Technology Enhanced Learning

Carrie Heeter
Michigan State University
Department of Telecommunication


1. Introduction

Sabelli describes research on technology enhanced learning spanning a range from micro to macro focus, starting with basic brain research and ending with the study of complex systems [13].

Table 1. Research on Learning

Internet2 (I2) promises a services-rich network environment being grown through application demonstration projects and core technology development. The broad education and technology research issues include:

· How can technology enhance learning? (invention, theory, prototyping)

· How do we know what works, and in what contexts? (assessment, pedagogy, revision)

· How do we extend demonstrated concepts in sustainable, scalable ways? (knowledge base, system research, policy)

· How do we extend access to technology to the haves and have nots, to naïve and expert teachers and learners, to individuals with individual differences? (practice)

· Can research on technology enhanced learning research inform general education theories and practice even beyond the technology realm? (theory, knowledge base, practice)

· What are potential unintended consequences of learning technologies and how do we minimize them? (individual, classroom, system, society)

Resta [11] reminds us the job description of most professions have changed dramatically since the beginning of the last millennium, but the job of teacher has changed very little (perhaps until now). Technological implementations increasingly affect both teaching and learning experiences. Technology evolves as a natural part of the technology development process. Software goes through a development cycle from conception to "just barely working" to ongoing refinement. Leifer [8] studies technology effects as a moving target because technology doesnât stay the same.

As director of the Stanford Learning Lab, Leifer studies how small changes in course protocol and technology can have profound effects on learning efficacy and efficiency. His lab treats each online course development project as a research opportunity. Like Leifer, other I2 designers are part of a living laboratory and should remain watchful for possible profound intended and unintended effects of their creations. Detection of effects may begin with anecdotal observation and should move to more formal research and systematic observation when a potentially meaningful possible trend is identified

Some projects start with technology, others with educational pedagogy and others with science (or other subject matter) experts. Although all I2 projects are research projects, not all projects with educational implications include research on their technology-enhanced learning aspects. It would be useful if someone associated with I2 collected and encouraged collection of both anecdotes and hard data across these projects into a pair of online databases.


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