Presentation on theme: "Does Using New Technology Improve Children's Learning?"— Presentation transcript:
1Does Using New Technology Improve Children's Learning? For those of you who don’t know us, I'm Jess and this is Andy and we have looked at whether new technologies improve children’s learning.Andy Powell and Jess Allen
2Do new technologies which aim to scaffold biology learning improve children's learning? We narrowed the question down to look specifically at technologies based on a framework for learning called scaffolding, and to focus on learning biology.We will begin by outlining scaffolding and the related psychological concepts in the traditional sense, and then present two case studies which have extended and applied these concepts to educational software.We will offer a critique of these technologies and identify whether they are able to improve children’s learning of biology.
3ScaffoldingScaffolding metaphor first used by Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976)Scaffolding consists of an adult ‘controlling’ the elements of a task initially beyond learners capacity, allowing them to concentrate on/complete only those elements within his range of competence .As the learner progresses the task proceeds to a successful outcomeThe use of the Scaffolding metaphor was first used in the context of education by Wood, Bruner and Ross in 1976.They suggested that scaffolding consists of an adult ‘controlling’ the elements of a task which are initially beyond the learners capacity, thus allowing them to concentrate on and complete only those elements that are within his range of competence . As the learner progresses the task proceeds to a successful outcome (1)
4Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) Scaffolding is associated with Vygotskys’ notion of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)Interacting with more able members of a society the child can do things that it would not be able to do on its own.Learning and development occurs through the internalisation of social processes.The concept of scaffolding is associated with Vygotskys’ notion of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)By interacting with more able members of a society the child can do things that it would not be able to do on its own. Learning and development occurs through the internalisation of social processes.
5Vygotsky introduced the notion of ZPD as a way of understanding how cognitive development occurs through social interaction. He defined it as the difference between the child’s actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the child’s potential developmental level as determined through problem solving with an adult or more able peer. Cognitive development occurs when the child is working in the ZPD
6Level of AssistanceIt is the assistance that is often seen as scaffolding and amount of assistance is critical.Too much and the task is too easy, too little and the task is too difficult.The assistance shouldBe of a level just outside the child’s existing developmental levelBe sensitive to changes in the child’s developmental level, and as the child progresses the adult should fade this help by providing less and lesseventually be withdrawn altogether when the child is competent.The amount of assistance is critical. Too much and the task is too easy, too little and the task is too difficult. It is the assistance that is often seen as scaffolding.It should be at a level just outside the child’s existing developmental level to provide a challenge. It should also be sensitive to changes in the child’s developmental level, and as the child progresses the adult should fade this help by providing less and less, eventually withdrawing altogether when the child is competent.
7Scaffolding and Technology Traditional views of scaffolding focused on social interaction as the source of assistanceThe focus of the last two decades research on cognitive science issues in technology design illuminated ways in which technological tools may provide the same scaffoldingWhile traditional views of scaffolding have focused on social interaction as the source of assistance, the focus of the last two decades research on cognitive science issues in technology design has illuminated ways in which technological tools may provide the same scaffolding thus in a classroom setting freeing up the teacher for other forms of assistance
8Scaffolding and Technology 2 Reiser (2002) discusses two mechanisms to explain how software tools can improve learning:structure the learning task, guiding learners through key components and supporting their performanceshape the students performance and understanding of the task in terms of key disciplinary content and strategies, thereby problematising this important content.Reiser (2002) discusses two mechanisms to explain how software tools can scaffold learners. Software tools can help structure the learning task, guiding learners through key components and supporting their performance and they can shape the students performance and understanding of the task in terms of key disciplinary content and strategies, thereby problematising this important content.We will now present two case studies of technologies that aim to scaffold children’s learning of biology to assess whether those technologies can help to improve the children’s learning.
10BGuILEProvides Biology Guided Learning Environments for secondary school childrenExplorable with specially designed computer software to foster scientific enquiry and discoveryChildren working collaboratively are given biology-relevant scenarios to explore with BGuILEA technology that seeks to improve children’s learning that is based on the aforementioned theoretical underpinnings of scaffolding is BGuILE, which provides Biology Guided Learning Environments for secondary school children, explorable with the aid of specially designed computer software to foster scientific inquiry and discovery.Typically, children working collaboratively are given scenarios relating to biology, and then with the aid of BGuILE software, have to investigate them. Different BGuILE environments have been designed for exploration with different BGuILE softwares, which together utilise different elements of scaffolding to allow improved children’s learning.
