Across the Disciplines and Up and Down the Levels
Dan entered the Study Center at 7:05 PM, pulled up a chair, and sat down at one of the round tables with five embedded workstations. He logged in and pulled up the copy of the C++ program that he was working on for his Computer Science Programming class. He fixed one of the subroutines and ran it using a graphical debugging aid to see if it worked.
Beatrice needed to run some statistics on the data that she and her lab partner had collected in her organic chemistry lab. She came into the Study Center at 7:10 PM and sat down across the table from Dan. She logged in, used a network program to fetch her data from the server, and started up a statistics package. The program displayed colorful scatterplots and allowed her to manipulate the data so that she could see the relationship that she was looking for.
Jennifer wanted to run through an exercise in her introductory physics course. She sat down next to Beatrice at 7:20, logged in, and clicked on the Phys101 icon. After the screen filled with lists of exercises, readings, assignments, etc., she selected the exercise on vector forces. This time the screen filled with a set of instructions, problems, and a vector toolkit. She read the instructions and started on the first problem. Using the vector toolkit she built a set of forces on a point and then used the pop-up vector calculator to calculate the resultant overall force.
Robert came in at 7:25 PM, sat down at the table next to Dan and logged in. Robert was working on a short story for his ENGL 310 creative writing course. He was using a story writing program in which he outlined the plot, described the characters, and gave the setting. It created templates for the parts and analyzed the writing style and story development as he went along.
Ted entered the Study Center at 7:30 PM to study for his exam in art history. He sat down at the table next to Beatrice. After he logged in, he double clicked on the art icon in the courseware desktop. He chose between three methods of studying: linear study, random quiz, and self-generated. He selected linear study first because he wanted to make sure that the first time through he had studied all of the works of art. The screen filled with the image of Ruben's "Daniel in the Lion's Den."
When we first started talking about the use of computers in the classroom, both students and faculty thought that the computers would be used to teach about computers or about computer programs used in particular subjects such as math and statistics. We would teach students how to use the operating system, how to write computer programs, how to use spread sheets, etc. Computers were computers until recently. Now with multimedia and networks they are seen as workstations and windows into an electronic media. Today the value and application of computers in education is becoming universal and is cutting across all subjects and all grades as indicated in the scenario above. In this chapter we will sample some of these disciplines and grade levels in order to understand the different needs and to know what tools are required in different situations. Two perspectives will be used to guide our thought. The first pertains to the content of learning as function of the discipline and the second has to do with the content of learning as a function of grade level. Needless to say, the two functions interact as well.
The Content of Learning
There are many theories and perspectives in education about what students learn at different grades and in different subjects. In this discussion we follow a line of reasoning that comes out of cognitive psychology about content of knowledge. The knowledge required to be competent in some area can be categorized into the following sets:
Factual knowledge is basic knowledge about the names of things, events, categories, and equations in some domain. It is declarative knowledge in the sense that it is composed of the basic statements about the subject. In physics we would include the laws of physics and basic equations such as force = mass x acceleration; in history we would include names and dates; and in psychology concepts such as self, perception, and learning.
Semantic knowledge is knowledge about the concepts and relationships that give sense and meaning to the facts. Semantic knowledge allows one to comprehend what is going on. It adds sense to facts and order to the information. In physics semantic knowledge allows the student to focus on the concepts relevant to a problem such as force and friction and ignore the surface features such as color.
Schematic knowledge is a knowledge of common types of problems or situations. It is an ability to categorize knowledge structures. In math problems might be classified into schemas such as ratio, interest, area, progressions, etc. In literature it adds plots and writing style and in biology cycles and systems.
Strategic knowledge consists of strategies for generating and monitoring plans in a specific domain. Strategic knowledge has to do with the procedures for implementing actions given other knowledge. This knowledge is both practical and experiential as well as theoretical. If may involve the knowledge to work backwards rather than forwards or to think holistically rather than in a piecemeal fashion. This is the kind of knowledge one gains in laboratory courses, workshops, and hand-on experiences.
