SUMMARY: Learning to solve problems with technology

Jonassen, D. H. (2003) Learning to Solve Problems with Technology, Chapter 1, Upper Saddle River, Merrill-Prentice Hall

Dr David Jonassen is a professor at the Univesity of Missouri where he teaches about Learning Technologies and Educational Psychology. He has published over 35 books and written hundreds of articles and reports on: text design, task analysis, instructional design, computer-based learning, hypermedia, constructivism, cognitive tools, and problem solving. His current research is on cognitive processes engaged in problem solving, and the models and methods that can support these processes during learning.

“Everyone, toddlers to experts, naturally construct theories

about how the world works”.

He believes that when learning takes place there is a relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs, as everyone responds, on some level, to reinforcers: a behavioural psychologist theory. If we think of learning as a sophisticated process: the subject takes in information to their short term memory, this is then catalogued in their long term memory so that they can retrieve the information and shift it to their working memory to utilise it. Although, contemporary constructivists believe that this “machine metaphor” does not adequately explain the ability of the human mind being capable of making meaning from its environment.

Learning is…
social negotiation (relies on feedback from fellow humans, on own identity and the viability of personal beliefs).
thinking skills (being able to analyse and apply knowledge).
construction (natural process of assimilation, accommodation and exploration).
conceptual change (embedding concepts in different contexts).
contextual change (knowledge of the context in which knowledge was constructed; the environment and experience of the learning).
activity (the experience).
distributed among the community (and by collaboration).
chaos (systems tend to behave randomly and outcomes cannot always be explained; but people do learn).
We are complex organisms as learning is all of this.
What is the primary goal of schools?
* To help students to learn how to recognise and solve problems.
* To comprehend new phenomena.
* To contract mental  models of those phenomena.
* To set goals and regulate their own learning
Technology-using educators would answer that the primary goal of schools is to…
…support meaningful learning; using technology to engage students in active, constructive, intentional, authentic and cooperative learning.
Meaningful learning is:
* active, adaptive for survival, evolving
* development of sophisticated skills and construction of advanced knowledge about the world
* ability to manipulate objects or parameters in their environment and observe the results
* constructive
* articulated
* reflective
* curiosity can be a catalyst
* intentional, authentic, cooperative
* interrelated, interactive and interdependent.
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How does technology facilitate learning?
The problem presently facing educators is that they are using technology as a presenter of information, a delivery method. The traditional view of education and educators.
However, since the eruption of the internet and the development of inexpensive, multimedia computers, the nature of education has changed, or at least, those in the “Knowledge Age” understand it as a necessity to change the educational systems. Technologies can be more effective at teaching students than teachers are with the understanding of technologies as learning tools that students can learn with and not from. Then the nature of student learning will change.
Technology can be a partner in the learning process, to engage and support thinking, as well as provide environments in which students can learn through collaboration, cognitive learning strategies and critical thinking skills.
Jonassen believes that technology should not prescribe or control learner interactions but give support.
A change is needed in education, with teachers needing to develop their own skills and familiarity with technology. But remembering that they can learn with the students and don’t have to be the experts: “learn to coach the learning of technology skills”. Learner skills can then be focused on:  articulating, reflecting, evaluating; setting goals, regulating activities and effort; collaboration and conversing with others.

What do you think?

Do we need to rethink our education system based on skills needed for the “Knowledge Age”?

What are the problems with technology?

Does technology work?






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