Brown CS Blog

A Rediscovered Video Documents Brown University's Revolutionary 1976 Use Of Hypertext In Education


    Already being described as "astounding" and "visionary" as it makes its way across the Internet, a short film from forty years ago ("Hypertext: an Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University") has just surfaced after being lost for decades. It documents an extraordinary early use of computing to enhance the learning experience of students taking a poetry course in 1976.

    Speaking to us from an era more familiar to the parents of today's digital natives, Professor Andy van Dam of the Department of Computer Science and his collaborators demonstrate the use of responsive software, computer-enabled social learning, and hyperlinks that supplement primary texts with additional material. Seeing the affordances of modern computing made available to the college students of 40 years ago is striking: what's perhaps even more remarkable is the thoughtful analysis and keen insight with which van Dam and his colleagues and students ponder the potential of this "creative graffiti" and its impact on education and discourse. Poetry indeed! 

    The film is available here.

    For more information, please click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.