[unrev-II] "Theory for Learning Technologies" - invitation to join Web peer review discussions

From: Simon Buckingham Shum (sbs@acm.org)
Date: Wed Jun 13 2001 - 12:12:27 PDT

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    Hi UnRev-ers,

    Apologies to those of you for whom this is out of your area, but for
    those of you who consider yourselves learning technologists, please
    consider this invitation.



                                An Interactive Journal
                                For Interactive Media


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    SPECIAL ISSUE: "Theory for Learning Technologies"


    Dear Colleague,

    You are invited to contribute to the online peer review of a
    submission to this major special issue (abstracts below). This is a
    collection of papers selected and revised from presentations at the
    ALT-C-2000 Workshop entitled, "Is There a Theoretical Basis for
    Learning Technology?" [http://www.umist.ac.uk/alt-c2000/workshops].
    These papers will be discussed via the Web over the summer months,
    prior to publication of accepted papers at the end of the year.

    A feature of JIME's review process is that your exchanges with the
    author and other reviewers may be co-published with the final
    article, if accepted. You are also acknowledged as a reviewer in
    recognition of your contribution.

    Please scan the abstracts below, and contact the Special Issue
    editor, Dr Martin Oliver [mailto:martin.oliver@ucl.ac.uk], if you
    would like to participate in a review discussion (initially private,
    then made public if the submission is accepted).


    JIME is a peer reviewed e-journal, published for free since 1996 by
    the UK's Open University. JIME is pioneering a hybrid private/public,
    conversational open peer review model, mediated via the web. Authors
    and reviewers engage in
    discussion about a submission. Authors have the right of reply, and
    reviewers are accountable for their comments. At its best, the result
    is a rich complement to the article, bringing together
    interdisciplinary perspectives. Together with any interactive
    demonstrations/websites associated with the article, reviewers' names
    and extracts from the review discussion are co-published with the
    final article, to recognise the intellectual investment and
    contributions made by the reviewers, and to provide a seed for
    subsequent contributions. For examples, see articles on the journal
    website: http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/

    We hope you will consider contributing to the creation of what should
    be a very interesting forum over the next few months, resulting in a
    substantive contribution to the literature.

    Martin Oliver Simon Buckingham Shum
    University College London The Open University
    Special Issue Editor JIME Co-General Editor
    martin.oliver@ucl.ac.uk sbs@acm.org


    ABSTRACTS FOR JIME SPECIAL ISSUE: "Theory for Learning Technologies"


    The uses of theory’ in educational technology research and development
    Helen Beetham

    In the literatures of educational technology research and
    development, new learning systems or interventions are regularly
    introduced in terms of some educational theory that has informed
    their development. As educational technologists have become
    enthusiastic in applying educational theory to their practice, they
    have increasingly sought to contribute to developing the theoretical
    discourse itself. One recent commentator has gone so far as to argue
    that '[educational technology] research is now at the center of some
    of the most creative, original and powerful work in education today'
    (Kozma 2000). But is the relationship between educational technology
    research and development and educational theory really in such rude
    health? This paper sets out from a notion of theory as a particular
    kind of situated activity, and as mediated by particular kinds of
    intellectual artefact. It asks who is carrying out the theory which
    informs educational technology R&D, and who is using the theoretical
    artefacts which result. Through close analysis of some key texts, and
    in particular the uses of 'constructivism' as a touchstone, the paper
    goes on to argue:

    * that much educational technology R&D falls within a paradigm of
    model building and testing derived from systems engineering;
    * that R&D which claims to be informed by very different theoretical
    paradigms often follows the same cybernetic methodological procedures;
    * that this in turn limits the possibilities for critical theorising,
    and for the development of a critical theoretical practice, in ways
    which have profound implications for the future of education.



    Towards a theoretical base for educational multimedia design
    Tom Boyle

    The aim of this paper is to contribute to the construction of a
    systematic theoretical base for educational multimedia design. The
    paper delineates different layers of explanation. It then argues for
    the interactional layer as the most appropriate for multimedia
    learning environment design. It proposes 'context' as the central
    construct at this layer. The relationships between multimedia
    contexts are explored, especially the concept of different levels of
    contexts corresponding to different educational demands. Further
    meta-theoretical clarification on the difference between procedural
    and declarative modes of explanation precedes the final section of
    the paper. This section explores how the internal structure, the
    morphology, of contexts might best be delineated for capture in a
    systematic knowledge base. The paper argues strongly that this type
    of theoretical clarification is required if we are to move towards a
    more systematic, 'scientific' base for the construction of
    educational multimedia systems.



