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.

The impact of technology on the library: Broadening the shelves with digital resources

The role of technology is forever changing the way we live and learn. Technology is changing the library, and the library is changing the ways we use technology.

Technology can bring “exciting curricula based on real-world problems into the classroom” (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000, p. 207). Through the use of digital assets, curricular materials can become richer with the integration of contemporary sources. Digital news can change a current event into an evolving current event.

e-Books, e-Texts and net-libraries provide access, in some cases, to the ORIGINAL source documents (digitally, of course). Through the growth and expansion of library offerings, there is access to MORE materials than ever before.

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

CAT 6: Minute Paper

Two simple questions: “What was the most important thing you learned during this class? And What important question remains unanswered?” (Angelo and Cross, 1993, p. 148). The two questions that can let us know if we are “on track” teaching, or “off the beaten path.” Asking students what they have learned can help us improve our teaching. Hopefully they learn something that has been taught. It’s always insightful to read responses, and learn what they THINK they have learned.

The other questions asks students to identify what hasn’t been answered. We may have covered the content too quickly, or made too many assumptions, and thus, the student has an unanswered question.

But, what do we do with the results? It’s always easy to use the answers to the first question to validate our teaching, and never share the results. But, that’s where probing may be worthwhile. What made learning occur? Did we use great examples? Was our explanation thorough? Asking why students learned can help us continue to improve our teaching methods.

The second question is, for some, troublesome. Why didn’t they learn? How can they STILL have a question, after my riveting lecture or discussion? The answer to the second question may indicate places where we need to do MORE, or do things DIFFERENTLY. Did I explain things? Did I make the content relevant to their lives? Do I need to use multimedia to help students learn, or to help me teach?

Take the time to ask the questions. Read their answers. Use the answers to start the NEXT class period, and clear up any unanswered questions. Use the answers to shape or RESHAPE the next class period. It’s just two simple questions.

Angelo, T., & Cross, K. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. (2nd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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