Technology supporting learning

Technology in Support of Learning

Efforts to use technology to assist learning began in 1968, and have accelerated in schools since then.

The chapter discusses the merits of using what we know about learning pedagogically, in combination with technology in the classroom, to develop competencies needed for the 21st century.  New technologies can…

Extend “old” ways of doing this

Online Blackboards or physical smart boards, online books

One-way communication – like TV shows and radio

And can add new venues for learning like

Virtual learning spaces that are highly visual, interactive, and collaborative making use of shared resources.

There is an underlying caution against the belief that the mere presence of technology in classroom will result in enhanced learning.  The technology has to be used effectively and be supported by sound pedagogy, for learning to occur.

The chapter discusses five ways technology can be used to enhance learning in classrooms:

1.    Bringing exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom;

2.    Providing scaffolds and tools to enhance learning;

3.    Giving students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and revision;

4.    Building local and global communities that include teachers, administrators, students, parents, practicing scientists, and other interested people;

5.    Expanding opportunities for teacher learning.




1.  Bringing exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom

a.    This entails creating highly interactive problem solving environments

                                              i.     Technology offers powerful tools for addressing field trip and meeting constraints with video-based problems, computer simulations, and electronic communications systems that connect classrooms with communities of practitioners in science, mathematics, and other fields.

                                             ii.     This allows students to collaborate in a wider learning community or  “collaboratories”

                                           iii.     In these spaces, students using shared visual tool can see how their local data fits into a larger model. (i.e. local environmental studies climate issues).

b.    Studies were conducted showing that integrating this approach into the curriculum results in positive student attitude towards math and complex problems, as well as increased scores on standardized tests.

2.  Providing scaffolds and analysis tools to enhance learning

a.    Many technologies integrate cognitive scaffolds to promote complex thinking, design, and learning in the sciences, mathematics, and writing.

b.    The challenge for education is to design technologies for learning that draw both from knowledge about human cognition and from practical applications of how technology can facilitate complex tasks in the workplace.

c.    Like training wheels, computer scaffolding enables learners to do more advanced activities and to engage in more advanced thinking and problem solving than they could without such help.

                                              i.     This includes using visual models representing hard to discern data, and using analysis tools against the virtual model.

                                             ii.     Some scholars assert that simulations and computer-based models are the most powerful resources for the advancement and application of mathematics and science since the origins of mathematical modeling during the Renaissance

d.    The ability of the human mind to quickly process and remember visual information suggests that concrete graphics and other visual representations of information can help people learn.

3.  Giving students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and revision

a.   Technology can make it easier for teachers to give students feedback about their thinking and for students to revise their work. (blogs)

b.   It creates opportunities to incorporate into curricula a meta-cognitive approach to instruction by using an inquiry cycle that helps students see where they are in the inquiry process.   Processes called reflective assessment can be used, in which students reflect on their own and each other’s inquiries.

c.    Opportunities to interact with working scientists, as discussed above, also provide rich experiences for learning from feedback and revision

                                              i.     These processes can make students’ reasoning more visible and encourages reflective thinking.

                                             ii.     With support from the instructor, these processes engage students in dialogues that integrate information and contributions from various sources to produce knowledge.

                                           iii.     Another example is the “collaboratory” notebook, which is divided into electronic workspaces, called notebooks that can be used by students working together on a specific investigation. The notebook provides options for making different kinds of pages—questions, conjectures, evidence for, evidence against, plans, steps in plans, information, and commentary.

d.    Sophisticated tutoring environments that pose problems are also now available and give students feedback on the basis of how experts reason and organize their knowledge in physics, chemistry, algebra, computer programming, history, and economics

4.  Building local and global communities that include teachers, administrators, students, parents, practicing scientists, and other interested people.

a.    Students learn more when they are able to interact with working scientists, chapters, and other practicing professionals.

b.    These days one can do an entire degree program in an on-line university – University of Phoenix

5.  Expanding opportunities for teacher learning.

a.    Technology can stimulate teachers to think about the processes of learning, whether through a fresh study of their own subject or a fresh perspective on students’ learning. It softens the barrier between what students do and what teachers do.

b.    When teachers learn to use a new technology in their classrooms, they model the learning process for students; at the same time, they gain new insights on teaching by watching their students learn. Moreover, the transfer of the teaching role from teacher to student often occurs spontaneously during efforts to use computers in classrooms.

                                              i.     Epistemological chapterity—teachers possessing knowledge and students receiving knowledge—is redefined, which in turn redefines social chapterity and personal responsibility

c.    Professional development – Technically proficient teachers will translate to more technically proficient students.

                                              i.     On-line Resources and support systems




What has not yet been fully understood is that computer-based technologies can be powerful pedagogical tools—not just rich sources of information, but also extensions of human capabilities and contexts for social interactions supporting learning.

to make this happen, learning research will need to become the constant companion of software development.


One Response to “Technology supporting learning”

  1. curiousjoel Says:

    My university experience has been that profs fear Wikipedia, while I want to have the Internet implanted in my brain. Seriously, how useless a construct do tests based on memorization actually quantify. Maybe in another generation we can have these advances in classroom tech.

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