    Systematising learning and research information
    Grainne Conole

    This paper considers the ways in which information of relevance to
    the learning and research communities is organised and used. It
    contends that there is considerable overlap between the different
    types of online resources and information currently available within
    education. It describes some of the structured environments and data
    stores that have emerged in recent years, along with standards which
    are attempting to define the properties of discrete learning objects,
    through the specification of Learning Object Metadata (LOM). The
    paper contends that current developments of structured learning
    environments such as Managed and Virtual Learning Environments (MLEs
    and VLEs) are occurring on the whole in parallel to resource data
    stores, such as information gateways and portals. This discrepancy
    has arisen in part because these developments have occurred
    independently of one another and in part because there has to date
    been no rigorous definition of the underlying theoretical models.
    Furthermore, it argues that these predefined structured environments
    are unlikely to be sufficient to meet the information needs of users
    in different contexts. The paper goes on to describe an information
    toolkit, which provides a way of systematising information handling
    in learning and research, which helps users articulate information
    plans within specific contexts. The paper concludes with a
    description of two case studies which illustrate how this toolkit can
    be used.



    Embedding theory into learning technology practice with toolkits
    Grainne Conole and Martin Oliver

    Expert and theoretical knowledge about the use of learning technology
    is not always available to practitioners. This paper illustrates one
    way in which practitioners can be supported in the process of
    engaging with theory in order to underpin practical applications in
    the use of learning technologies. This approach involves the design
    of decision-making resources, defined here as ‘toolkits’. This
    concept is then illustrated with three practical examples. The ways
    in which this approach embeds specific theoretical assumptions is
    discussed, and a model for toolkit specification, design and
    evaluation is described.



    The role of dialogue in computer-based learning and observing
    learning: an evolutionary approach to theory
    John Cook

    This paper examines two sides of a coin that relate to learning from
    dialogue. The first side of our coin relates to the role of dialogue
    in learning; the second side is related to the part that observations
    of learning can play in the design of computer-based learning
    environments. In order to define the scope of the paper two
    complementary research question are examined. The first question is
    how and why does one learn from dialogue? The second question is how,
    or to what extent, can theories and studies of dialogue and
    interaction be exploited in a concrete way by designers of
    interactive media for education? Following a review of related
    literature, we investigate the above questions by drawing on a
    useful, if somewhat simplified, conception of the role of theory and
    models in learning technology development. There are three aspects to
    what we are terming an evolutionary approach to learning technology
    theory: (i) theories/models of learning, (ii) empirical observations
    of learning, and (iii) interactive learning environment design and
    implementation. The purpose of this evolutionary approach is the
    mapping out of not a specific theory, but how people are working
    towards the creation of theories. The evolutionary approach involves
    a constant process which slowly takes the educational technology
    field forward in iterative steps. In order to concretize our
    evolutionary approach we examine the work of selected researchers, in
    the field of dialogue in learning, in the context of the identified
    three points of evolution. We conclude by suggesting that our
    evolutionary model can help designers of, and researchers into,
    learning technology in various important ways.



    Designing for pedagogical flexibility: experiences from the CANDLE project
    Aileen Earle

    This paper examines the experience of a group of designers attempting
    to implement pedagogical flexibility in the design of the CANDLE
    system. It sketches out how flexibility is emerging as a new design
    criterion, but warns that the implementation of such flexibility is
    fraught with conflicts. After foregrounding the myth of pedagogical
    neutrality in system design, it examines CANDLE's decision to build a
    system around a pan-pedagogical framework and the problems inherent
    in such an undertaking. In particular it reviews issues such as the
    operationalisation of pedagogical theory, epistemological conflicts
    in the use of static ontologies for domain representation, metadata,
    meaning and communities of practice, access rights and granularity.
    It concludes by calling for educational systems designers to consider
    pedagogy in all its complexity in the process of design and



    (Title to follow)
    Kim Issroff & Eileen Scanlon

    What use are theories to educational technologists? Some commentators
    argue that educational technology has developed independently from
    theories of learning and instruction. However, the range of theories
    and models which have been applied in accounts of studies in
    educational technology is long (for example, see Kearsley's review of
    50 theories). This paper will discuss the purpose and utility of
    theories in educational technology. We will review the range of
    purposes which can be served by a theory by looking at examples of
    work in the related fields of Human Computer Interaction and
    Artificial Intelligence in Education. The purpose of this review is
    to encourage educational technologists to examine their own use of
    theories in relation to the purpose of their research endeavours.



    Theoretical models of the role of visualisation in learning formal reasoning
    Martin Oliver & James Aczel

    Although there is empirical evidence that visualisation tools can
    help students to learn formal subjects such as logic, and although
    particular strategies and conceptual difficulties have been
    identified, it has so far proved difficult to provide a general model
    of learning that accounts for these in a systematic way. In this
    paper, models are described that attempt to explain the relative
    difficulty of formal concepts and the role of visualisation in this
    learning process. These explanations draw on several existing
    theories, including Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development, Green's
    Cognitive Dimensions, the Popper-Campbell model of conjectural
    learning, and accounts of cognitive complexity.

    The paper concludes with a comparison of the utility and
    applicability of the different models, and is accompanied by a
    reflexive commentary on the ways in which theory has been used within
    the paper.



    Engineering Learning Experiences
    John Traxler

    Theory can serve several different roles in learning technology. This
    discussion looks at a prescriptive role where theory sets out best
    practice and sketches one theory developed to support the development
    of learning experiences based on the model of engineering adopted by
    software developers.


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