11ExplanationConstructor 1 ExplanationContructor is a BGuILE softwareComputer-based science journalStudents must construct scientific explanations based on environment being exploredStudents record research questions and sub-questions as they emergeStudents given explanation prompts to facilitate and link to research questionsAn example of a BGuILE software is ExplanationConstructor, a computer based science journal in which students are required to construct scientific explanations based on the environment they are exploring. Whilst working on a science investigation, students record their research questions and then add new sub-questions that arise from these as they emerge. Students are also prompted to facilitate explanations and link them to their original research questions.
12ExplanationConstructor 2 Supports and improves learning through structuringSoftware provides a structured workspaceProvides guidance for planning and monitoringHelps children articulate reasoned research questionsHelps to see links between questions and explanationsRelating this to the scaffolding concept that Jess described earlier,ExplanationConstructor is designed to support and improve learning through helping the structuring of investigation. Through the software providing a structured workspace, it is intended to provide guidance for planning of investigation and also guidance for monitoring. It is designed in a way that helps children to articulate thoroughly reasoned research questions as well as the ability to see the links between these questions and their resultant explanations, which entails constantly monitoring progress. Designers believe that these are elements of learning that children will not carry out when left to their own devices, through their hurry to produce final products.
13Evaluation of ExplanationConstructor 1 Evaluation of BGuILE software looks at benefits provided to nature of exploration and investigation carried out by childrenSandoval and Reiser (2004) analysed ExplanationConstructor applied to Galapagos environmentScenario: Population of finches on island is droppingChildren must find out and explain why, considering ecosystems and other biological factorsExplanationConstructor provides structured workspace to explore thisEvaluation of BGuILE softwares such ExplanationConstructor attempts to identify the benefits that these softwares provide relating to the nature of children’s exploration and investigation that is carried out with the software, which will in turn improve learning.Sandoval and Reiser (2004) for instance analysed the use of the ExplanationConstructor software applied to the BGuILE investigation environment Galapagos, as seen in the screenshot. In this scenario, students are made aware that the population of finches on an island has dropped, with the goal of their research being to find out and explain why this is so, giving consideration to ecosystem changes and various other factors.
15Evaluation of ExplanationConstructor 2 Sandoval and Reiser analysed collaborative student interactionsStudents guided to consider many concepts through explanation guides which may have been overlookedPrompting sub-questions served to anchor investigation and guided further explorationExplanationConstructor provided structure to investigationStill allowed children to form own representations and guide and monitor own progressSandoval and Reiser analysed collaborative student interactions, and described the importance of several aspects of ExplanationConstructor that could help improve learning.For instance, through the software providing structure to the problem for the children in the form of prompt and question type explanation guides, and with the children then having to generate their own sub-questions based on these, it was found that they were in the process forced to consider concepts that they otherwise may not have. These subquestions were found to then serve as an anchor to guide explanation and exploration of further issues. Applied to the original scaffolding concept that Jess described earlier, this analysis of ExplanationConstructor demonstrates how the software attempts to improve learning in children by scaffolding the task to provide structure to their investigation, whilst at the same time still allowing them to construct their own representations to guide and monitor their investigation.
16Evaluation of ExplanationConstructor 5 Sandoval and Reiser’s analysis demonstrates how BGuILE can improve learningObservational research is effective at uncovering observable benefits to the learning processHowever, need evaluation in terms of measurable domain-level learning gainsAlso, need comparisons to groups not using softwareWithout these, difficult to say how much BGuILE improves learningSandoval and Reiser’s analysis of ExplanationConstructor therefore demonstrates how BGuILE software can be used to help improve children’s learning. However, though this type of observational research is effective in uncovering some of the learning benefits that can be facilitated in children through using the software, without studies evaluating the software in terms of measurable domain-level learning gains, it is very difficult to say how much it improves learning.
