Posted by: soniahs | November 18, 2010

Exam readings: computer-based learning

Today’s two readings weren’t exactly what I expected, being more focused on general ideas about how to use electronic technologies in the classroom than on concrete recommendations for augmenting learning electronically. That said, both articles are relatively dated (apparently, anything from the grunge era is now dated, and that includes journal articles), so I should have probably expected them to be less than up-to-date…

Roy D. Pea. “Augmenting the Discourse of Learning With Computer-Based Learning Environments.” in Erik De Corte, Marcia C. Linn, Heinz Mandl, and Lieven Verschaffel (eds.) Computer-Based Learning Environments and Problem Solving, pp 313-343. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1992.

Summary: Pea’s focus in this paper is on using electronic technologies to augment “learning conversations” that help students become participants in communities of practice. Basically, he is interested in the social aspects of cognition. In the communities of practice view, learning is integral to becoming a member of a community and maintaining membership; participation in the community, rather than information transfer, is what facilitates learning. Conversation is a key part of this process; learning conversations involve creation of communication and interpretation of meanings- constructing common ground among participants. In science, students need to be able to “talk science,” rather than just listening to lectures and reading textbooks. Learning language and other symbols (e.g., diagrams) and being able to “converse” with them is a large part of enculturation; this involved discussion of how different representations relate to one another and to the physical world. Enculturation/increasing participation occurs via appropriation and interpretation of language and symbols. Computer tools for learning can’t teach discourse directly, but can provide tools for developing skill in working with representations, as well as augmenting learning conversations. Discusses a case study of developing a system for creating interactive optics diagrams. One key suggestion is that such tools should create affordances that facilitate: production of visualizations, allow interpretation, and create “sense-making” (causal) narratives.

Comments: Background might be useful, but majority of paper is centered on classroom applications, and not as many concrete recommendations for design of such environments as I’d thought there would be (one case study).

Links to: Lave & Wenger (comm. of practice); Roth & McGinn (also focus on science learning via representations); Scardimalia & Bereiter (using computers more for communication in education)

Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter. “Computer Support for Knowledge-Building Communities.” Journal of the Learning Sciences 3(3): 265-283,1994.

Summary: The authors want to restructure schools as collective knowledge-building communities (KBCs). In these computer-supported intentional learning environments (CSILEs), patterns of discourse would mimic those of KBCs in the real world. Their ideas come from metacognitive learning, expertise-building via progressive problem-solving, and KBCs (here, schools would provide social support and a collective knowledge pool). They discuss ways schools inhibit this type of learning (e.g., individual focus, formal/demonstrable knowledge, lack of support for progressive problem-solving). The idea is to reframe general discourse around collaborative processes of research facilities (e.g., journal articles represent advances in knowledge, peer review is a way to validate this). While educational technology generally supports individualized learning & drill/test, they propose a different focus. CSILEs would include: a central database in which students would post “new knowledge,” features that let students comment on/build on contributions of others (structures communication around problems and building knowledge of the group, explicit discussions of metacognition, small-group discussions, and tools to support different media and students who contribute different dimensions of knowledge. General idea is that information access alone is not sufficient; you need both computer tools to explicitly build these communities and teacher strategies for promoting participation.

Comments: Less helpful for concrete ideas than I’d assumed-perhaps because dated? Focus is on schools, rather than informal learning. Might be able to extrapolate from these ideas, but not sure how this concept would translate to an informal setting.

Links to: Lave & Wenger?

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