These types of knowledge build progressively. One cannot develop schemas without factual and semantic knowledge. Nor can one apply strategies without the tools for carrying them out. Factual knowledge is hard to remember without semantic and schematic knowledge giving it sense and structure. Drill and test may be an effective method for learning factual knowledge, but long term retention is enhanced with methods that promote a deeper processing of factual knowledge. Schematic and strategic knowledge can be too vague and too abstract without specific instances and cases that come from factual and semantic sources. Educational environments need to provide the right mix of these types of knowledge and activities to support learning in each category.
Across the Disciplines
How do different disciplines key into the categories of knowledge outlined in the previous section and how can they make use of multimedia and interactivity to convey this knowledge effectively to the students? In the following sections we will touch on some of these issues. The sections are divided into (a) the physical sciences and mathematics emphasizing facts but striving for conceptual understanding and application, (b) the social and life sciences that are heavy on semantics and application but working toward empirical grounding, and (c) the arts and humanities that focus on details but seek to develop critical and analytical skills. Needless to say, there will be much overlap between these categories suggesting that in the new electronic educational environment the lines of demarcation may be even less apparent owing to new lines of communication and conceptual linking of ideas across the disciplines.
The Physical Sciences and Mathematics
The physical sciences find themselves filled with vast amounts of factual knowledge as well as beautiful models of objects, structural relations, and systems embodying the bulk of their semantic knowledge. These models lend themselves to graphic representations in hypermedia as either still images, animations, or simulations, in respective order of complexity and desirability. It has long been known that when abstract concepts and relationships are rendered in a concrete form, they are more easily comprehended and learnable. Physical models are compelling devices for teachers. Drawings of triangles, vectors, and other shapes help to tie the numbers, variables, and equations to meaningful concepts. To the extent that the switched-on classroom can facilitate and enhance these graphics and relationships, it will move beyond the traditional classroom with only blackboards for graphics and small scale models of levers, inclined planes, and little spheres on wires representing the solar system. It must not, however, be forgotten that these simple models are very effective because they are physical, 3-dimensional, and tactile.
The real advantage of graphic models and simulations in the electronic classroom it that they are not bound by physical constraints of size (from immense to minuscule), time (from nanosecond to millennium), or energy level (from milliwatt to jigawatt). One does not have to worry about catastrophic events even though there may be several hundred students present. They will not be blown up in a simulation of a nuclear meltdown. Nor do the students have to wait for extremely rare events to occur. Simulations can recreate the most unusual conditions and by increasing the number of occurrences chance upon the infrequent. Such distortions of space, time, and power are necessary for simulations but unfortunately create unrealistic experiences, a lessening of the appreciation for the unusual, and a lack of patience for controlled scientific and naturalistic observation. A more serious problem concerns ethical violations permissible within the virtual limits of a simulation. One can simulate war, tyranny, and atrocity or experiment with physical mutilation, generic re-engineering, and immorality without fear of consequence. Such activities are bad enough within the confines of fantasy; but as the boundary between reality and simulation becomes less and less distinct, education and society will have to deal with the consequences.
While many different simulations have been programmed, there is a great need to improve the user interface for these simulations. In particular, advances are needed in the area of the control of input parameters and conditions as well as in the visualization of effects. Virtual reality interfaces are promising; but again user controls are especially important. Recent and continuing developments in the computer game industry may prove useful.
Table 13.1 gives a list of some of the many resources for programs, hypermedia materials, and on-line WWW demonstrations in the physical sciences and mathematics. This list is not meant to be either exhaustive or representative, but merely illustrative of the vast range of materials available.
