Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 149–162 | Cite as

The Development of Early Computer-Assisted Writing Instruction (1960–1978): The Double Logic of Media and Tools

  • Carl Whithaus


This essay traces a distinction between computer-mediated writing environments that are tools for correcting student prose and those that are media for communication. This distinction has its roots in the influence of behavioral science on teaching machines and computer-aided writing instruction during the 1960s and 1970s. By looking at the development of the time-shared, interactive, computer-controlled, information television (TICCIT) and early human–computer interaction (HCI) research, this essay demonstrates that hardware and software systems had the potential to work as both tools and media. The influence of this double logic is not only historical but also has implications for post-secondary writing instruction in the age of Microsoft Word, ETS's e-rater, and the “reading/assessment” software tools being developed by Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT). This essay challenges composition researchers and computational linguists to develop pedagogies and software systems that acknowledge writing environments as situated within the logic of both tools for correction and media for communication.

behavioral science composition studies computer-assisted instruction (CAI) Computer-Controlled computer-mediated communication (CMC) e-rater human-computer interaction (HCI) Information Television (TICCIT) Interactive Interactive Television (ITV) teaching writing time-shared 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Whithaus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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