Technology in the Social Studies Classroom

Technology in the Social Studies Classroom

V. Robert Agostino
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-109-4.ch005
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Claude Shannon died in my hometown, Medford, Massachusetts, in February, 2001. Age 84, he apparently had Alzheimer’s disease. It is a great irony that the man most responsible for digital memory and information transmission ended his life not being able to remember. I am not sure why Claude Shannon was in my hometown at the end of his life; perhaps his long connection to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made him buy a house there, or maybe it was the Alzheimer’s care facility. When he died, his obituary was carried by a number of national newspapers and several Web sites. These obituaries all mentioned the same facts. Shannon was a genius, receiving dual bachelor degrees in 1936 in electrical engineering and mathematics from the University of Michigan. He also received a master’s degree in electrical engineering and a PhD in mathematics in 1940 from MIT. His master’s degree thesis, “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits,” is regarded as the most important thesis ever written about the topic of information. Combined with his 1948 paper, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” Shannon revolutionized the way engineers thought about hardware, and how technologists today are reconceptualizing learning theory, software design, and electronic communications. It is that evolution of technological thought that has impacted social studies so directly.

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