A List of Pointers to Electronic Materials in the Physical Sciences and
(All links were originally active as of 1/9/2002. Those that no longer current as of 12/29/2009 are still listed, but are no longer active. Some additional links have been added.)
|General Resource Lists:|
|SciEd: Science and Mathematics Education Resources, University of Washington|
|Cornell Theory Center Math and Science Gateway, Cornell University|
|Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education, The
Ohio State University |
|Chemistry Teaching Resources, Umeå University|
|Internet Resources for Geographers, University of Texas|
|Astronomy Teaching & Education Resources, The North Carolina School of
Science and Mathematics|
|Math Education Resources, Florida State University|
|Math Forum Internet Resource Collection, Swarthmore College|
|Collections of Materials and Demonstrations:|
|Interactive Physics, University of Illinois (Requires Interactive Physics 2.5
from Prentice Hall)|
|Computer Tutorials in Physics, The Physics Education Research Group, University
|High-Energy Experiments Online, Standford University|
|Gallery of Interactive Geometry, Center for the Computation and Visualization
Geometric Structures, University of Minnesota
|The Physics Lecture Demonstrations' Collection, University of California,
|Frank Potter's Science Gems, University of California, Irvine|
|Science Teachers Lounge|
Wonderful examples of graphics, tutorials, and simulations are constantly emerging in the physical sciences and mathematics. The central question for the electronic classroom is whether the materials and activities are or can be tied together into a meaningful, seamless, integrated whole that will support both schematic knowledge needed for identifying the proper problem domain and strategic knowledge required for application. Hypermedia has the potential of supporting this environment, but its implementation has yet to be realized. As noted in Chapter 3, most applications are still at a piecemeal level focusing only on one topic and one activity.
When a student moves from lesson to lesson in algebra, the instructor expects the student to carry forward the previously learned concepts so that they can be relied upon in new lessons. When some concept is not understood the student must go back and relearn it. In textbooks, this may require accessing the table of contents, the index, or author notes to previous material. However, tutorial and programmed learning units have emphasized the incremental process of learning factual knowledge. The incremental nature of semantic, schematic, and strategic knowledge however, has yet to be captured in hypermedia materials. Even when it is a part of the materials, it is of limited scope, extending only to the range of materials in that package and not to a full scope of knowledge in the sciences. Figure 13.1 shows a schematic diagram of some of the links needed to help bring simulations into a HyperCourseware environment by tying them to course materials such as explanatory text and exercises, interactive tools for discussion, and finally to course products such as reports and exams.
Figure 13.1. HyperCourseware shell for integrating simulations into the electronic educational environment.
We generally hold that all scientific knowledge is connected into a meaningful network. Reductionism is one such network in which the behavior of large systems can be explained by the behavior of smaller parts that make up the system. For example, the chemical behavior of a compound can be explained by the properties of the elements that make it up and certain laws of physics. This being the case, one can conceive of a hypermedia learning environment that connects all scientific knowledge in a network. Thus, if one is learning about the nitrogen cycle in nature, one could jump into ammonification and from there to bacteria or amino acids, and so on to reach any subject under the sun and any simulation of it. The limited scope and isolation of the thousands of packages in the market today retards this sort of exploration. However, as will be seen in Chapter 15, the World Wide Web may help to solve this problem to the extent that the developers of each set of materials are willing to link their sites to others.
The Social & Life Sciences
The behavioral and social sciences abound with text, descriptions, illustrations, cases, and application. Everything is amenable to the electronic environment. Text, references, and data are much more accessible and searchable in electronic form. Much that was said about educational materials for the physical sciences can be said for the social and life sciences. But what is truly enhanced in the social and life sciences is the access to and interaction with the subject of study, namely, individuals, groups, communities, and civilizations. In the social sciences the student finds him or herself to be a part of the object of study.
Simulations in the physical sciences and in mathematics are viewed from without or as a bird's eye view from above of models of planetary systems, molecules, or machines. Alternatively they may be viewed as fly throughs in three dimensional space, but almost without exception the student is an external observer of the simulation. The fascinating aspect of simulations in the social and life sciences is that the student can be a part of the simulation. In this mode there is an inherent boost in student interest due to a sense of personal involvement. Depending upon the instructional objective, many simulations can be projected as either "outside/in" simulations looking in from the outside vantage point or "inside/out" simulations being an actor within the system looking out at the rest of the world.
The electronic environment of the switched-on classroom not only allows for the exploration of existing material and simulations, but also for the generation of new data. For a number of years, gaming programs have been used in economics, business and management political science, and psychology to give students experience interacting with others in the context of a simulation. Games exist for competition in business and investment, for economic bargaining, for negotiation, and social interaction. Over the period of the course students can participate in these interactions and view their own performance as well as the overall state of the system. As with self contained simulations, links need to be built between the gaming environment and the rest of the materials, assignments, and readings. The HyperCourseware shell shown in Figure 13.1 for simulations can be adapted for games.
