Applying Learning Theories to Computer Technology Supported Instruction

Applying Learning Theories to Computer Technology Supported Instruction

Erold K. Bailey (Westfield State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0965-3.ch004
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The purpose of this paper is to share an approach articulating how learning theories can be used to inform computer technology in classroom instruction. This report is based on a course introducing student teachers to using cutting-edge computer technology in their future classrooms. An analysis of three exemplary responses to course assignments revealed that student teachers demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how to apply the behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist theories of learning to computer technology for classroom instruction. This chapter also provides ideas about how students and educators can contribute to the development of educational apps that can support teaching and learning.
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The Case For Learning Theories

To further set the stage for the ideas, applications and insights that will be subsequently covered, a brief rationale is provided for the use of learning theories to inform computer technology in classroom instruction.

The author contends that a major reason for employing learning theories to inform the application of technology in the classroom is their compatibility. As will be discussed and illustrated in greater details later, principles of the major learning theories logically connect with the technical applications of computer software. For example, one principle of the cognitive theory of learning is that learning is made up of the component processes of attention, encoding, storage and retrieval (see the work of Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968). Computer applications engage the human brain using these four components. As will be shown, behaviorism and constructivism comport the same compatibility with computer technology.

Another argument for using learning theories to inform computer technology for instruction is that this synergy has a strong potential to enhance cardinal principles of teaching and learning. In particular, it provides instructional direction and potentially, learner motivation. A fundamental consideration for the teacher when planning and implementing lessons is to formulate, and be guided by clear instructional objectives, which articulate intended learning outcomes (Ormrod, 2011; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Wiggins & McTighe, 2005; Saphier & Gower, 1997; McCown, Driscoll & Roop, 1996). The instructional objectives in turn inform the methods and materials that will accomplish the goals of the lesson. Methods and materials will therefore, involve the learning-theory-informed-technology the teacher selects for supporting the lesson. In terms of learner motivation, because students are so fascinated by computer technology, it is reasonable to assume that such passion will positively influence their engagement with the lesson.

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