If, according to some critics, computer is only a tool, a «stupid» tool in the hands of the user, if not even a «killer» of creativity, others claim that computer science and new technologies have become real mindtools, «intellectual partners», «knowledge amplifiers», «extensions of human intelligence». Because of these opposite positions, it is especially difficult to interpret the limited impact of technologies on learning processes: is it a matter of prejudices the school world has not yet got rid of, or is it because most educational hypertexts and other e-learning tools offer the same contents and the same communication strategies with only a change in the medium? In a sense it is surprising to note how many people currently take computers as tools to duplicate the traditional teacher-student relationship, with basically the same communication strategies at work. Contrary to such an attitude, it will be argued that, esp. in the field of human sciences, e-learning cannot be used as a «simple tool» and is not appropriate for the transmission of pieces of information and documents. It is meant, rather, to cooperate in the construction of our own knowledge. Computer science could offer a fertile way to learning, on condition that computer pass from the hands of the teacher to those of the student, so that (s)he can complete discoveries and experiments in a personal research environment, being able to construct actively his/her own knowledge and exploring a microcosm rich in logical experiences, simulations and learning. This way, the «calculating machine» would become a privileged environment that offers many ways to let the creativity of users emerge. This way, computer can be defined not just as a «simple tool», but as a real «learning partner». Now, if so, paradigms in the use of computers and, more generally, e-learning are in need of a radical redefinition.
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