Table 13.2 gives a list for the social and life science of some of the resources for hypermedia materials and demonstrations on the WWW. Again this list is not meant to be either exhaustive or representative, but merely illustrative of the vast range of materials available.
A List of Pointers to Electronic Materials in the Social and Life Sciences (All links were originally active as of 1/9/2002. Those that no longer current as of 12/29/2009 are still listed, but are no longer active. Some additional links have been added.)
|General Resource Lists:|
|Cognitive and Psychological Sciences on the Internet
|Psych Web: Georgia Southern University
|Western Connecticut State University Department of Social Sciences
|Complete List of Allyn & Bacon Sociology Links Pages
|Sociological Institute University of Amsterdam
|Collections of Materials and Demonstrations:|
|The Integrator: Art and Wendy Kohn, CD-ROM published by Brooks/Cole
|The Virtual Psychology Laboratory project
|University of Western Autralia Psychology Software Archive
The ever increasing body of knowledge in the social and life sciences is both an asset and a liability. With more and more materials coming on-line and accessible in the educational context, we have a richness and extensiveness of knowledge never before available. These materials can be linked in new ways, associated from one context to another, and clustered into unique interdisciplinary topics. For example, a course on homelessness could be generated by collecting information from sources in psychology, sociology, urban studies, and economics.
There is also a problem with exponential growth in educational materials and knowledge in general. The problem is finding, filtering, and filing. Search and retrieval for electronic information is an increasing challenge as the database becomes excessively large. Even when relevant material is found, it may not be reliable or of acceptable quality. One needs to filter out the unacceptable material. Finally, once a collection of materials has been identified, it needs to be meaningfully organized and filed. These functions often go beyond the abilities and/or time constraints of the faculty and may well become the new service. Publishing houses may find a new market opportunity for cataloguing, indexing, and formatting materials in the electronic environment in a way analogous to what they have done in the print media.
Arts and Humanities
Educational materials in the arts and humanities lean to an abundance of text and graphics. What makes them quite different from the sciences, however, is that these materials are not just in support of learning something, but they are the object of study and the product of creation. The wealth of materials are the repository of literary works, theater, dance, music, and the visual arts. With mounting speed old materials are being converted to digital form and new artists are working in the electronic medium itself. Digital libraries bring these works into the educational electronic environment.
Environments like HyperCourseware can be used to organize and present these works in both a lecture format and a self study mode, but more importantly they can be linked to other materials and tools. Existing works can be inter-linked to move from image to image or to other media. They can be linked to exiting critiques, descriptions, and ancillary information such as biographies and historical passages. More importantly they can be linked to assignments and to collaborative exercises. For example, a painting can be displayed to all of the students; and they can enter into a chat session about it; or they could rate it on various dimensions. Furthermore, software tools could be used to analyze a work on-line; for example, to assess the reading level of text, the values or patterns of a graphic, or the complexity of a piece of music.
Composition is essential in the arts and humanities. One creates, analyzes, and recreates in a never ending urge to achieve something better. The electronic environment adds both tools and analysis to creative process. It increases the range of possibilities and decreases the effort of making them happen. Software for composition can be linked into the HyperCourseware shell to move from the assignment of the composition, to the tools for creation, to the submission of the work, to its grading, and finally back for feedback to the student.
Table 13.3 gives a list of the resources in the arts and humanities. Again this list is not meant to be either exhaustive or representative, but merely illustrative of the vast range of materials available.
