What is this for?

Workspace for the course "Technology for Educators".

Course review assignment 1 (June 25th, 2009)

Collaborate as a group to respond to the following review questions for "Teaching with Technology" by P. Norton and K. Wiburg. Your group responses/edits are due on June 30th. We will discuss these questions in class too.

1. How are N-Geners expectations about learning changing? (Ch. 1)
2. Can you talk about the characteristics of efficiency learning versus constructivist learning? (Ch. 2)
3. Can you name some models based on 'efficiency' principles of learning? (Ch 2)
4. What are Integrated Learning Systems and on what principles are they built? (Ch. 2)
5. What six questions (and answers) must be at the heart of any modern design? (Ch. 2, 3)

6. What are the FACTS of design? (Ch. 3)
7. What do we mean by knowledge of structure and process? Can you give specific examples with respect to a discipline?( Ch. 4)
8. Go to the FACT Web-Based Design Tool and study one or two design examples. Are the six questions reflected in the examples? Explain how. (Ch. 4)
9. What are information rearranging and information extending processes and what kind of technological tools can support them? Give examples. (Ch. 5)
10. What is anchored instruction and supervised learning? Can you give examples?

Useful links

Wikia: Follow this link to explore "Wikia".
Tutorial: Follow this link for a quick tutorial on how to edit a wiki.
Scratchpad Wiki Labs: Follow this link to create a mini-wiki.
Wikis Kate Reber's presentation on wikis.
Technology of focus: Wikis Kate Reber's written version of her presentation on Wikis.

Educational uses of wikis

Education world

Wikis for teachers
Using wikis in education
Wiki in a K-12 classroom
Wikis in Classroom
Proposed lesson plan using Wikipedia by Kate Reber

Brilliant failures
Using wikis

Lab activities and homework tasks

  1. Follow the tutorial link above. Execute the recommended steps to familiarize yourselves with wiki editing. The tutorial gives you some space to make toy edits.
  2. Explore the wikis posted on "Wikia". Can you find any that interest you? You may want to start with the highlights. If you have found one that you like, consider making your own contribution. Email me the url of the wiki you have edited.
  3. Assignment, A.1: Explore the sites given under "Educational uses of wikis". Identify a few that you think are exceptionally promising. Why do you think they hold promise in the classroom?
  4. Assignment, A.2: Explore the teachers' blogs Brilliant failures/Using wikis discussing their successes and failures using wikis in the classroom. What lessons have you learned from the experiences of your colleagues?
  5. Assignment, A.3: Using "Scratchpad" create your own wiki on a topic of your interest.

Wiki discussion as a course review

What do the following notions refer to ?

Memory : Human memory is an invisible and intangible phenomenon. There have been many metaphors used to describe it. For example: "brush strokes" on a canvas, and memory as a reference book or a library (or may be computer database). Memory is stored as a series of networks between concepts.

Information extending process : When we are encounteres with a new information, we resort to an induction process. We try to anaylize and try to find similarities and differences between the new information and the previous experiences. That is how the new information is distinguished from the already established information. another process is to do selective combination; i.e., we try to tie the new information to old experiences and try to find a meaning. Jonassen (1996) suggests that information-extending process includes elaborate skills like modifying, extending, and shifting categories, synthesizing skills like summarizing, hypothesizing, and planning, and imagining skills like predicting and speculating.

Information rearranging Process : The way we sort out the different experiences encountered in life helps us in developing our knowledge base. As soon as we are encountered with new information, we compare it to knowledge base and based on the similarities and differences, we categorize it and create a new 'portflio'. That is, in short, information rearranging process through problem solving. We can use spreadsheets to rearrange information.

Metacognition : Metacognition is the monitoring and guiding of one's own thought processes; it is mind observing and correcting itself. This is tyhe only way a learner can learn and improve the knowledge base.

How are Conceptual change, Constructivism and Technology related ?

