Technology and Rhetoric

Bransford, and Brown.“Technology to Support Learning.” How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. 206-230. April 2008.

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. Cognitive technologies were first used to help students learn mathematics (Pea, 1985) and writing (Pea and Kurland, 1987); a decade later, a multitude of projects use cognitive scaffolds to promote complex thinking, design, and learning in the sciences, mathematics, and writing. (214)

“Peers can serve as excellent sources of feedback. Over the last decade, there have been some very successful and influential demonstrations of how computer networks can support groups of students actively engaged in learning and reflection” (219).

Peer learning takes advantage of rhetoric as epistemic and helps the students discover and create the knowledge in the classroom. Technology can help facilitate learning and cooperation by allowing asynchronous interactions, among other things.

“To make the most of the opportunities for conversation and learning available through these kinds of networks, students, teachers, and mentors must be willing to assume new or untraditional roles” (226).

I confess to having a bit of difficulty with this, as I feel uncomfortable outside the role of teacher–or at least mentor. However, I can see where to facilitate learning through new technologies, I have to get the students moving and then see where we go.

The introduction of new technologies to classrooms has offered new insights about the roles of teachers in promoting learning (McDonald and Naso, 1986; Watts, 1985). Technology can give teachers license to experiment and tinker (Means and Olson, 1995a; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995). It 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. (226)

Because teachers are experts in our fields, we have often forgotten what it was like to be a newcomer in the experience. New technology, which we must learn and adapt to, becomes a way to “level the playing field” so that students and teachers are learning as we go. Demonstrating our experience in learning, being willing to make mistakes in front of students, can be an advantage in education.

“As teachers learn to use technology, their own learning has implications for the ways in which they assist students to learn more generally (McDonald and Naso, 1986)” (227).

“They need collegial advisers rather than supervisors; advising is a partnership” (227).

“Technology has become an important instrument in education. Computer-based technologies hold great promise both for increasing access to knowledge and as a means of promoting learning” (229).

This is relevant to our classrooms because we need to learn and to be collegial advisors, for our students and our colleagues.

Computer-based tech holds promise for increasing access to knowledge in ways we may not be able to dream of right this minute–or at least some of us can’t.

Sugata Mitra, spoke at LIFT 2007, about sticking a computer in the wall and how young kids taught themselves to read and study.

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