Plenary Speaker Profile (2000)
John Etchemendy
Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department
Stanford University
Using and Abusing Technology in Education

It has become increasingly popular to predict that the Internet will completely revolutionize higher education, and perhaps even render the traditional University obsolete. True, most predictions of the imminent demise of the University are made by people who either know little about higher education or little about computer technology (or both). But it is striking how many serious people seriously question the future of traditional, geographically-based universities once the impact of the information revolution has been fully played out.

There is no question that computers and the Internet will have a huge and largely salutary effect on higher education. Some of these changes will be revolutionary; more will be evolutionary as the full and varied potential of the new tools is realized. But the University will survive -- and in easily recognizable form.

In this talk, I will discuss why I make that claim -- why I am not worried about the continued need for traditional universities, or their ability to put to effective use the very technologies that some see as threatening their existence. At the same time, I will explain where I think universities have failed in their approach to educational technology, and what we need to do to take a more sophisticated approach.

John Etchemendy is a Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of seven books in logic, and co-developer of six pieces of educational software for use in logic instruction, for which he shared the 1997 Educom Medal with his collaborator, Jon Barwise of Indiana University. Their most recent instructional package, Language, Proof and Logic, consists of a six hundred page textbook, four pieces of instructional software, and an Internet-based grading service. Etchemendy was the chair of Stanford's Presidential Commission on Technology in Teaching and Learning, and is a member of Stanford's Learning Technologies Board. He was formerly Senior Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford.