Resources and Reflections

Monday, January 14, 2008

Do computers hinder learning?

If pedagogy does not serve technology, then technology hinders learning!

Not if these eight essential— and enduring—learning functions guide project planning.
1. Ubiquity
Although ubiquity is not a learning function per se, it is an overarching and desirable quality of tools that support project-based learning. Anytime- anywhere access to information, Web-based productivity tools, and multiple communications options are especially suited to project-based learning.
Examples: portable computing devices, mobile phones, wireless Internet, Web-based mail and instant messaging, portable productivity with Web 2.0 applications
2. Deep Learning
Go beyond “filtered” information where meaning is made by others and help students find and make sense of “raw” information on the Web. Higher-order thinking is engaged when students have to analyze primary sources and digitized artifacts. They take learning deeper when they are asked to navigate, sort, organize, analyze, and make graphical representations in order to learn and express learning. Learners can interpret and make visual displays of the data they mine or collect with Web-based tools such as spreadsheets, relational data-bases, and chart and graph creators.
Examples: digitized versions of primary sources such as the American Memories Project (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem), or rich databases of real-time data, such as Worldometers (http://www.worldometers.info), with tickers continually updating data about world population, carbon emissions, hunger, and more
3. Making Things Visible and Discussable
A picture is worth a thousand words, and making thoughts and ideas visible and sharable is the first step in getting the conversation going. Digital tools help students conceptualize with mind maps; see things that are too big or too small or too fast or too slow for the naked eye; examine history through digital artifacts; express ideas through photography and multimedia; and conceptualize with graphical representations, modeling, animation and digital art.
Examples: Google Earth and other Web-based mapping sites, Web cams, photo-sharing sites, visual manipulatives, and modeling software
4. Expressing Ourselves, Sharing Ideas,Building Community
As the World Wide Web evolves from an information medium into a social medium, opportunities for expression continue to grow. Students using MySpace and instant messaging are accustomed to these forms of personal interaction. Imagine thparallels in school and ways students can use the Web to express their ideas and build society around shared interests.
Examples: class Web sites, blogs, wikis, and virtual worlds such as Second Life; tagging Web content and sharing tags with others
5. Collaboration
Tools abound that help us learn and teach together. Use exchange services to find experts or fellow learners. Use shared Web applications to plan and write together. Plan virtual experiences that allow learners to “meet” across distances. Use survey tools to take the pulse of the community.
Examples: wikis, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, podcasts and webinars, voice-over Internet protocol services (e.g., Skype), survey tools
6. Research
Internet research puts information literacy to the test. Quality directories, search engines with filtering, a variety of bookmark tagging tools, and citation engines help students make sense of and organize what they need from the ever-expanding Web.
Examples: ASK for Kids (http://www.askforkids.com), social bookmarking (e.g., Del.icio.us, http://www.del.icio.us.com), Citation Machine (http://citationmachine.net)
7. Project Management
Projects require students to manage time, work, sources, feedback from others, drafts, and products. A simple folder on the district server or a workspace in the school’s learning management system may suffice, but consider Web-based homepages or desktops that give students a space to work and associated tools (calendars, to-do lists) to help them plan and organize. They can get to their homepage from anywhere at any time.
Examples: Netvibes (http://www.netvibes.com), Protopage (http://www.protopage.com), Google IG (http://www.google.com/ig)
8. Reflection and Iteration
Deep learning happens when you examine your ideas from all sides and from other points of view. Reconsidering and reshaping ideas to bring them to high polish is the difference between yeoman and masterful work. Tools that support reflection and iterative development give learners the opportunity to shape and revise their work, and expose it to the critical feedback of others.
Examples: blogs (http://www.blogger.com, http://www.livejournal.com, many other free blog services) and wikis (http://www.wikispaces.com)
This is an excerpt from Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss in their upcom-ing book Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, to be published by ISTE in November 2007. Source: http://sbetts.edublogs.org/2007/11/01/essential-learning-functions/

Do computers hinder learning?

Not if these five basic principles are adhered to: From learningnow:
Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.
Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen
Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.
Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
Learning can — and must — be networked.

Our efforts should not be to integrate technology into the classroom, but to define and facilitate a new platform on which the classroom operates. When the platform is confined by classroom walls, and learning experiences spring from static textbooks and labored-over white boards, and the learning is highly prescribed, then pedagogy is required.
However, if the platform is a node on the global network; with text, audio, and video links to other uncountable nodes on the network; and the connections are real time and clickable, and tools are available to work and employ the content that flows through those connections; then the learning happens because learners have experienced personal connections — and they want to maintain those connections by feeding back their own value.


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