The Role of the Internet in Education and Training:Medium to Long-Term Research Issues John Cook email@example.com http://www2.unl.ac.uk/~exbzcookj/cook.html Learning Technology Research Institute (LTRI) www.unl.ac.uk/ltri/ & School of Informatics and Multimedia Technology, University of North London
Structure of talk • Aims and Scope of Talk. • Current Context. • Medium-Term Research Issues. • Long-Term Research Issues. • Conclusions.
Aims and Scope of Talk • My main message is that Community, Culture, Computing, Communication and Cognition should be investigated in future research. • Learning applies to training and education.
Current Context • Information Society Technologies (IST) programme. • KA III - Multimedia Content and Tools. • EU’s eLearning initiative. • eUniversities, school of tommorrow and eCommerce, etc.
Christopher Galvin, President Motorola: • We are not hiring any more graduates with four year degrees. • We want employees with forty year degrees. (Quoted by Wilson, 2000) • Training and Development is a • $62 billion dollar industry in transition; • corporate spending on Web training hit $600 million in less than five years; • expected to jump to $10 billion by 2002. (Wilson, 2000)
Gavriel Salomon from the University of Haifa: “with the Internet and multimedia, with its model-building and simulation capacities, with its email, hypertext, CMC and other unfathomable possibilities, seduces us to believe that it can do miracles; Its introduction for learning purposes into classrooms, colleges, homes and even work places, is supposed to cause a major shift in education.” (Saloman, 2000) However, Salomon and others in the field, including myself, are disappointed with the state of current research ...
One possible criticism of current research is that it has a tendency to investigate the optimisation of current practice • Are our expectations, and consequently the financial investments in educational computing, justified? • Some studies suggest that very little, if anything, has happened so far as a result of computing in education. • An anecdote attributed to Alan Kaye at an Ed-Media conference some years ago runs as follows. • We have a tendency to optimise the old, or current, ways of doing things, e.g. putting lecture notes on the web. We are only slowly finding new ways of doing things.
A second possible criticism of current research is that it has a technology centered focus. • A typical rationale that seems to underlie much research is: What can we accomplish with our new technology? • Rarely do research papers start out from the learning perspective. • Of course there are always exceptions. Seymour Papert (1980) for example, put forward some powerful ideas on how to use computers to augment cognitive growth.
However, technology is often seen as the beginning and the justification for all rationales. • Rather than knowledge construction, the computer or the technology has tended to become the focus of attention. Why? • Computers hold a strong fascination for us. They are marketed like cars, they are even sexy! Teaching and learning strategies, unfortunately, can’t compete.
A third concern is the choice of the wrong research questions. • For example, “Does the use of learning technology X produce better learning results than traditional approach Y”. • We have a tendency to keep repeating this car-racing paradigm. • Ideas of the interactive means by which different teachers promote learning or by which learners learn, nor ideas of ecological context, have had an impact on the vast majority of studies.
Another issue related to the third concern is the kinds of research outcomes we expect from the new media which we study. • New technologies are not just another means to attain the same old goals of traditional education. • Imagine that I had just discovered electricity and I decided to evaluate it in terms of its ability to light fires in the coal stoves.
Recent work at LTRI that has attempted to overcome some of these disappointments. • At the LTRI we have been involved in work that puts the educational vision first. • Internet based constructivist learning environments are being developed to promote multimedia students’ critical thinking and active learning (Boyle, 1997; Cook and Boyle, 2000; Cook, 2000a). • The development of a pedagogical agent to foster musical creativity (Cook, 1998, Cook, 2000b; Cook, 2000c). • Davis (2000) has examined CMC in the context of social and emotional factors in foreign language teaching.
Medium-Term Research Issues Need multidisciplinary research teams.
The Internet affords new activities, new experiences, and new ways of encountering the world. We should therefore adopt new research goals. • Of course some good research has already been conducted in the areas I am about to specify, but we need to build upon this work.
How do we promote in our students and trainees the following abilities? • to cooperate and collaborate in groups, • to evaluate information critically, • to acquire life-long learning skills, • to construct higher-order knowledge and probably above all else, • to be adaptive and creative when tackling new problems.
Research should test which learning environment is better for what purpose. For example • How compatible is remote learning via CMC with what we know, for example, about the difficulties of self-regulated learning for the lonely student? • Would we want to move socialisation away from the school-based peer group and into the family environment? • We also need more research into • issues surrounding the re-use of educational materials, • standards that enable good practice and materials to be exchanged and extended.
