Thursday, March 31, 2011

The role of technology for the library and student learning

Technology can provide “scaffolds and tools to enhance learning” (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000, p. 207). The new hyperlinked world is waiting on us to click, just once, and follow the information. Whether integrated, inter-related or simply hyperlinked there is a world of information available for us.

We can find answers to general questions and to obscure questions as well. Having an understanding of simple search strategies can provide more information than previously imagined. Some search engines now let you ask a question, and the search engine will find answer(s).

Technology becomes one form of a scaffold. The process of scaffolding helps or assists learners to “acquire knowledge or skill which cannot be acquired without assistance at that point in time” (Bull, Shuler, Overton, Kimball, Boykin and Griffin, 1993, p. 241). A hyperlinked scaffold has the potential to provide just-in-time answers to questions. One concern, though, is information overload. Too many hyperlinks can make the simple search a quest of epic proportion.

To some, a scaffold is a resource. Resources “are people, tools, technologies, and materials designed to help learners” (Definition and Terminology Committee of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 2008, p. 12). Whatever helps the learner to learn can be a scaffold, or even a resource.

However, the greatest distinction is that a scaffold enhances the process of learning. The scaffold should help, aid, assist, make clearer, provide direction and overall SUPPORT the process of learning. It is possible to learn WITHOUT some sort of scaffold, but the presence of a GOOD scaffold can make the learning more engaging and more meaningful.

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school: Expanded edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Bull, K., Shuler, P. Overton, R., Kimball, S., Boykin, C., & Griffin, J. (1993). “Processes for developing scaffolding in a computer mediated learning environment”. Conference Proceedings of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES), Albuquerque, New Mexico. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service: ED 429 765).

Definition and Terminology Committee of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (2008). “Definition.” In Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (Eds.). Educational technology: A definition with commentary, pp. 1-14. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

1 comment:

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