Educational Foundations Supporting IT in Higher Education

Educational Foundations Supporting IT in Higher Education

Robert D. Tennyson (University of Minnesota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4233-1.ch001


Technology has always been welcomed in higher education as a means to improve student learning. However, technology application in higher education is usually driven by the technology fad itself without support from educational foundations in learning. This chapter argues that successful employment of IT in higher education requires a careful consideration of basic foundations in learning philosophy and learning. These foundations provide both the theoretical and empirical support to sustain technology as an integral component of technology in higher education learning. In addition to the historical and contemporary comments on educational foundations, examples are provided to assist the reader in implementing the suggestion to strengthen learning by the promise of technology to improve learning in higher education.
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From Philosophy To Id Models

The focus of this chapter is on educational foundations; the goal is to help the reader understand the foundational relationships between learning philosophy, learning theory, and instructional theory. The purpose is to set the underlying principles by which IT instructional design process decisions are made (see Figure 1). Two examples are presented to show how a philosophy of learning provides the underlying structure to the theme of a learning environment.

Figure 1.

Educational foundations: learning philosophy to ID models

Example 1: Behavioral-Centered Education

An example of applying educational foundations to controlling a society is Skinner’s utopian community (and schooling system) presented in his book, Walden Two (Skinner, 1948). Skinner used Plato’s philosophy as written in The Republic, and the behavioral paradigm as the basis for his society: A community that was controlled by a behaviorist-based philosophy and learning theory. Whereas Plato saw government and society controlled by philosopher kings, Skinner envisioned a perfect society controlled by psychologist kings. The underlying philosophies of Plato and Skinner’s society are that certain individuals are endowed with unique cognitive abilities that separate them from the norm. These few people have the insights necessary to govern wisely. In contrast to the autocratic philosophies of Plato and Skinner is the assumption made by cognitive psychologists that humans do think wisely and if well educated can govern themselves.

Example 2: Learner-Centered Education

In terms of educational philosophy, cognitive psychologists borrow heavily from the works of John Dewey. They view education as a direct learner-centered endeavor in which both knowledge acquisition and experience are necessary elements of learning. This self-regulation of learning is even further extended towards almost absolute learner control by constructivism. The novice instructional designer should finish this chapter with a firm foundation in the basic principles and concepts offered by philosophy and psychology. The role of learning philosophy is to provide a practical explanation of learning that the instructional designer can employ in their ID process decision-making. The defined statement should clearly indicate what is learned by or from the environment in terms of both nurture and society and what the learner brings to the learning environment in terms of both nature and self.

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