17Case Study 2: EcolabOur second case study is Ecolab
18Developed by the (Human Centred Technology Group at the University of Sussex).Interactive learning environment that helps children aged years learn about food webs and chains and was based on the concept of the ZPDFlexible environment in the form of a simulated ecology laboratoryThe animals and plants that the child selects are put into this simulation and can be viewed from different perspectivesThe Ecolab Software was developed by the IDEAS Lab (Human Centred Technology Group at the University of Sussex). It is an interactive learning environment that helps children aged years learn about food webs and chains and was based on the concept of the ZPDIt provides a flexible environment in the form of a simulated ecology laboratoryThe animals and plants that the child selects are put into this simulation and can be viewed from different perspectives
19World ViewWorld view shows a picture of the organisms
20Energy ViewEnergy view illustrates each organism in terms of their energy as a block graph;
21Web Viewweb view provides a diagrammatic representation of the organisms and the links between them , similar to a food chain/ web diagram from a text book. They’re only on level one here but on higher levels there would be food webs
22From eat/eaten by to food webs Four phases of difficultyFrom eat/eaten by to food websThere are also 4 phases of difficulty going from a simple eat/eaten by relationship to food chains to food webs. The level of abstraction in terms of the terminology is also gradually increased. E.g. Thrush eats snail. Omnivore eats herbivore or secondary consumer eating primary consumerIncreasingly abstract terminology
23The elements of adjustable assistance to the system comprise: Interpretation of the ZPD necessary to allow the operationalisation necessary for the construction of a design framework.The elements of adjustable assistance to the system comprise:Zone of Available Assistance (ZAA) applicable to that system.The elements of this ZAA which meet the needs of a particular learner at a particular time comprise the Zone of Proximal Adjustment (ZPA) which system needs to make for learner.An interpretation of the ZPD was necessary to allow the operationalisation necessary for the construction of a design framework.The elements of adjustable assistance to the system comprise the Zone of Available Assistance (ZAA) applicable to that system. The elements of this ZAA which meet the needs of a particular learner at a particular time comprise the Zone of Proximal Adjustment (ZPA) which the system needs to make for that learner.
24Does Ecolab Improve Learning? Designed using a participatory design approach and evaluated in classroom setting (Luckin & du Boulay, 1999).Three variations on the Ecolab themeVygotskian Instructional system (VIS),Woodsian Inspired System (WIS)No Instructional- intervention System (NIS).Aim of the VIS system is to maximise the ZAA and refine the ZPA so that it is line with the ZPD.WIS and NIS implement different variations and combinations of the features in the design framework with the purpose of evaluating VIS.Each acts as a different type of instructional partner for the child.Design framework implemented within VIS, WIS and NIS evaluated to explore the hypothesis that the VIS variation of Ecolab will offer the most appropriate assistance and improve learningEcolab was designed using a participatory design approach and has been evaluated in a classroom setting (Luckin & du Boulay, 1999).To enable evaluation three variations on the Ecolab theme exist within the software: the Vygotskian Instructional system (VIS), the Woodsian Inspired System (WIS) and the No Instructional- intervention System (NIS).The aim of the VIS system is to maximise the ZAA and refine the ZPA so that it is line with the ZPD. WIS and NIS implement different variation and combinations of the features in the design framework with the purpose of evaluating VIS. The ways in which collaborative support is offered by each of the systems means that they each act as a different type of instructional partner for the child.The design frame work implemented within VIS, WIS and NIS was evaluated to explore the hypothesis that the VIS variation of Ecolab will offer the most appropriate assistance.
25Written and verbal pre-test 30 children, aged 10-11, three different ability groups based on school assessments, three experimental groups matched for abilityWritten and verbal pre-testUsed Ecolab individually for 60 mins over 2 sessions in normal classroom environmentPost-test30 children, aged 10-11, three different ability groups based on school assessments. Then put into three groups matched for ability, each of which used a different system variation.Prior to using the software they had a written and verbal pre-test. They then used Ecolab individually for a total of 60 mins over 2 sessions in their normal classroom environment. Then same post-test. The results of the pre and post test were used to assess the efficacy of the three variations of the software.
