image from the pottery shard to its own screen. After a few moments, Joe reports that several similar pieces were located in nearby squares just that morning by two other teams.

"Can you let us see all of the pieces together?"

The girls stare at the fragments and then begin to move them around on the screen like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, only the computer allows for a three dimensional effect. Gradually, the pieces begin to take on the look of a water jug.

"Can you clean this up and show us from your memory images of other similar pieces found at other sites ? "

The girls peer down at the screen and watch the fragments being rearranged, merged and then brightened on the screen before them. The computer shows them what looks like a freshly made jug with a decorative ring of brightly painted flowers. Another five similar pieces appear in a brief slide show narrated by Joe, who explains which tribe created each piece and what features were unique to each piece or tribe's work.

"Can you date this for us, Joe and get a hold of our teacher for us so we can report our findings?"

Mrs. Grimm's face appears on the screen with a grand smile. "Great work, girls! You have added another important piece to the puzzle. Go right ahead and finish the removal of your fragment, following the normal procedure for labeling, boxing and storing. Send a message to the nearby teams so they can profit from your findings. I'll see you in class tomorrow."

© 1993, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved.