Computer Tools for Learning: Concept Maps, Mindtools, Computer Programming

Computer Tools for Learning: Concept Maps, Mindtools, Computer Programming

Gary A. Berg (California State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-103-2.ch007
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I come to the subject of this book from a very different path than most of those thinking about the use of computers in educational environments. My formal education focused originally on literature and film studies, and film production at the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. I became professionally involved in educational administration through the backdoor of continuing education focused first on the entertainment industry, and then more broadly. It was after this combined experience of studying film and television and working in adult education that I began research in education and earned a doctorate in the field of higher education from Claremont Graduate University, with a special emphasis on distance learning. I hope that the different point of view I have developed from my eclectic background gives me the ability to make something of a unique contribution to this evolving new field. What follows is an attempt to spark a discussion that will lead to answers to the question of what are the most effective techniques for the design of computer learning environments. This is not a how-to book—we are too early in the evolutionary process of the medium to give such specific guidance. Rather, my intention is to offer some theories to elevate the thinking bout computers in education. Because the subject is interdisciplinary, combining science with the humanities, the theoretical discussion draws from abroad range of disciplines: psychology, educational theory, film criticism, and computer science. The book looks at the notion of computer as medium and what such an idea might mean for education. I suggest that the understanding of computers as a medium may be a key to re-envisioning educational technology. Oren (1995) argues that understanding computers as a medium means enlarging human-computer interaction (HCI) research to include issues such as the psychology of media, evolution of genre and form, and the societal implications of media, all of which are discussed here. Computers began to be used in educational environments much later than film, and I would have to agree with others who claim that the use of computers instructionally is still quite unsophisticated.

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