Thursday, May 29, 2008

Choosing & using educational software: A teachers' guide

Squires, D., & McDougall, A. (1994). Choosing & using educational software: A teachers' guide. London: Falmer.

Chapter 6. Frameworks for studying educational software

1. Categorization (Classification by Application Type)

Two types
  • Content-free (generic): in terms of the tasks it can perform (e.g. word, spreadsheets)
  • Subject-specific: used in the teaching and learning of specific topics (e.g., science simulations, foreign language practice programs, arithmetic drill programs)
  • criteria implicit, no clear rationale
  • sensitive (increasing range requires constant revision & updating)
  • some integrated software don't fall neatly into any one classification
2. Role (Classification by Educational Role)

Three modes
  • Tutor: a surrogate teacher (e.g., drill & practice exercises, adaptive tutorial programs)
  • Tool: useful capability programed into the computer (e.g., statistical analysis, word, graphics packages, data logging, info handling)
  • Tutee: learners "teach" the computer through expressing their ideas and solutions to problems (e.g., Logo)
  • Founded on the premise that the scope and nature of the software environment defines educational possibilities
  • Focus on the software rather than the teacher and learner
  • Ignoring important issues of teaching and learning
3. Rationale (Classification by Educational Rationale)

Four paradigms
  • Instructional: mastery of content (sequencing, presentation, feedback reinforcement)
  • Revelatory: learning by discovery & developing an intuitive feel for the field of study. student is the prime focus (e.g., simulation)
  • Conjectural: the articulation and manipulation of ideas and hypothesis testing. Emphasis: development of understanding through the active construction of knowledge (e.g., Logo)
  • Emancipatory: exploits the capacity of the computer to process large amounts of data dand perform many operations very quickly, to save students from spending time on laborious tasks that are necessary but incidental to their learning
  • Tendency to regard software as belonging exclusively to one paradigm
  • No consideration of the learning process
Chapter 7-10. A Perspectives Interactions Paradigm for studying Educational Software

The focus shall shift from attributes of the software itself (e.g., what does this package do? How does this program run?) to the use of software to enhance teaching and learning (e.g., what kinds of learning experiences might be set up or assisted by this package? What approaches to teaching fit this package?)

Three major "actors": the student(s), the teacher, and the designer
  • Teacher-student link: direct 2-way physical and social interactions initiated or sponsored by the software; students more actively engaged in thinking and learning; teacher roles - Resource provider, manager, coach, researcher, facilitator
  • Designer-student link: how student relate to and use software (cognitive development and human-computer interaction); learning theories: behaviorism (stimulus-response mechanism, e.g., Skinner, 1938) vs constructivism (learning as a process of accommodation and assimilation in which learners modify their internal cognitive structures through experience, e.g., Piaget); Three aspects of software design: learner control, complexity, challenge
    • What are the levels of learner control, task complexity, and challenge offered by the package?
    • How effective is the design in affording learners the intended level of control/
    • How are learners helped to cope with the complexity of the software?
    • What methods and approaches are used to provide learners with a challenge?
  • Designer-teacher link: curriculum and associated pedagogies (curriculum development and approaches to teaching); relationship of the software to the curriculum (implicit, explicit, absent)
    • Identify implicit curriculum aims
    • Match explicit and implicit curriculum aims to perceived specific curriculum requirements
    • Realize the possibilities of 'subverting' explicit and implicit curriculum aims to specific curriculum requirements
    • Realize the educational possibilities of the use of software which initially has no explicit or implicit curriculum aims (e.g., The Geometric Supposer shifts from seeking answers to encouraging inquiry and investigation)
Chapter 11. Choosing and Using Educational Software

  • Teacher/student
    • Selection
      • Implied role(s) of the teacher in the classroom
      • Expectations of the nature of classroom interactions
      • Customization: pedagogy
    • Evaluation
      • Actual role(s) of the teacher in the classroom
      • Observed nature of classroom interactions
      • Customization: pedagogy
  • Designer/student
    • Selection
      • Implicit/explicit/absent theories of learning
      • User (student) access features
    • Evaluation
      • Appropriateness and effectiveness of theories of learning
      • Ease and extent of user (student) access
  • Designer/teacher
    • Selection
      • Implicit/explicit/absent curriculum aims: content and process
      • Customization: content
    • Evaluation
      • Customization: content

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