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How To Think About Learning On The Internet

Eric S. Rabkin
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus,
Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature, and
Professor Emeritus of Art & Design
University of Michigan
Brasilia, 05 August 2015

Human beings are made to learn; we do so in infinite ways. How do we learn a first language? With our ears and eyes and tongues and bodies, situated among things and other, older people, trying to use language to live—prosper, play, protest, please, even pray. How do we learn a second language? We may set out to do so with a book in order to pass an examination or we may find ourselves straining for survival in a land of strangers. Just as the term "books" can signify both a set of objects and the contents and uses of those contents, the term "Internet" can signify both a communication infrastructure and the contents and uses of those contents. We have needed since their invention to consider how to think about learning with books. Now we need to consider how to think about learning on the Internet.