A List of Pointers to Electronic Materials in the Arts and Humanities (All links were originally active as of 1/9/2002. Those that no longer current as of 12/29/2009 are still listed, but are no longer active. Some additional links have been added.)
|General Resource Lists:|
|Directory of Historical Resources: History Database|
Index of Resources for Historians: Department of History of the
University of Kansas and the Lehrstuhl für Ältere deutsche
Literaturwissenschaft der Universität Regensburg|
|History Research: Middle Tennessee State University|
|Collections of Materials and Demonstrations:|
|Perseus Project: Tufts University Classics Department|
|Caprina Project: University of Maryland|
|ArtServe: The Australian National University|
|The English Server: Carnegie Mellon University|
|Literature Resources: MIT Humanities Library Online|
Finally, in the arts and humanities there is a transcendent appreciation for all knowledge, from the physical substrate upon which life exists to manifest wisdom of the ages. There is a perception of the interrelatedness of all things and of the cognate origin of all knowledge and human endeavor that is often missed in the trenches of the laboratory and the ultra-specialization and compartmentalization of science. It is consequently hoped that the one thing that the new electronic environment will create across the disciplines will be a renewed sense of community and interdisciplinary collaboration. In the early history of universities, there was a greater sense of the universality of nature and knowledge, the common threads, and cognate aspects of theory and application. Specialization and compartmentalization has had its negative side in recent history on college campuses. But as hyperlinks leap across the educational landscape littered with fences and boundaries, new allegiances are being formed by scholars who see relationships and analogies previously hidden.
Up and Down the Levels
Many things change in education as one moves up the ladder: the depth and complexity of the material, the abilities of the student, the autonomy and motivation of the learner, the emphasis on discovery and exploration, and the importance of learning criteria. The students change, the materials change, and the learning environments change. When designing electronic classrooms, electronic materials, and the entire educational space, one needs to take into consideration the critical need for adapting to constant changes both of the individual and the group. We also need to remember that some things don't change. All levels need to engage the interest of the student; take into account different learning styles and individual differences; and they all need to provide a comprehensive, seamless, integrated, reliable, quality interface with the materials and activities. It is here that the concept of HyperCourseware as an educational environment becomes extremely important and compelling.
In this section we will start with kindergarten and work our way up. Again the type of knowledge to be learned will be crucial in helping to define the environment. However, it is not necessarily the case that student should follow a lock step progression from factual knowledge on the strategic knowledge. Instead it seems more appropriate that a repeating loop should be used to constantly move among the acquisition of different types of knowledge, from facts to strategies and back. But rather than moving from one software package to another, the electronic educational environment should maintain a consistent interface from K-12 and beyond, growing in functionality, autonomy, and complexity. For example, a lesson on magnification may be on a simple magnifying glass in the early grades and progress to a microscope in middle and high school and to an electronic microscope in college. The interface and controls should be consistent from one level to another yet grow in number and sophistication.
Preschool and Kindergarten
When we think of computers and software for preschool and kindergarten we automatically think of simple interactive toys. If you touch on the animal, it makes the animal sound. If you hear the word "red" and touch the red pad, you are rewarded. Simple feedback, simple matching tasks, and simple association learning are elements of factual knowledge acquisition. They are important but must be complemented with richer exploration and with creative construction and building activities.
Electronic educational environments for preschool and kindergarten need a variety of modes to match play and learning in naturalistic environments. Current educational software however, rarely balances these activities but rather over emphasizes one to the exclusion of another. Furthermore, they are rarely linked together so that products of factual learning can be used in exploration and construction tasks. As discussed in Chapter 2, these programs continue to be bits and pieces without an integration into a whole curriculum. Finally, educational software for preschool and kindergarten has never envisioned an environment in which the child grows, accumulates connected knowledge, and creates and adds to that environment. In contrast educators have for many years attempted to develop comprehensive learning objectives and programs to fulfill these objectives in the classroom. This philosophy and expertise, however, has not yet been carried into the electronic environment However, it should be clear by now that the computer abilities of the new electronic educational environment are fully capable of hosting all of these objectives and in a more consistent and comprehensive way than can be maintained in the print based classroom. Thus, even in early learning, the educational environment should be tied to a knowledge base of the material and to a record keeping system to ensure that the learning objectives are met.
