Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Investigating the Use of Learning Objects for Secondary School Mathematics

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Investigating the Use of Learning Objects for Secondary School Mathematics

Article excerpt

Introduction

Learning objects are operationally defined in this study as interactive web-based tools that support the learning of specific concepts by enhancing, amplifying, and/or guiding the cognitive processes of learners. While the design, development, reuse, and accessibility of learning objects has been examined in some detail for almost 10 years (Kay & Knaack, 2007a, 2007b), research on the effectiveness and usefulness of learning objects is limited, particularly in the area of secondary school mathematics (Kay & Knaack, 2007c; Lopez-Morteo & Lopez, 2007).

It is argued that learning objects help address a number of obstacles secondary school teachers face with respect to using technology including not having enough time, difficulties in learning new software, creating effective integration strategies, and accessibility (e.g. Agostinho, Bennett, Lockyer, & Harper, 2004; Duval, Hodgins, Rehak, & Robson, 2004; Gadanidis, Gadanidis, & Schindler, 2003; Kay& Knaack, 2007c; Rehak & Mason, 2003). In addition, comprehensive, theoretically-based, reliable, and valid evaluation tools for assessing learning objects are scarce (Kay& Knaack, in press). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of learning objects in secondary school mathematics classrooms by using a comprehensive set of measures to assess teaching strategies, teacher attitudes, student attitudes, and learning performance.

Literature Review

Overview

Until recently, learning objects were solely used in higher education; consequently the majority of research has taken place in this domain (Haughey & Muirhead, 2005; Kay & Knaack, in press). Increased use of learning objects in the K-12 domain (e.g., Brush & Saye, 2001; Clarke & Bowe, 2006a, 2006b; Kay & Knaack, 2005; Liu & Bera, 2005; Lopez-Morteo & Lopez, 2007; Nurmi & Jaakkola, 2006) demands that the focus of investigation shift, at least in part, to the needs of middle and secondary school students. The current literature review will focus on three key areas: the potential of learning objects as an effective educational tool in secondary school classrooms, the proposed pedagogical benefits of learning objects, and research on the use of learning objects in K-12 mathematics classrooms to date.

Potential for Using Learning Objects in Secondary School

Without doubt, efforts to increase the use of technology in K-12 classrooms have been substantial in the past 10 years (Compton & Harwood, 2003; McRobbie, Ginns, & Stein, 2000; Plante & Beattie, 2004; US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2002). In spite of this push, a number of researchers have argued that technology has had a minor and even negative impact on student learning (e.g., Cuban, 2001; Roberston, 2003; Russell, Bebell, O'Dwyer, & O'Connor, 2003; Waxman, Connell, & Gray, 2002). Part of the problem stems from a considerable list of obstacles that have prevented successful implementation.

Educators face a number of challenges when attempting to use technology in their classrooms including the amount of time required (Eifler, Greene, & Carroll, 2001; Wepner, Ziomek, & Tao, 2003), having to work with limited technological skills (Eifler et al., 2001; Strudler, Archambault, Bendixen, Anderson, & Weiss, 2003; Thompson, Schmidt, & Davis, 2003), fear of technology (Bullock, 2004; Doering, Hughes, & Huffman., 2003), difficulty in understanding how to integrate technology into teaching (Cuban, 2001), and insufficient access (Bartlett, 2002; Brush et al., 2003; Russell et al., 2003).

Learning objects offer several promising solutions to the challenges that everyday teachers face with respect to using technology. First and foremost, learning objects are easy to use. Teachers, even those who have limited computer-based skills, do not need to devote considerable blocks of time toward understanding how to use these straightforward tools (Gadanidis, et al. …

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