Information Technology in Today's Learning

When Indiana University was founded in 1820, only Greek and Latin were taught. The curriculum has obviously changed over time, in response to both intellectual and practical needs. The most recent school to be established at Indiana University, the School of Informatics responds to the world's changing needs and offers five master's programs: bioinformatics, chemical informatics (including laboratory informatics), human-computer interaction design, music informatics, and security informatics.

One might say that programming languages and software tools are the Greek and Latin of our times, and no person can be called truly educated without mastery of these "languages." It is not intended to suggest that the classical languages, or any natural languages, have been supplanted by Perl and Java. Indeed, making available the classical corpus in searchable digital form was one of the first applications of computing to the humanities. The point is to suggest the pervasiveness of information technology in all of civilized life. Much as Greek and Latin opened doors to the scholarship of the nineteenth century, so does information technology open doors to the art and science of the twenty-first century.

The development of networks and distributed systems over the past several decades has changed forever the notion of a computer as something that merely "computes." The computer now is an "information processor." Also gone is the idea of a computer as a stand-alone system. Instead it is a "communication node." Arthur C. Clarke once said that "a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Unfortunately, many people see computers and the Internet as magical. The mission of the School of Informatics is to educate citizens that advanced information technology is indistinguishable, or at least inseparable, from science and the arts.

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