Is there a Doctor in the House?

Doc Talks- Take 2

Posted on: July 24, 2009

What is the potential of leveraging current digital technology, such as e-text, to assist junior high students with reading difficulty in aquiring more equitable access to the curriculum by supporting comprehension and extending meaningful learning through embedded supports?

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 1.

When begining to consider this newly revised definition of educational technology and how it connects to my research interest, my first reaction was my research is about facilitating learning.  As indicated in the text, the new definition and the placement of facilitating learning near its beginning clearly indicates “that helping people learn is the primary and essential purpose of educational technology” (p. 1)  The reality in many classrooms today, is that much of the ‘content’ of the curriculum is presented to them in a text format (novel, textbook, notes etc.).  However, in today’s diverse classrooms across Alberta many students have difficulties with reading.  Therefore, one way technology can help people learn is to provide this text-based content in a digital format (such as e-text) that students’ can access in a different way (text-to-speech with embedded supports such as hyperlinks to a visual dictionary for key words).  As I delved deeper into this chapter, things became problematic for me as the authors’ discussed constuctivism in educational technology with regards to facilitating learning.   I began to question whether e-text supports actually fits with this.  The author’s clarification that facilitating learning is “learning that is controlled and owned by learners” (p. 41), helped reaffirm for me how supported e-text does connect with facilitating learning.

The next logical connection for me was improving performance.  It is my hope that supported e-text will remove or reduce some of the barriers to learning a student with reading difficulties has in today’s classrooms and in turn lead to more student success.  A potential benefit of supported e-text would be because students’ energies are not monoploized by decoding the text their interaction with the e-text “can lead to deeper levels of understanding” (p. 50) of the content.  A comparison mentioned in the text was Weigel’s ‘surface learning’ and ‘deep learning’.  Once again, I began to question my research interests’ connection to this component of the definition.  Does supported e-text really “promote deep learning, learning that is based on rich experience and that can be applied in real world contexts” (p. 76)?  I’m still pondering this one.

My research would also touch on the resources aspect of the new definition because supported e-text would be the digital tool / material students “interact with to facilitate learning and improved performance” (p. 213).  It would be a resource by design; specifically designed for learning purposes.  I am curious if any of the possible embedded supports are better than others.

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1 Response to "Doc Talks- Take 2"

Now that I am back home and catching up on my mail, I came across an interesting article in my Acadia University alumni magazine- Reading in a Digital Age. It’s about a new research project Dr. Cunningham will be working on for the next 7 years with researchers from across the country. If you’re interested you can read the article at
http://www.acadiau.ca/whatsnew/newsrelease/2009/reading_digitalage_mar27.html

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