Constructivism is basically a theory -- based on observation and scientific study -- about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know. Humans interact with new information to the degree that the information is comprehensible, coherent, and plausible according to their existing conceptual models. The cognitive process of adapting and restructuring these theories is conceptual change (Vosniadou, 1999). Conceptual change is a means for theory building. It is rooted in theories of constructivism. Conceptual change has become one of the most common conceptions of meaningful learning because it treats learning as an intentional, dynamic and constructive process.

Therefore, the entire process through which a learner constructs a new model of theory is constructivism, and the resulting new knowledge demonstrates a conceptual change.

Constructivism ...

• emphasizes learning and not teaching

• encourages and accepts learner autonomy and initiative

• sees learners as creatures of will and purpose

• thinks of learning as a process

• encourages learner inquiry

• acknowledges the critical role of experience in learning

• nurtures learners natural curiosity

• takes the learner's mental model into account

• emphasizes performance and understanding when assessing learning

• bases itself on the principles of the cognitive theory

• makes extensive use of cognitive terminology such as predict, create and analyze

• considers how the student learns

• encourages learners to engage in dialogue with other students and the teacher

• supports co-operative learning

• involves learners in real world situations

• emphasizes the context in which learning takes place

• considers the beliefs and attitudes of the learner

• provides learners the opportunity to construct new knowledge and understanding from authentic experience

Source :

In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure she understands the students' preexisting conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and then build on them.

Model building is a natural cognitive phenomenon. When encountering unknown phenomena, humans naturally begin to construct personal theories (models) about those phenomena. Technology can be used to model domain knowledge. A variety of Mindtools (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, expert systems, teachable agents, simulation technologies, knowledge-building tools like hypermedia, etc.) can be utilized to model a variety of phenomena that can bring about conceptual change.

How do we learn ?

Traditional views : suggest that the content has to be delivered by the teacher and the students should be the passive recipients, just absorbing the material. Traditional approaches to learning are linear and reflect the structure of books as the central learning tool. In such setting, most textbooks are written to be read from beginning to end and educational researchers promoted the use of learning strategies, such as note taking, summarizing, personalizing, or generalizing examples, and analogies, for helping learners to better comprehend what they are studying. Traditional methods of teaching also fed the information depriving the learner “of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.” In this view, one-size-fits-all kind of approach resulted in mass education, which was actually a product of the industrial economy. In an industrialized society, it made sense to assume that a large proportion of students at any given grade level would “tune in” and be able to absorb the information. As a result the process of learning has always been perceived as torture, where the role of the teachers was to act as transmitters and that of the students was to be the receivers. Also, according to the traditional views, life used to be divided into the school years and the work years.

Modern views : Today’s learners seek a shift away from teaching toward learning partnerships and learning cultures. They want to learn by doing, experiencing, inventing, and creating rather than consuming prepackaged instruction. They assess, analyze and synthesize information. So, the mode of learning has shifted from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered structure. The teachers are acting as facilitators instead of being transmitters of information. As a result, learning has become more fun. This does not suggest that the teachers play lesser role. Teachers remain critical to the creation and structuring of the learning experience. The best teachers are the ones who can design the curriculum in such a way that keeps the students entertained. Entertainment builds enjoyment, motivation, and responsibility for learning. Now-a-days, access to information is more interactive and sequential. Students navigate back and forth between TV, books, video games, and the Internet. They typically participate in several activities at once. Today’s students expect to be treated as individuals – to have highly customized learning experiences based on their background, talent, and cognitive and interpersonal styles. They understand that in a world of constant and rapid change with knowledge doubling annually, learning is a lifelong process. “They are not motivated by the prospect of finishing school. Rather, they are motivated by a challenge to master or a problem to solve.”

A lot of emphasis has been given on proper utilization of classroom design and the creation of learning environment in recent days. Educators who plan to design learning experiences for today’s students must design for the whole of learning. They must recognize that much of learning is social, that learning is not for later life but for living, and that students are not vessels to be filled but constructors of their knowledge. They must create environments that promote problem solving, cooperation, communication, critical thinking, and learning how to learn. Today the learners are using the new electronic technologies to help create a culture of learning, where the learner enjoys enhanced responsibility, interactivity, and connections with others.