It should also be mentioned that in preschool and kindergarten, there is no reason for a computer interface to look like a computer. Keyboards are not a natural interface for children until they have learned the basics of the alphabet. The mouse is much better, but the touch screen and other direct manipulation input devises are probably the best. The challenge is to develop an interface specifically for early learning rather than retro-fitting interfaces for adult learners. Moreover, that interface needs to develop on a trajectory that will quickly intersect what may be a more standard interface used in the elementary grades. However, in early learning it is likely that interfaces will be multiple devices ( such as interactive dolls, picture boards, and toys) and group workstations for the teacher rather than single multimedia workstation performing all functions for each student.
The Elementary Grades
In the elementary grades, students should each have their own workstation. Ideally, this would be a laptop computer that could be used in the classroom, at home, or anywhere, either on the network or off. These workstations would be the student's primary learning environment and would be their learning notebook for several years until a more powerful computer might be needed.
HyperCourseware as described in Parts II and III would grow with the students and with the material. However, rather than initially being organized around the home screen shown in Figure 6.1, it would immediately go to the scheduled exercises and activities for the day. Only later after the student can read and plan their own activities, would the class schedules and objectives come to the surface for the student to see. Instead they may see something like a game board showing their progress chart as a player on the board as in Figure 13.2.
Figure 13.2. HyperCrouseware screen for progress mapping and scheduling of learning activities in the elementary grades.
As the foundation in the basics of reading, writing, and math is laid, the environment should support more constructive and exploratory activities that exercise the basic skills. Moreover, collaborative work with others can be introduced at this point to promote teamwork and social interaction. HyperCourseware can be used for supporting the basic instruction and as the launchpad for collaborative projects when learning criteria have been met.
By middle school and high school, students are more involved in the curriculum and in scheduling their own learning activities. At this point, the home screen should look more like a weekly planner with lists of subjects and assignments. During a class period, the system should automatically go to the appropriate subject, presented as a home screen for that period; but during out of class periods the students should be able to select subjects to work on when and where they want to at their own pace. Figure 13.2 shows a possible screen configuration.
Figure 13.3. HyperCourseware screen for course selection and study planning for high school.
During K-12, tracking and monitoring of learning activities seems appropriate. The tutors and instructors can monitor the progress of individuals as well as groups. Issues about surveillance over student's activities are not as much of an issue as they are for college and adult classes. Careful monitoring of learning styles and skills may be very useful in the high school years to redirect students to remedial help in studying and note taking before going to college as well as helping to further develop average to gifted students. For all students, monitoring will allow the teacher to know when and to whom to suggest new sources of information or to challenge the student with new ideas. Monitoring may also help to provide a closer rapport between the teacher and the student. The student may feel a greater sense of caring on the part of the teacher who is taking time to go over individual behavior in the course of learning rather than merely giving a grade at the end of the year.
High school is also a time of new social interactions and exploration of interests. In the same way that extracurricular and social activities supplement the learning experience in high school, the electronic educational environment will provide new channels of activity and communication. The chess club, the drama club, Bible club, etc. may all be on-line with materials, newsletters, and tools for interaction. These of course would not and should not replace face-to-face interactions, but would supplement and enhance communications.
Colleges and Universities
Once a student enters a college or a university, they should be fully prepared for the total electronic educational environment, from electronic admissions, registration, and scheduling of courses to digital libraries, electronic classrooms, and hypermedia course materials. Furthermore, they should be familiar with a number of tools for learning and all of the capabilities of the electronic environment described in Chapter 3. In the fast approaching high-tech world, students will have both home computers and notebook computers that they would carry with them to class. The notebook computers will link up with the campus system over either IR or RF wireless networks or off-campus via cellular or direct satellite link. Other futuristic scenarios include ubiquitous computers the bring your personal environment to you no matter where you are or universal notebooks that are always connected to a world wide satellite network.
As in high school the students should have control over their learning activities and schedules with the help of planning and personal productivity tools. At the college level additional planning will be required in selecting courses, majors, and programs. Furthermore, a the college level, students will be adding their own tools and components to design their own personal learning environments. Much in the same way that college students outfit and arrange their own desks, study areas, and bookshelves, students will set up their computer workstations, programs, and file storage to facilitate their own work.