26The evaluation looked at whether the different variation had been more or less effective in increasing the child’s learning gains in terms of understanding of the feeding relationships that exist in a food web.All groups showed learning gains, with the most consistent learning gain across all three abilities coming from the VIS, although it did not produce the highest learning gains in each of the categories.
27Problems No control group No comparison with other teaching methods such as a classroom discussion or reading from a text book.Small numbers of children in each groupNo clear cut result in terms of abilities suggesting that Ecolab is not yet totally effective at modelling the ZPD for all ability levelsNo control group, or comparison with other teaching methods such as a lesson on it or reading from a text book.Small numbers of children in each groupNo clear cut result in terms of abilities suggesting that Ecolab is not yet effective totally effective at modelling the ZPD for all ability levels
28Critique 1BGuILE and Ecolab evaluation indicates that scaffolding technology can improve learningBGuILE: increased articulation and critical considerationEcolab: ability to consider different perspectives and experience more complex terminologyHowever, evaluations insufficient in helping to conclude that learning gains will occur in every child in every classroomThis is because evaluations lack…..The examples of BGuILE and Ecolab taken together therefore would indicate that technologies centred on scaffolding theory can improve children’s learning. Evaluation of BGuILE for instance has shown that by using the software, children can reap advantages in their learning such as an increased opportunity to articulate their thoughts and critically consider aspects of scientific exploration that they otherwise may not have had the chance to do.Evaluation of Ecolab on the other hand has shown that …….However, despite this, it is nonetheless the case that these evaluations are insufficient in helping us to conclude that learning gains will occur through using these technologies for every child in every classroom, because what these and evaluations of many other learning-based technologies tend to lack is:
29Critique 2A non-technology control group to compare the group who have experience learning gains toLong term measurement of learning gains to see whether effects are quantifiable over timeUnbiased, independent evaluation carried out by people other than designers- A control group to compare the group who have experienced learning gains to- Comparison of the technology in terms of learning gains with other non-technical learning devices- Varied methods of evaluation, to ascertain the different facets of learning gains- Long term measurement of learning gains and whether the technology’s effects are lasting and are quantifiable over time- Unbiased, independent evaluation; often technologies are assessed by the people that design them, which can lead to researcher bias.
30Conclusion 1Can conclude that technologies such as BGuILE and Ecolab do improve learning, though it is difficult to say how muchHowever, cannot generalise this assumption across all technologies and all childrenEven the most perfectly designed technology may not improve learning in every child in every instanceMany contextually specific issues to consider when ascertaining whether a technology can improve learning….Therefore, in considering all of these factors, we can tentatively conclude that technologies such as BGuILE and Ecolab do improve children’s learning, although we can’t say how much.However, even if we do accept this, it is not possible to generalise this assumption across all technologies and all children, because it cannot be assumed that even the most perfectly designed technology will improve learning for every single individual in every instance. This is because there are many contextually specific issues that come into play when attempting to ascertain whether a technology can improve children’s learning.
31Conclusion 2 Technologies must be tailored to classroom curriculum Technology must meet specific needs and objectives of curriculumThrough this, can improve learning in ways relevant to children’s needsProper curricular activities must be implemented to allow the technology to be applied correctlyThis will allow technology to be maximally effective in improving learningFirstly, despite how well they are designed and the benefits they purport to offer, technologies to be effective in improving learning must be tailored to the specific classroom curriculum, so that specific learning needs and objectives are met through the technology. If this is not the case, then learning technologies are not improving children’s learning in a way relevant to their needs. Following on from this, proper curricular activities surrounding the tool must be developed so that the opportunity exists for the technology to be applied in its correctly intended way, to maximise its effectiveness in improving learning. If a tool is misapplied in the classroom, then it follows logically that it will not be effective at improving learning.