What is knowledge ?

Knowledge is defined ( in Oxford English Dictionary) variously as (i) facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association, and reasoning. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.

Source :

What does it mean to know about structures and processes of disciplines ?

The structure of a discipline is defined by the central theories or operations that explain specific cases and form organizing principles for the study of that discipline. It involves actively grasping key principles or concepts. “Grasping the structure of a subject is understanding it in a way that permits many other things to be related to it meaningfully” (Brunner, 1960, p. 43). Technology-aided teaching facilitates the learning about the structures of disciplines because the students get introduced to the concepts. Then they can further evaluate and analyze that information to determine the relevance.

“At least three claims can be made for emphasizing the role of structure over content in teaching disciplinary knowledge. First, knowledge about the structures of a discipline makes it more understandable. …..Second, if content knowledge is related in some way to the structural elements of a discipline, it will be more effectively remembered. That is why cramming for a multiple-choice exam so often results in impermanent knowledge. Third, knowledge organized around the structure of a discipline facilitates transfer of learning.”

Doing the discipline : Certain systems or processes are unique to a discipline. These disciplinary processes “…transcend particular goals, particular times and particular societies.” Every discipline has a set of processes its experts use to make sense of experience. For example, historians examine historical data, compare and contrast accounts of events, refer to additional sources to validate interpretations, and draw connection between events and their impacts. Scientists conduct systematic research projects, draw conclusions from data, and report their findings in scientific journals and at professional conferences. In short, the implementation of these processes as a participant in a discipline is doing the discipline. As a learner and a teacher, however, this meaning goes beyond that. Designing opportunities for developing knowledge that promotes students’ abilities to use the discipline-specific processes transcends remembering the outcomes of their use by others. The disciplines have their greatest relevancy to students’ lives as habits of thought and strategies for making sense of experience. Only teaching the disciplines as “ways to think” about experience has more lasting consequences than teaching “about” the disciplines.

Community of learners :

Group learning:

- Collaboration allows students with differing levels or areas of expertise assist each other, and the design that facilitates this kind of learning opportunities is called collaborative learning. In this type of learning, “there is an opportunity for the more experienced and skilled students to demonstrate to less experienced and skilled students how they think and learn. In collaborative learning relationships, more experienced students become advisors or consultants for less experienced students. This form of group learning is different from cooperative learning because it assumes some difference in skills and does not assume that individuals work together continuously (Kafai & Harel, 1991).”

- Cooperation helps to build collective knowledge and to use that emerging expertise to solve a problem. Cooperative learning refers to learning that brings students with similar expertise together. It “rests on the assumption that students working as a team toward a common goal learn better that students working by themselves (Ladestro, 1989).The ideal is to create an environment in which students want each other to succeed and work to motivate and teach each other in order to accomplish shared goals. Students are required to present their ideas to each other and to work through differences of opinion. They are actively involved in thinking about course content and using that content to accomplish the group goal. Typically, cooperative groups are heterogeneous or mixed with respect to ability, gender, and ethnic group.”

- Democracy in education, like democracy itself, does not happen by chance. It results from explicit attempts by educators to design learning opportunities that bring democracy to life. “The design of opportunities to learn the democratic way of life focuses on the creation of structures and processes by which school life is carried out and the creation of a curriculum that gives students democratic experiences (Apple & Beane, 1995).” “If people are to secure and maintain democratic way of life, they must have opportunities tolearn what the way of life means and how it might be led (Dewey, 1916).” Important foundations for democratic communities include :

• The open flow of ideas, regardless of their popularity

• Faith in the individual and collective capacity of people to create possibilities for resolving problems

• The use of critical reflection and analysis to evaluate ideas and policies

• Concern for the welfare of others and the “common good”

• Concern for the dignity and rights of individuals

• An understanding that democracy is not so much an ideal as a set of values that guide our life as a people; and

• The organization of social institutions to promote and extend the democratic way of life

