How Does Technology Facilitate Learning? (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Learning With Technology

If schools are to foster meaningful learning, then the ways that we use technologies in schools must change from technology-as-teacher to technology-as-partner in the learning process. Before, we argued that students do not learn from technology but that technologies can support productive thinking and meaning making by students. That will happen when students learn with the technology. But how do students learn with technologies? How can technologies become intellectual partners with students? We assume the following:

  • Technology is more than hardware. Technology consists also of the designs and the environments that engage learners. Technology can also consist of any reliable technique or method for engaging learning, such as cognitive learning strategies and critical thinking skills.
  • Learning technologies can be any environment or definable set of activities that engage learners in active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative learning.
  • Technologies are not conveyors or communicators of meaning. Nor should they prescribe and control all of the learner interactions.
  • Technologies support meaningful learning when they fulfill a learning need—when interactions with technologies are learner initiated and learner controlled and when interactions with the technologies are conceptually and intellectually engaging.
  • Technologies should function as intellectual tool kits that enable learners to build more meaningful personal interpretations and representations of the world. These tool kits must support the intellectual functions that are required by a course of study.
  • Learners and technologies should be intellectual partners, where the cognitive responsibility for performance is distributed by the part of the partnership that performs it better.

How Technologies Foster Learning

If technologies are used to foster meaningful learning, then they will not be used as delivery vehicles. Rather, technologies should be used as engagers and facilitators of thinking. Based on our conception of meaningful learning, we suggest the following roles for technologies in supporting meaningful learning:

  • Technology as tools to support knowledge construction:
    • for representing learners’ ideas, understandings, and beliefs
    • for producing organized, multimedia knowledge bases by learners
  • Technology as information vehicle for exploring knowledge to support learning by constructing:
    • for accessing needed information
    • for comparing perspectives, beliefs, and worldviews
  • Technology as authentic context to support learning by doing:
    • for representing and simulating meaningful real-world problems, situations, and contexts
    • for representing beliefs, perspectives, arguments, and stories of others
    • for defining a safe, controllable problem space for student thinking
  • Technology as social medium to support learning by conversing:
    • for collaborating with others
    • for discussing, arguing, and building consensus among members of a community
    • for supporting discourse among knowledge-building communities
  • Technology as intellectual partner (Jonassen, 2000) to support learning by reflecting:
    • for helping learners to articulate and represent what they know
    • for reflecting on what they have learned and how they came to know it
    • for supporting learners’ internal negotiations and meaning making
    • for constructing personal representations of meaning
    • for supporting mindful thinking
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