32Conclusion 3In broader sense, must consider that technologies, learners and teachers work together as a systemCannot consider the effectiveness of technology aloneChildren have own learning attitudes and expectationsTechnology alone will not change these – desire to learn must be fostered by classroom cultureTechnology such as BGuILE and Ecolab create opportunities for learningHowever, no guarantee that children will capitalise on them!However, in a much more broader sense, the most important thing to note about technologies to improve learning is that learners, tools and teachers work together as a system. Therefore, it is impossible to consider the ability of technologies to improve learning alone without considering the other aspects of the system.For instance, children have their own attitudes and expectations toward learning, and tools will not force a child to want to learn or consider certain aspects of learning; this inherent desire must be fostered by the classroom culture. Learning technologies, as demonstrated by the BGuILE and Ecolab examples, can create excellent opportunities on paper for children to improve their learning, but whether the children feel compelled to capitalise on these depends on the practices established in the classroom.
33Conclusion 4Teachers also vital to the effectiveness of technology in improving learningTechnology activities alone mean very littleTeachers must capitalise on what is learned through giving real meaning and context beyond the computer screenMust facilitate classroom discourse and discussion to bring what is learned to lifeEffectiveness of technology therefore depends on how teachers cultivate their use and guide the studentsTeachers are also another vital component in the system that we must consider when looking at whether technology can improve learning. On their own, the activities carried out on technologies such as BGuILE and Ecolab mean very little. Teachers must therefore be able to capitalise on what is learned through the use of technology by guiding classroom discourse to discuss what has been discovered in order to give it real meaning and context beyond the computer screen. The effectiveness of learning technologies therefore depends on how teachers cultivate their use and guide the students in using them.
34Conclusion 5Demonstrates that technologies are unable to improve learning aloneRequired are:Good teachersGood classroomsEnthusiastic children (created by the above)Curriculum specific tasks to apply technology toWithout these factors technology alone will not improve learningWhat this therefore demonstrates is that technologies are unable to improve learning alone; required are good teachers, a good classroom learning environment and children who are enthusiastic to learn, with curriculum-specific tasks for the technology to be applied to. Without these factors, the best-designed technology offering endless purported benefits will not be effective in improving learning.
35Bringing it all together….. Using technology can improve learning in childrenCurrent evaluations inadequate at saying how muchHowever, technology should not be viewed as the be-all and end-all of learning anywayTechnologies provide support in right context to influence direction and practice of learnersTechnology is not a replacement for a teacher, but a tool they can useShould be used to shape children’s engagement with tasks and add another dimension‘One tool alone cannot build a house’However, can make a vital, valid and unique contributionTherefore, it is safe to say that technologies can improve learning in children. However, they should not be viewed as the be all and end all for learning. Technologies are able to provide support in the right context to help influence the direction and practice of learners. They should not be viewed as a replacement for teachers, rather a tool for them to shape children’s engagement with tasks and add another context to their work. One tool alone cannot build a house, but it can make a vital, valid and unique contribution along with many other things.
36ReferencesLuckin, R., du Boulay, B. (1999). Ecolab: The Development and Evaluation of a Vygotskian Design Framework. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education. 10, ppLuckin, R. (2003). Between the Lines: Documenting the Multiple Dimensions of Computer-Supported Collaborations. Computers and Education. 41, pp 379 – 396.Pea, R. D. (2004a). The social and technological dimensions of “scaffolding” and related theoretical concepts for learning, education and human activity. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(3),Puntambekar, S. & Hubscher, R. (2005). Tools for scaffolding students in a complex learning environment: what have we gained what have we missed? Educational Psychologist, 40, 1, 1-12.Quintana, C., & Fishman, B. (2006, April). Supporting science learning and teaching with software-based scaffolding. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.Reiser, B. J. (2002). Why Scaffolding Should Sometimes Make Tasks More Difficult for Learners. Proceedings of CSCL 2002.
37References Cont.Reiser, B. J. (2004). Scaffolding complex learning: The mechanisms of structuring and problematizing student work. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 13(3),Sandoval, W.A., & Reiser, B.J. (2004). Explanation-driven enquiry: Integrating conceptual and epistemic scaffolds for scientific inquiry. Science Education, 88,Sharma, D. & Hannafin, M. J. (2007). Scaffolding in Technology Enhanced Learning Environments. Interactive Learning Environments. 15 (1), pp 27 – 46.Smith, B. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2005). Explaining behavior through observational investigation and theory articulation. Journal of the Learning Sciences: 14(3),Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Wood, D., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The Role of Tutoring in Problem Solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 17, pp