- Virtual communities : “The notion of classrooms as communities of learners is no longer restricted to the confines of the four walls of the classroom. Communities of learners can now be virtual communities. The concept of virtual communities first introduced by Rheingold (1993) refers to social aggregations that emerge on the Internet when enough people carry on public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. People in virtual communities use words and images on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, find friends, and create a little art and a lot of idle talk. People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but they leave their bodies behind.” (Norton and Wiburg, p. 211)

Community of learners :

A community of learners depends on community of kinship, place, and mind. Together the three kinds of community represent webs of meaning that link diverse groups of people by creating among them a sense of belonging and a common identity as human beings who are capable of affection and caring for others as well as themselves.

A classroom that fosters a community of learners is built on four main qualities : an atmosphere of individual responsibility coupled with communal sharing, respect among students, between students, and teachers and among members of the extended community of experts, a community of discourse that honors constructive discussion, questioning.

- implication for role of teachers

• Teachers have to be aware of the needs of the students from different socio-economic and ethnic groups. They need to acquire the skills to identify the knowledge base of every students and customize the curriculum and learning experience to meet the individual needs.

• “Teachers make decisions about whether and when they want students to pursue individualistic, competitive, or cooperative goals. Collaborative and cooperative small-group learning strategies support cooperative goals and are an important component of designing learning opportunities for students that promote the development of community.” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 217)

• Teachers also have to be able to utilize technology in a way that will ensure that learning can shift from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered process. This way the students will become active participants, they will feel engaged, and motivated. As a result of this hands-on approach, the retention of information will be better. This process will generate enough curiosity, and inspiration that will help them to become lifelong problem solvers. In short, teachers have to take on a role of a facilitator in this process. This is crucial because they will provide the basic guidance based on which the learning will take place.

• Educators who seek to design opportunities for students to learn, must recognize the role of personal, local, and cultural forces in shaping the learning the community.

- new views on the relation between cognition and society

• "The traditional view of cognition rests on a view of intelligence framed by three basic characteristics. First, intelligence is a single, general problem-solving ability generalized from setting to setting. Second, intelligence is located inside the head of each individual. Third, the intelligence of each individual is relatively stable from one situation and setting to another. This view, however, is being challenged. Hatch and Gardner (1993) suggest that factors or forces at three different levels – personal, local, and cultural – contribute to create cognition in the classroom. They envision the personal, local, and cultural forces at work in any situation as interacting to shape the activity and skills of all learners. Changes in the forces at any one of these levels contribute to changes both in what learners do and in what they are capable of doing.”(Norton & Wiburg, p. 195)

• “Cultural forces are the institutions, practices, and beliefs that transcend particular settings and affect a large number of individuals. Cultural forces have three principal effects on behavior. Those forces influence the kinds of skills people can exhibit, the way those skills are developed, and the purposes to which those skills are directed……such differences in classroom activities contribute to differences in artistic development (Gardner, 1989) as well as differences in academic achievement (Stevenson, Lee & Sigler, 1986).” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 195)

• “Local forces focus on those resources and people who directly affect the behavior of an individual within a specific local setting such as the home, the classroom, and the workplace. When the role of local forces in cognition is acknowledged, it becomes apparent that little is accomplished by individuals who work in isolation. Instead, individuals depend on a wide variety of tools, people, and other resources to help carry out their activities. These ‘facts of the environment’ function to both shape and support the kinds of activities and skills in which individuals can engage. At this level, it is proper to think of intelligence as shared by individuals and all the human and non-human resources they use.” ( Norton & Wiburg, p. 196)

• “The attributes and experiences students bring with them to learning are the personal forces. While traditional models of intelligence and learning have focused on general problem-solving ability, they have failed take into account the wide variation in people’s abilities and the vast array of individual differences that influence the development of those abilities.” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 196)

• Intelligence “is enmeshed in all of a person’s activities and embedded in the settings and cultures in which those activities are carried out. Cultural, local, and personal forces are interdependent. An individual’s intelligences, interests, and concerns are formed in interactions with peers, family members, and teachers, constrained by available materials, and influenced by cultural values and expectation (Hatch & Gardner, 1993)” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 196)

