Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Relationship Between Learning Theories and ICT

The advances of technologies nowadays have changed the learning environments for teaching and learning and the way teacher teaches and student learns. The new paradigm of learning is described in term of the progress from old-ICTs to new ICTs in three stages of traditional e-learning, blended e-learning and contemporary virtual e-learning. The technological advancements in e-learning are linked with the theories of learning like behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. The e-Learning is going through a paradigm shift wherein teachers and students have departed from passive mode to open independent learning environment.
Behaviorism is learning theory where learners learn through stimuli and response where teacher as the expert and learners as the passive reciepient. Learning occurs through the “instructor presenting the learner with the required stimuli along with the required behavioral responses within an effective reinforcement regime. The degree of learning is assessed through observable measures such as tests, assignments and examinations”. The development was based on the behaviouristic theory of learning suggesting that learning goals must be divided into smaller pieces, i.e. smaller tasks that students accomplish. Accomplishing these smaller tasks will eventually lead to achieving the original learning goal. ICT provides students with a Computer-Assisted Instruction that gives instant feedback and control over separate tasks. Typically, software has been so  called   drill-and-practice   software.  Computer-Assisted Instruction is the example of the model of computer called computer as tutee.
The cognitive view of learning, like the behaviourist view, sees knowledge as given and absolute. Many of the information processing models of teaching and learning are   based   on   the   cognitive   view   of   learning. The cognitive gives priority to the cognitive powers of an individual. For example, the ‘learning-style’ of every learner indicates his/her cognitive trends. The design of computer-based learning environments has undergone a paradigm shift, moving students away from instruction that was considered to promote technical rationality grounded in objectivism, to the application of computers to create cognitive tools utilized in constructivist environments (Young, 2003). In cognitivism, ICT provides computer as tutor  referring   to   development   based   on theories     of  artificial  intelligence    (AI)  and    theories   of  information      processing.    The assumption was   that   it   is   possible to design software that emulates   the   thinking   and problem solving of domain experts. The idea was that these “intelligent” technologies can   also   work   as   skilled   teachers   or   tutors,   providing   every   student    with   personal tutors   that   follow   the   progress   of   learning   and   provide   feedback   and   support   when needed.      

The constructivist theories of learning dominate today and propagate that learning is achieved by the active construction of knowledge supported by various perspectives within meaningful contexts and social interactions (Oliver, 2002). These environments create engaging and content-relevant experiences by utilizing ICTs and resources to support unique learning goals and knowledge construction. The constructivists believe that there is no single version of reality, rather a multitude of realities situated within each learner. As such, learning is dependent upon the “learner’s ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information to create meaningful, personalized knowledge.
The strengths of constructivism lie in its emphasis on learning as a process of personal understanding and the development of meaning where learning is viewed as the construction of meaning rather than as the memorization of facts. Learning approaches using contemporary ICTs provide many opportunities for constructivist learning through their student centered environments based on their context. Given, that knowledge is constantly advancing; the design and development principles need to be aligned with teacher and students emerging requirements. The current trend in e-Learning is to provide cognitive tools, which can be adapted for intellectual partnerships among teachers and students and facilitate critical thinking and higher-order learning
 In contrast to traditional classrooms where teachers used a linear model and one-way communication, the modern learning is becoming more personalized, student-centric, non-linear and learner-directed .
     The development of ICT in education based on the constructivism has been described as “Computer   Supported   Collaborative   Learning   (CSCL)   Paradigm. CSCL   paradigm   places   the   mind   within   socio-cultural environment.   In  addition  to  changes   in  theories   of   learning,   also  the   development   of technologies   provided   new possibilities   for collaborative   learning   with ICT.   Probably the   best   known   example   of   new   technologies   for   supporting   students’   collaborative learning   and   knowledge   building   was   the   Computer   Supported   Intentional   Learning Environment        (CSILE)    which     provided     tools  for  supporting      students’    collaborative knowledge   building.   Later,   especially   with   the   development   of   the   Internet,   several different   online   environments   (Moodle,   FLE,   Blackboard,   Verkkosalkku)   that   can   be used  for  supporting  collaborative  learning  have  emerged.  The  aim  of  ICT  was  to support      students’     collaborative      work,    sharing     and    explicating     ideas    and    unique knowledge         structures,    to   provide     a  means      for  communication         and    inquiry     and collaborative creations of knowledge.


