learning processes and interactive learning.
The ideas of Piaget concerning the active construction,
structuring knowledge and stages of development, have been drawn on for long in
education and specially in using computers in education. For
example Davis remarks how: “The stress on the stage-like nature of cognition
has given support to the notion of readiness-children will only learn
effectively if their educational experience are suitably matched to their
current level of understanding” (Davis, 1991, p.19).
schools ensure that children have many opportunities to interact with their
environment and are given plenty of concrete materials to develop their
mathematical understanding. In
using computers in education, Seymor Papert, who worked with Jean Piaget in
Geneva, was particularly influenced by Piaget´s ideas and argued that
educational software should be designed to develop children’s thinking. He applied these arguments to the use of the programming
language LOGO, which he claims can benefit children in their mathematical
thinking. His ideas parallel with the socio-cultural theories of Feuerstein and
Vygotsky when he claims that LOGO provides a culture which helps to make
abstract mathematical concepts simple and concrete so that the child can relate
them to his or her existing knowledge and fit them into his or her knowledge
structure (Jones, 1995 ).
which has been strong influence on Papert´s work, is the way children learn to
talk. This process happens without
any formal organized learning and is encouraged by the environment.
Papert used this analogy in describing ´Mathland´
´a context which is to learn math like living in France is learning
French´ (Jones,1995, Spencer,
that Papert built into LOGO was the ´Turtle´, triangular cursor that can be
moved and rotated by the child, to produce a geometrical drawing.
The potential of LOGO to allow the user to illustrate his own commands
and thus extend the power of language, is one of its main attractiveness and
strengths. The programmer uses the
thought of ´recursion´ to simplify the structure of the program.
Recursion means ´repeat what you knew earlier (but with a slight
difference)´. Using one previously
defined command and repeating several times with small changes in size and
rotation draws a complicated figure. By
experimenting with such programming, Papert reason that, children gain insights
into how complex ideas are structured from simpler ones. This insight, achieved in the context of ´turtle geometry´,
is alleged to transfer to other domains of learning as well (Romiszowski 1997).
issue raised by Papert´s approach to computers in education was that of
resource. He had the notion of the
computer as an everyday tool like the pencil, and each child needed an easy
access to one. He acknowledged the
requirement for a vast number of computers and for children to have a lot of
exposure. This has not been
possible for most schools and the pattern of the use of computers in schools
have evolved to the children working in small groups.
There are some evidences (Bennett, 1987, Galton, 1989) that when working
with computers, children are collaborating rather than just working alongside
each other, which is often the case in childrens´ group working.
Some evidence shows that when children are working with computer, the
interaction is related to the task and the children relay on each other for help
rather than the teacher (Jones 1995). When
children collaborate in this way, they share the process of constructing ideas,
instead of laboring individually. The advantages of this collective effort are that children
are able to reflect on and elaborate not just their own ideas, but those of
their peers as well. Children come
to view their peers not as competitors but as resources. Mutual tutoring, a sense of shared progress and shared goals,
and a feeling of teamwork are the natural outcomes of cooperative
problem-solving, and these processes of interaction, according to the
socio-cultural theories, are likely to show advances in learning.
focus of constructivism is the child as a self- governed creator of knowledge.
Educational practices that follow from this focus are designed to
facilitate children’s learning by nurturing their own active cognitive
abilities, like the Papert´s Turtle learning program described earlier.
society of electronic driven technology has changed the way children today are
brought up comparing to those brought up 20 years ago.
Computers, TVs, video and other technologies engage children with the
immediacy they are used to in their everyday lives.
Technology makes possible the instant exchange of information between
people; it allows instant access to databases and online information services,
and provides multimedia technical resources such as interactive audio and video.
The developments in telecommunication have made it possible for learning
to take place in out of schoolroom environment –the global classroom.
Although distant learning has been known for many years the arrival of
the Internet has changed the way distant learning can be conducted.
School in rural areas can collaborate in other spectrum than before.
project in North-East Scotland recently explored how an electronic network could
be used to help able children develop their thinking skills. This project STARS (Superhighways Team Across Rural Schools)
was aimed at small rural primaries, where those able children are often not
stretched to their full potential. They
are alone on the top of the class and their ideas are unquestioned and
unchallenged by other children. Because
schools were so small, separate out only the able pupils, one or two children at
most taking part, would have caused social problem, so others were included in
the school groups of four or five. The
objective was to teach thinking skills through problem solving, promoting
critical thinking, creative thinking and collaborative learning.
Computer-based assignments, all with a Space theme, were published on Web
sites called launchpads, and some projects involved doing research on the
Internet. On some problem solving
exercises the children had to come up with a single solution on behalf of their
school, working together in their own group and reaching some agreement.
To get to the best solution the children had to argue their case and
accept others point of view. In
other cases they had to cooperate with the other schools (Walker,D., 1998).
to Jim Ewing who ran the project the main findings were: “One idea was that
children should listen to others and respect their contribution.
That was definitely an outcome. At
first they were disappointed when other people shot down their ideas and it took
them some time before they understood that other people’s ideas might be worth
considering. They were learning, as they might not do in a small rural
school, that there were other people around who were just as bright as, or
brighter than, they were themselves” (Walker,D., 1998. P. 41)
findings showed that the able children took responsibility as a group leaders
and co-ordinators with other schools. Their
problem solving became more systematic, and there were distinct gains in their
use of critical thinking skills. The
teachers role in this project was to provide the children with setting the
project in motion, helping with concepts and vocabulary, and in the end to
register what they had learned.
STARS project is taken here as an example how the interactive-technology can
improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Teachers in the schools involved reported that the project had
”awakened their professional interest in distance learning, in differentiation
in teaching for different pupils, and in teaching thinking” (Walker,D., 1998.
Roundstone the band see their site here
Some photos from Iceland see here
Sólrún B. Kristinsdóttir © 2001 Síðast uppfært 21.10.2008