|The paradigms of e-Education: An analysis of the communication structures in the research on information and communication technology integration in education in the years 2000–2001|
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Very closely related to the first paradigm and the idea of personal computing is the idea of using a computer as a new instrument in learning. The idea of using computers for something other than office routines and scientific calculations and programming emerged parallel with other applications of computers in other fields of society. Computer assisted (or aided) learning (CAL) became affordable enough for ordinary schools and triggered the new paradigm. Schools could now buy CAL software and the teachers were not forced to program the applications themselves anymore. Than mean that also those teachers who were not interested computers as such, could use the computer in their teaching. First the old idea of programmed learning based on Skinner’s learning theories was the way learning was assisted by computer, which is somehow still present in this paradigm. It may not be a surprise that the computer software programming language logic and structure was exactly the same (if – then – else…).
According to Kozma (2000), this traditional instructional design approach still exists despite its narrow and old-fashioned touchstones in behaviorist learning psychology. This research supports this observation but claims that this approach is still very strong in the field. Of course the approach has changed, but it is still recognizable in epistemic and interest rhetoric especially. In fact, the Skinnerian learning theories have been replaced by more contemporary theories in the frame of references, but the research orientation and design has remained the same. The research follows mainly the realistic epistemologies, testing and searching statistical correlations between variables.
With the advent of graphical interface and multimedia features of computers, the idea of computer-assisted learning has had new forms and ideas. Also open-ended programs have been introduced to schools in different subjects and the range of subjects has grown when new multimedia features were added to computers. Multimedia computing is seen as a very powerful aid for learning. Learning can be supported with a computer or with multimedia or assisted by an intelligent agent. This paradigm is still very strong in current research in using, and sometimes emphasizing, the computer as a tool and nothing more than a tool in learning. The design of educational software, tools and agents based on cognitive psychology is the main learning approach nowadays in this paradigm, and forms the mainstream of the research on instructional technology. We can see also similarities with some of the systemic branches of social constructivist learning theories like, activity theory (see Engeström 1997, Russel 1997) in emphasizing the (intelligent) tools and resources.
This paradigm could be called also the “IT paradigm” based on the triggering innovation of information technology as a new industry and the idea of using information technology and multimedia widely in different fields of education as a tool. Due to the highly instrumental interest and very rational and realist nature of the paradigm, this paradigm could also be called “cognition engineering”. The social and cultural issues in education are considered to be aspects or dimensions, which have to be considered in design the system or the software tool to make it more adaptive for varying croups of end users. Despite of the fact that modern ICT has many new qualities like networking and communication, the main interest of this research approach has not changed: it still aims to increase the human performance and learning by means of technology. Only the instruments have changed during the time.
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