The journey from behaviorism to constructivism also characterizes the change in the way students acquire knowledge and skills. Objectivism transmits knowledge from teacher to student; cognitive constructivism gives negotiated knowledge, while social constructivism provides an environment where learners harvest knowledge through self-controlled learning. E-Learning encompasses a continuum of integrated educational technologies.

Transmitted  knowledge  (traditional/objectivist)

Traditional e-Learning programs are “didactic in approach - a form of transmitted knowledge with passive acceptance of well-cooked teacher’s knowledge. Transmission refers to one-way communication, teacher as the communicator and students as the passive reciepient such as, radio-transmission. Radio-listeners are on the receiving-end with the broadcaster in full control of whatever is transmitted.

Negotiated knowledge (blended learning– objectivist + cognitivism)

The research tells us that by the 1990s e-Learning began to be supplemented by new media, particularly e-Mail and discussion groups/forums. For example, the existing e-Learning models of course ware were accompanied by a discussion forum where participants could read and post messages to involve in mutual support and debate – a kind of “negotiated knowledge (Gray et al., 2003).”

Harvested  knowledge  (constructivism)

Soon after 1990s, Lemke (1993) predicted that “very soon all the libraries of the world will be one virtual library, all the databases on every subject will be available through a common interface and they will contain not just numbers and texts, but every visual and auditory form of information.” The contemporary e-Learning environments are loaded with very powerful digital models and devices particularly, the internet, which has revolutionized the way people, used to interact, exchange messages, teach and learn. The web is increasingly equipped with millions of web-pages, site-archives, portals, databases and much more for ascertaining a kind of “harvested-knowledge” where learners can learn by themselves by constructing or harvesting knowledge (Gray et al., 2003). At the moment, e-Learning is facilitated by web technologies and delivered through end-user computing, which creates interconnectivity between teachers, students and information thereby creating opportunities for social learning approaches (HvoreckĂ˝ et al., 2005).

In recent years, it has been recognized that e-Learning is not merely another medium for the transmission of knowledge but that it changes the relationship between the teacher or trainer and learner. It requires new skills, competencies and attitudes amongst those planners, managers, teachers and trainers who are going to design and develop materials and support learners online (Gray et al., 2003). Social software tools like blogs, wikis,social-bookmarking etc offer fields of knowledge to harvest according to the requirements of the users (teachers and learners) (Dalsgaard, 2006; Klamma et al., 2007). Because of the internet, learners have access to virtually unlimited information. Web-based learning is worldwide accessible, low in maintenance, secure, platform-independent, current and accommodates various learning styles because now e-Learning can be delivered to the learners easily, in an individualized manner (Manochehr, 2007).

My opinion:

Learning is bringing the shifts from linear to hypermedia learning, from instruction to construction and discovery, from teacher-centered to learner-centered education, from absorbing material to learning how to navigate and how to learn, from school to life long learning (LLL), from one-size-fits-all to customized learning, from learning as torture to learning as fun and from the teacher as transmitter to the teacher as facilitator. The implementation of current pedagogies is students will be more active and the role of the teacher will become that of a facilitator rather than a transmitter of information .The transition from objectivism to constructivism happens from transmitted to harvested knowledge, traditional e-Learning to virtual learning and old technologies to new gadgets. The transitions happen in the e-Learning applications is passing through three broader phases:

1.    Traditional e-Learning (behaviorism): Using old technologies (that is, email) to acquire transmitted knowledge through objectivist and behaviorist modes of pedagogy and learning with one-way communication from teacher to student.

2.    Blended e-Learning (cognitivism): Most of the institutions particularly in developing countries are passing through the mid-phase of blended e-Learning with a mix of both the old and new technologies (that is, chatting and discussion forums/groups). Both one-way and two-way communication becomes prevalent.

3. Virtual   learning (constructivism):   When  there  is  high level of collaboration between all the learners. There is group learning but in a highly individualized teaching and learning environments. Through personalization and integration technologies, every individual user can customize the technologies with one-to-many and many-to-many communication links, which are active and alive


Surendra Batala said...

Good Ideas about philossophy in ICT

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