- socio-economic issues and diversity

• “Tracking remains an implicit part of the curriculum and, in general, students in high-achievement classes use computers quite differently from those in low achievement classes. Levy, Navon, and Shapira (1991) found that in those schools where the majority of students are of lower social economic status (SES), drill and practice programs comprised the highest percentage of computing assignments. Drouyn-Marrero (1989) found that Anglo students were given significantly more access to computers in schools than Hispanic and African American students. Dutton, Rogers, and Jun (1987) surveyed the uses of computers with poor students and compared them with those provided to wealthier students and concluded that wealthier students direct computers while poor students were directed by it.” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 198)

• “Today’s classrooms are a microcosm of an ever-increasing world of diversity. Yet, the curriculum used in most schools is based on materials and instructional strategies developed in the first half of the twentieth century when nearly three-fourths of all students were European Americans and the country’s human resource needs were the product of an industrial rather than an information age. This curriculum is inappropriate in both content and activities for today’s and tomorrow’s student populations and is often in direct conflict with many students’ cultures and community lives.” (Norton & Wiburg , p. 216)

• “All children need to see people from diverse cultures valued in the materials they work with in schools. A new kind of curriculum is needed – a curriculum grounded in an instructional approach that considers students’ diverse languages and cultures as valuable sources of knowledge. One way to design opportunities for learning in classrooms of diverse students is to focus on universal themes : survival, justice, conflict resolution, friendship, or betrayal.” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 217)

How does technology support the new approaches to learning ?

• “Making wise choices about the use of technology depends on recognizing the ways in which it facilitates the things humans can do. The tools made available to members of a community provide opportunities for shaping the world in which they live. “ (Norton & Wiburg , p.67)

• “Every technology has properties – affordances – that make some activities easier and some activities more difficult and some activities impossible. Each technology creates a mind-set, a way of thinking about it and the activities to which it is relevant.” (Norton & Wiburg, p.67)

• “Recently, with the advent of the capacity for designers to create technology-based instructional materials, designers have formalized the design process ‘ADDIE’, integrating elements from all the previous efficiency models. ADDIE represents a systematic approach to Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The ADDIE process begins with a detailed analysis of who the learners are, what they already know, what their learning characteristics are, what they need or want to learn, why they need it, and in what environment the learning will be applied. Once the analysis is complete, design and development begin. Design and development depend on careful and systematic articulation of the objects that will govern instruction, what skills are to be developed, what resources and strategies will be used, how content will be sequenced, and what techniques will be used to ascertain that objectives have been met. The next step, implementation, involves teaching learners how to make the best use of learning materials, presenting classroom instruction, and/or coordinating and managing instruction either locally or from a distance. The final step, evaluation, is the assessment of both teachers and learners in order to form a basis for improvement and further development of instruction (Fardouly, 1998).” (Norton & Wiburg, p. 24)

• Different technologies can be used as tools to promote cooperative, collaborative, democratic and virtual learning. The contents can be customized, keeping the factors of individuality, community, socio-economic class and diversity in mind.

Give specific examples of technology that supports :

Cooperative learning : KeyPal®, SWoRD® (peer review / feedback)

Collaborative learning : Telementoring

Democratic learning : Blogging

"Doing the disciplines" : Mindtools (e.g., spreadsheets, databases, expert systems, teachable agents, simulation technologies, knowledge-building tools like hypermedia, Semantica® etc.)

Note :

It is interesting to observe that much of the cooperative, collaborative and democratic learning is facilitated through virtual learning communities.


Conflict between new approaches to learning and old methods of assessment. Why is there a conflict? How can it be resolved? What are some of the practical issues raised by new methods of assessment?

Some of the new theories of learning focus greatly on authentic activities which are project based in the real world. The problem arises with traditional assessment. Traditional assessment is pencil and paper type of test. Students are asked to recall information and write essays. This is how almost all standardized test work. The major conflict that comes out of the differences in theory is students are not performing well on traditional assessments if teachers are teaching using authentic activities.

