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Monday, October 11, 2004

Assignment 13: Reading: Technology to Support Learning

Part III: Teachers and Teaching, Chapter 9: Technology to Support Learning

This chapter provides a brief overview of the use of technology in the classroom from the 1960s. From these usage studies and experiments, much has been learned about how learning is affected by technology. "New" technology can provide opportunities of expanding "old" technology (e.g., traditional blackboards, books, etc.) .

One of the advantages of "new" technology is that it provides more interactive opportunities. The authors point out that new technologies can be used in 5 ways:

  1. bringing exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom;
  2. providing scaffolds and tools to enhance learning;
  3. giving students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and revision;
  4. building local and global communities that include teachers, administrators, students, parents, practicing scientists, and other interested people;
  5. and expanding opportunities for teacher learning.

The authors extensively discuss the use of "real life contexts" to teach through providing realistic situations, problems, and opportunities to interact with professionals, which all sounds like anchored learning to me.

A couple of programs mentioned are Project GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), whereas students collect environmental data for studies, Learning Through Collaborative Visualization (CoVis) Project, which allows students to work remotely yet collaboratively.

Exploring tools and scaffolding used with learning technology, examples cited include the Belvedere system which attempts to teach students with limited knowledge of relevant subjects, public policy issues. Other examples include STELLA modelling (systems dynamics) and GenScope Project (genetic simulations).

Moving on to analysis, feedback and reflection within interactive media, the authors cite examples of tools (e.g., Classtalk, an interactive tool which allows the instructor to present problems for the students to work on within a large lecture situation). These tools allow studies to give (and get) immediate feedback via submitting answers as well as collaborative peer projects (e.g., CLISE, aka Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments).

Although this chapter presents many examples of uses of technology, for the most part, it skips the issue of effectiveness. Other than a brief mention that the use of technology does not guarantee success in learning, the subject is overlooked. It would seem that even in a very superficial overview of uses of technology, effectiveness should have a more prominent role.

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