In K-12 most of the electronic curriculum materials will be developed and written by instructional designers; hosted and maintained by publishing houses; and selected by school boards and administrators. Teachers will for the most part fill the same roles in the new electronic educational environment as they do now as facilitators of printed curriculum materials. The same may be true at the junior and community college level. However, at the university level most faculty play a large role in determining course objectives, content, and materials. Consequently, at the university level, it will be critical for the electronic educational environment to support course development and modification as well as the learning activities of the student. Open architectures and materials will prove to be very important to faculty who desire to put their own personal touch on the course and maintain ownership of the materials. Electronic educational environments will have to contend with ownership and copyright issues at the faculty level, institutional level, and corporate publisher's level.
Training Institutes, Continuing Education, and Life Long Learning
Once a student has matriculated through the grades and completed their degree and even advanced degrees, the learning process and the environment should not disappear. Instead it should always be available for additional courses, for just-in-time learning, and as a continuing repository of materials and learning activities for review and reference. In a real sense the electronic educational environment should be from cradle to grave and fully accessible within that time frame. Instead of the disorganized, incomplete set of printed materials that one is left with following graduation, there should be a complete repository of all learning materials and products of all courses ever taken. Furthermore, as updates are added to those courses, the student should be informed and able to go back and study those updates in their field of choice. They should also be able to return to previous course materials and ongoing courses to refresh their study and to stay current.
Additional continuing education courses and specialized professional training courses are particularly conducive to the electronic educational environment. These courses may be entirely self-directed or without a group structure. They may be synchronous or asynchronous or any combination of methods to facilitate access and learning needs. Since most such courses are professional in nature is it likely that the materials will be developed by instructional specialists and maintained by training institutes, corporations, the government and military, and continuing education institutions. In addition, individuals and nonprofit organizations may offer adult education courses for free or at nominal charges for special interest groups (e.g., saving the ecology, Civil War history, learning to play Bridge) or for the benefit of the whole society (e.g., better nutrition, health and safety, legal issues).
These courses may run the full gamete from learning factual knowledge to strategic knowledge. They may emphasize individual learning of material or focus on team collaboration and problem solving. They range from highly specialized and professional to general interest and recreational. Whatever the purpose, the new electronic educational environment will extend the range of educational opportunities to all ages and all people.
Computer assisted instruction with drill and practice was originally an exciting idea bringing programmed instruction to life in the 70's and 80's. It allowed individualized instruction and relieved the teacher from time intensive one-on-one tutoring. Students could work at their own rate, in near errorless environments, with positive feedback. But with all of our good intentions to create an engaging learning environment, there was an overriding tendency for automation, rote learning, and boredom to dominate. Applications start with a creative, novel, and motivated thrust only to become yet another passé program. As technology moves to bring education to the masses for less, it will become more and more mechanical and less creative. There will be a tendency to develop courses that become fixed rather than dynamic. To counter this we need to push technology up rather than down. By this I mean that we need to create educational technologies that support the development of higher levels of learning -- seminars, collaboration, workshops, dialogue, and creation rather than fixed, canned courseware. The cost of this approach is not only in terms of technology but more fundamentally in terms of human involvement and labor. Learning is a human activity and is ultimately supported by the human activity of teaching.
As the educational environment moves across subjects and up the levels, it must not only maintain a consistent unfolding interface, but it must also promote links across different subject material in support of the unity and inter-relatedness of all knowledge. Furthermore, the environment must support the progressive development of material and the growth of knowledge in the learner. Thus, HyperCourseware must capture in a meaningful way the entire body of knowledge as well as the product of the learning process. In a real sense, it must capture the entire school transcript as well as all of the course material, course products, and course interactions that fill out the details behind it.
1. Find additional examples for either Table 13.1, 13.2, or 13.3.
2. Find a simulation or an interactive game and discuss how it could be linked into HyperCourseware as suggested by Figure 13.1.
3. What would be the impact of implementing a consistent educational environment that would follow a student from kindergarten through high school, college, and on through life long learning? Consider the accumulating database of course materials and course products over a life time of education. In what ways would it be similar to current practices and how would it be different?
[Table of Contents] [Chapter 12] [Chapter 14]