WikiEdProfessional eLearning Guidebook/Pedagogical designs for eLearning/Optimizing the influence of media in learning

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Skillful integration of media and instructional method (i.e., learning and teaching strategies) is critical in the optimization of the influence of media in learning. This has to do with careful selection and matching of media attributes with learning and teaching strategies. Contemporary information and communications technologies afford a wide range and variety of opportunities to rethink and reengineer the nature of our teaching and learning practices (Gibson, 1977; Turvey, 1992). A major part of this reengineering process includes shifts in the roles of teachers from being providers and deliverers of subject matter content to becoming moderators and facilitators of learning within the context of a learner and learning-centered approach to education. Learner and learning-centeredness is regarded as a desirable trait in education and training generally. Learner and learning-centered educational environments are those where the learner and the learning process is the focus of program design, development and delivery. In such educational settings, the learner -- not the teacher, organization, or technology -- is in charge of the learning experience.

Learner and learning-centered educational processes are defining characteristics of situated learning environments. The concept of situated learning is grounded in the principles of constructivist learning theory (Wilson, 1996). It is based on the belief that learning is most efficient and effective when it takes place within the context of realistic educational settings which are either real or contrived (see Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). The roots of situated approaches to education and training are traceable to the concepts of experiential learning (see Dewey, 1938), and problem based learning (see Barrows, 1994; Kohler, 1925, Koffka, 1935; Orrill, 2000). Exemplar situated learning environments use “authentic learning tasks” to immerse learners in the total ecology and culture of the subject matter that is being taught and learned, much like an apprentice carpenter is immersed in a building site with architects and experienced builders (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). These so called authentic learning tasks serve to “anchor” learning and teaching activities in order to scaffold learning and cognition (The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbuilt, 1990).

The notions of situated learning and the use of authentic learning tasks that serve to anchor and scaffold learning and teaching are heavily dependent on the use of real-world or contrived educational activities that adequately reflect real-world settings. These sorts of educational activities are inherently complex and as such time-consuming to manage. They are harder to integrate into conventional classroom settings which are limited by the opportunities they afford to engage students in authentic real-world problem-solving. While field trips and excursions offer occasional and limited opportunities, they are not enough. Therefore many teachers and organizations refrain from engaging in situated learning activities in their classes and instead depend on approaches that are a lot more expedient and teacher and subject matter centered.

Contemporary information and communications technologies offer some reprieve from the confines and constraints of conventional classrooms. They afford us opportunities to capture and/or represent real-world scenarios for use by learners within the conventional classroom. These representations can include actual images or simulations of complex phenomena from the field which can be a lot more easily integrated into the classroom curricula. They can be used as additional resources in lieu of actual field experience, or they can form a core component of the learning experience of students as is possible in the case of goal-based or problem-based learning, case-based reasoning or scenariobased learning (see Schank, 1997). The rest of this chapter discusses a number of these pedagogical designs for optimizing the influence of media on learning in this manner.

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Web Resources

Here is a paper on “Learning Theories” by a graduate student from University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

In addition, you would love this load of great stuff on theories of learning on the following sites.

These two websites have a list of most major Journals in Educational Technology and Distance Education.

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To what extent are these perspectives on learning and the influence of media (information and communications technology) on learning congruent with your own views as well as with the views of those of your colleagues and peers?

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Tell us a story

Can you relate any educational experience where these perspectives on learning were being applied? What do you remember most clearly about that experience?