One very real issue raised by using authentic activities in the class could be that students would not be prepared for traditional tests that have very high stakes, ie SATs, GREs, PSSAs. If students do not have the practice or skills of how to master tests, they may do poorly. On the flip side, if teachers only teach students how to test, they are missing out on many opportunities of learning. There are amazing results when students feel that task at hand will benefit them in the "real world".

The resolution is to get rid of NCLB!!! Since that is not a reality, teachers must find a balance. Hopefully, authentic activities will teach student to be better thinkers and therefore, they will perform on standardized tests. But, still teachers need to balance both. The mix of traditional testing and new testing should help prepare students for the world they are about to enter.

Some ideas presented in Norton and Wiburg about ideas of assessment include electronic portfolios. Electronic portfolios would allow students to store their writing on a data base.

Put your questions and responses here:

Massey's answers

What does it mean to put the problem at the center?

It means creating educational activities, lessons, curriculum around real world problems. Now, that is relevancy.

What is problem based learning?

This is a view that sees education as part of living your life instead of preparing for the future. Students learn and work with materials and information as they tackle problems. This is a means of using the information to teach skills. In doing so, you understand the information at a deeper level.

What is anchored instruction?

Anchored instruction is very similar to problem based instruction that students engage with real world problems. It actually address problems that experts deal with every day in their discipline. Physics students actually work on problems that engineers tackle. Novices learn how to work with tools and information in the same manner as experts.

How do Norton and Wiburg Define Literacy?

I really liked this quote: “literacy is the ability to capture the things we think and feel in symbolic form and to profit from and take meaning from the symbolic products others create – to send and receive messages using all of the communications forms valued and available in our culture” (Norton & Wiburg, 2003, p. 137). In this sense, literacy is more than just being able to read a book. It is the ability to take in and make sense of all of the symbols that we encounter, from billboards to discussion boards.

What are the implications of this new view of literacy for teaching?

There are many implications. 1. Teachers have a multitude of means to reach, engage, and foster meaningful learning for the students. We can use a variety of cognitive strategies and discourses. We can also use multiple model tools and teachable agents. Then there is also hypermedia and hypertext that allows students to engage with the information or symbols 2. We also have to work with students and help them develop ways of sorting through all of this information. What should they keep and what should they reject. What should they trust and what should be ignored. Students need the skills to organize information so that they can make informed decisions. It is requires them to present information in an organized and meaningful manner.

What are the FACTS of design proposed by Norton & Wiburg?

In Teaching with Technology, Norton & Wiburg propose a design puzzle principle that has five major pieces at its core called FACTS.

1) Foundations - This is where you ask yourself, "What foundational habits of mind should students be developing over time?"

2) Activities - Teacher provides opportunities for learners to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving.

3) Content - This is the "something" of learning. This can be selected from curriculum, current events in the news, or interests of the students.

4) Tools - Does using this particular tool make the activity easier for the student? Does the tool engage the student and allow them to interact with the content?

5) Systems - How is the assessment done? Some ways to assess for learning is by using rubrics, portfolios, peer critiqes, exhibitions and performance assessment.

To create your own FACTS design, click here [1]and go to Design Challenges puzzle piece, select Design Challenge Three, and explore the FACTS Web-Based Design Tool to create designs of action that can be implemented in classrooms.

About the authors: Priscilla Norton received the Distance Education Best Paper award for her SITE2003 paper, "COPLS*: An Alternative to Traditional Online Course Management Tools," which appeared in Technology and Teacher Education International Conference Annual, Vol. 2003, published by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.


Karin M. Wiburg is currently a full professor in the Curriculum and Instruction department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Since 1993 when she began her work at NMSU she has written and received over $3 million in grants to support the integration of technology with standards-based instruction in schools and teacher education. Her research focus is the design and implementation of technology-mediated learning environments in collaboration with practicing teachers and administrators.


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