|Inquiry-based learning can be
effectively enhanced with appropriate infusion of technology. Starting places for infusion
center on various dimensions of learning.
1. Distributive Learning
New technologies give students direct access to the
growing distribution of knowledge across diverse resources, and they allow students to
take active responsibility for knowledge production in the classroom. This provides
students media through which to construct and share their ideas about these materials in a
whole range of public learning contexts.
2. Authentic Inquiry
Archives of electronic primary source materials (on both
the WWW and CD-ROM) enable novice learners to engage in authentic research tasks and
complex inquiry assignments that would either be impractical or impossible without the
vast storage and retrieval capabilities of information technologies.
3. Dialogic Learning
Interactive technologies - email, electronic discussion
lists, teleconferencing - provide powerful cross-disciplinary spaces for student dialogue.
They also encourage participation at the student's own pace and perhaps in smaller, less
threatening communities than the entire class meeting face-to-face. Finally, they offer
supplemental spaces for students to engage in challenging cultural issues, or to converse
with students and professionals (at a distance) who represent a wider diversity of
viewpoints than they have in their class or on their own campus.
4. Constructive Learning
Hypertext authoring programs and the WWW help students
engage in constructive learning as they build projects over the semester. Through
electronic linking, students make interdisciplinary and intellectual connections concrete
- they can actually trace paths from one writing space to another.
5. Public Accountability
Students who think of their work and ideas as public tend
to take their assignments more seriously and engage in issues more thoroughly. Whether
students are asked to write their ideas to a class electronic discussion list, or asked to
mount their constructive projects on the WWW, information technologies highlight the
public nature of participation.
6. Critical Thinking
Multimedia and hypertext packages present information and
pose questions to students through multiple kinds of literacy and evocative
juxtapositions, thus promoting an environment for reflective reading and critical
thinking. These technologies offer students multiple paths that require strategic choices
in light of methodological issues. They also facilitate group process and revision,
providing flexible writing spaces for both reproducing knowledge and reflecting on it.
Discipline specific technologies (GPS, imaging software, etc.) further enhance critical
thinking in these areas.