We describe four major milestones in our development:
1. In the late sixties we recognized that while computers have tremendous potential for use in education, the technology of that time was marginally effective and too expensive. We consequently adopted a strategy of preparing for a future which has now arrived
2. For the first half of the present decade we withdrew into an “ivory tower” and developed methods for using a technology which seemed futuristic to most of our colleagues engaged more directly in the day-to-day struggle to introduce computers into schools.
3. We are now standing at the third milestone. We recognize that the new technology has matured even slightly faster than we anticipated and will diffuse into schools during the next five years. We are almost alone among workers on educational technology to have concentrated on the intellectual content of how the new generation of computer technology can be used. We have to prove to the world that the methods we have developed are feasible, accessible to schools, cost effective and educationally meaningful. An experiment and demonstration to this purpose is the pivotal theme of this proposal
4. The fourth milestone will be large-scale dissemination. While this is logically contingent on the success of our proposed evaluative experiments, we argue that it would be foolish not to prepare materials for dissemination in parallel with conducting the experiments. Reasons for this include:
a. The experiment itself will be more convincing if it uses teaching materials which could in principle be disseminated “as is.”
b. Time is of the essence. New technologies will diffuse into the schools and in the absence of available well-tried methods, untried ones will become established. And if this happens society will have to pay for one more expensive case of that bind which paradoxically places the major cost of innovation in the undoing of the old rather than the construction of the new.
Papert, S. (1975-76) An Evaluative Study of Modern Technology in Education.
Versions of this piece were published as “MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Memo No. 371,” (June, 1976), and as “LOGO Memo No. 26.” This piece was based on a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) submitted in 1975.