Thinking about new learning environments

Year: 1999

Author: Taylor, Peter

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The move to embrace new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in all educational sectors invites scrutiny of the consequences of their use. However, the bulk of the literature in the area of ICTs tends to be limited to advocacy for, or description of, their application. As a response to Mark Windschitl's (1998) call for research which is more detailed and critical, this paper maps several sets of literature which might inform such research. These literatures address: post-modern views of culture, organizations and power; views of educational management, including the specification of curricula; social constructivist views of learning; and, ecological views of communities and resources. The purpose is to provide a conceptual basis for an examination of the intersection of the affordances of ICT-rich learning environments, pedagogy and learning, in ways which allow both critical scrutiny and informed speculation on emergent possibilities for effective practices.

The paper acknowledges that ICTs are being introduced into quite complex environments. These are outcomes of a multitude of prior investments, many of which militate against fundamental change in educational practices, as is well documented in the educational reform literature. Given such contexts, thinking about new learning environments needs to draw on multiple perspectives in order to engage effectively with these inherent complexities. Moreover, it needs to be informed by scholarship that is as contemporary as the new technologies if we are to move beyond applications of these technologies that merely extend the shelf life or the reach of old pedagogies.