Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

An Investigation of the Incorporation of Information and Communication Technology and Thinking Skills with Year 1 and 2 Students

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

An Investigation of the Incorporation of Information and Communication Technology and Thinking Skills with Year 1 and 2 Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

Learning through the integration of thinking processes with technology is fundamental for curriculum planning in schools (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria), 2007). Much of the current interest in teaching thinking skills has been prompted by technological changes in the nature of work and the implications of these changes for student learning. In the information economies of the twenty-first century, the emphasis is on the acquisition of

transferable thinking skills rather than content knowledge or task-specific skills. They [students] particularly require an ability to learn how to learn new things since accelerating technological change is making old skills (and knowledge) redundant and generating needs for new skills (and knowledge). (Wegerif, 2002, p. 3)

This paper reports on one aspect of a larger study investigating the effects of integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into children's thinking and learning processes. It describes an inquiry-based approach to learning (Murdoch, 2004), the introduction of ICT skills and thinking processes (de Bono, 1992) in a Catholic primary classroom in metropolitan Melbourne. The research design incorporated case study (Stake, 1995, 2000) and practitioner action research (Cherry, 1998; Kemmis & McTaggart, 1990, 2004) approaches. The results of this study document four observable stages exhibited by the children as they learned to use ICT within the classroom environment. The stages identified are: Discovering and Engaging; Demonstrating; Analysing; and Synthesising. The implications for teachers incorporating ICT in order to enhance students' learning are illustrated through teaching and learning activities relevant to each of these four stages of students' experiential learning. In the following sections of this paper, active learning is first defined, followed by a discussion of ICT in the classroom. The current investigation is then described in terms of theoretical background, research cycle findings, and implications. The paper concludes with a comment on the children's learning experiences within this study, and recommendations for further research.

Active learning

Basic human learning can occur in a variety of ways such as by rote, mimicry, the unquestioning acceptance of facts and the experimental and experiential exploration of different environments--but learning has the capacity to be a far richer experience, with consequences that are more complex. One can learn in a potentially transformative way that endows our experiences with meaning and which empowers us to perceive differently, to value and appreciate differently and to adapt and create new ways of behaving. Atken (1999) asks the critical question, 'What is the nature and value of learning?', and this question needs to be addressed when researching education for learning.

Learning should not be about passive reception of information but about active participation in the process of meaning-construction. 'Learners do not just take in and store up given information. They make tentative interpretations of experience and go on to elaborate and test interpretations' (Perkins, 1992, p. 49). Active learning entails student interaction, connections among schools, collaboration between teachers and students, the involvement of teachers as facilitators, and an emphasis on technology as a tool for learning. Incorporating teaching and learning strategies with ICT capabilities in order to enhance thinking skills becomes the real challenge for schools.

Many educationalists strive to support the development of students as active, independent and reflective learners by providing a wide range of teaching strategies and learning opportunities to enhance thinking skills. In the past this has not necessarily occurred. If learning, in a formal setting, is more concerned with the acquisition of content knowledge about the world, than question such as 'how' and 'why', then students' independent thinking skills may not be enhanced. …

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