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Learning Interchange
National Writing Institute

Saturday, May 25, 2024
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.

Copyright 1997-2003
Career Connection to Teaching with Technology
USDOE Technology Innovation Challenge Grant
Marshall Ransom, Project Manager
All rights reserved.

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