As well as some of the above issues, at the LTRI we are also interested in looking at • the theoretical basis of learning technology, i.e. establishing the foundations of an applied discipline of computer-assisted learning; • design innovation based on the mapping of pedagogical theories onto the opportunities created by the rapid advances in learning technologies; • methods for the development of computer-based learning that promote communities of inquiry, creativity and problem-solving; • theory and practice for evaluation, which takes into account the requirements of different stakeholders; • the influence of cultural differences on learning and assessment in e-universities.
Long-Term Research Issues Gordon McCalla from University of Saskatchewan, Canada, has recently speculated on a research agenda in the context of localisation for the design of environments to support learning in the year 2010. (McCalla 2000a, McCalla 2000b).
“By then, the increasing universality of information technology will have so overloaded people with information that they will find it necessary to drastically constrain their interactions in cyberspace. The result will be a major trend to localization, not globalization. This localization will [result] in a fragmented social environment.” (McCalla 2000b, p. 177)
McCalla provides a useful perspective which seems focused on communication. • An alternative, but related perspective, is selective coherence, a theme in psychology. • How do you stop yourself being overwhelmed by information or communication demands? • Mastery and control: are we being driven by technology or can we stay in control?
Conclusion Future research could focus on combinations of some the following five Cs: Community, Culture, Computing Communication and Cognition.
Community • Localised villages, perhaps? • But, care is needed so as not to exclude individuals. • Culture • May be unique to a community or distributed. • Multidisciplinary approach needed to develop useful systems. Teams may include social, political and economic sciences as well as the more usual disciplines found in research teams.
Computing • Tools and technologies designed to support the above 2Cs and embedded in that context to help the learner. • A system’s pedagogical goals may be implemented computationally. • Software without boundaries: distributed ecological agents, active data, applications take on meaning relative to end-use, unpredictable behaviour of agents.
Communication • Inter and intra community. • Tools that guide individuals, groups and communities. • Cognition • Fragmented styles of teaching and learning, just-in-time teaching and learning. • Socially distributed cognition and socially appropriated knowledge. • Modelling (AI-ED) may merge with situated/constructivist approaches.
Endnote We need to develop systems that • promote in learners openness and creativity, • that enable citizens to fulfil their potential, both personally and in their work lives. This should in turn lead to computers, and related technologies, that help to create a new or modified culture. We need to use computers to help build communities of intelligent life-long learners who are guided by some community and cultural values that transcend simple self-interest.
References Boyle T. (1997). Design for multimedia learning. Prentice Hall. Web site to complement the book, which is accessable at: http://www.unl.ac.uk/simt/dfml/website/ Cook, J. and Boyle, T. (2000). Effective Delivery of On-Campus Networked Learning: Reflections on Two Case-Studies. 2nd International Conference on Networked Learning, April 17 to 19th 2000, University of Lancaster. Cook, J. (1998). Mentoring, Metacognition and Music: Interaction Analyses and Implications for Intelligent Learning Environments. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education,9, 45-87. Cook, J. (2000a). Designing web-based adaptive support for debate with dialogue modelling. Paper accepted for International Workshop on Advanced Learning Technologies, 4-6 December 2000, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Will appear in proceedings published by IEEE Computer Society Press. Cook, J. (2000b). Cooperative problem-seeking dialogues in learning. In G. Gauthier, C. Frasson and K. VanLehn (Eds.) Intelligent Tutoring Systems: 5th International Conference, ITS 2000 Montréal, Canada, June 2000 Proceedings, (p. 615-624). Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer-Verlag. Cook, J. (2000c). Evaluation of a support tool for musical problem-seeking. ED-Media 2000 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. June 26-July 1, 2000, Montréal, Canada. AACE.
Davis, M. (2000). Computer Mediated Communication as a Foreign Language: Potential and Pitfalls in Cyberspace. Presented at the PALSO Conference,Panhellenic Federation of Foreign Language School Owners, Athens, Greece, August, 2000. MacCalla , G. (2000a). Life and Learning in the Electronic Village: The Importance of Localization for the Design of Environments to Support Learning. Invited talk given at Intelligent Tutoring Systems: 5th International Conference, ITS 2000 Montréal, Canada, June 2000. Talk was based on MacCalla (2000b). MacCalla , G. (2000b). The Fragmentation of Culture, Learning, Teaching and Technology: Implications for the Artificial Intelligence in Education Research Agenda in 2010. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 11, 177-196. Papert, S. (1980), Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas. Harvester Press. Salomon, G. (2000). It’s not just the tool, but the educational rationale that counts.Invited keynote address at ED-Media 2000 - World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. June 26-July 1, 2000, Montréal, Canada. AACE. Wilson, J. (2000). The Internet Tsunami - eLearning. Keynote Speaker at ALT-C 2000, 7th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology, 11-13 September, UNMIST, Manchester. Acknowledgement: Thanks to Tom Boyle for making some useful comments, at very short notice, on this talk.