Educational Technology LO22474 -was: Intro -- Helen Mennitz

Fri, 20 Aug 1999 12:31:11 +530

Replying to LO22441

From: Helen Dorothea Mennitz <>

> I am a TAFE teacher. I have for the past four years co-ordinated
> Distance Education and Computer Managed Learning for accounting courses
> in Tasmania.
> I am undertaking a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Education in order to
> improve my teaching skills. A particularly important part of my studies,
> in view of my position is on-line learning.

Dear HELEN and other interested in on-line learning:

I hope you will find the following thoughts of mine on educational
technology relevant to your quest:

Educational Technology

K. Lewin had presented the idea that pedagogy could involve a
reorganisation of the "life-space" of a child so as to set in motion a
preferred kind of "circular causal relation between self and environment,
zirkuläre Rück-koppelung" (Lewin, 1935). A somewhat similar idea is
expressed in contemporary educational parlance by referring to
"multi-perspectival learning conversation," "multivocal discourse," and
"life-long learning." The contemporary literature on educational
technology visualises an Internet-based distance education process that
implements such learning conversations between interested people who might
act as learners and/or tutors (Boyd, 1997). The possible role of AI agents
(called pedagogical agents) in such educational processes has been the
focus of recent deliberations in this area (see the proceedings of an
international conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, 1997, at dings.html

This literature has identified several tasks for the emerging educational
technology: (i) Arranging good matches in the cyberspace to connect
learners to appropriate tutors (or resources), (ii) ensuring fair exchange
and public recognition for somebody's helpfulness, (iii) providing
meaningful interface between learners and web-based intelligent
courseware, and (iv) monitoring the quality of the actual

"Presentation agents" have been visualised that would make web- based
educational resources available to learners in an interesting and
personalised way and provide feedback on the extent of learning (André,
Rist, and Müller, 1997). It has been proposed that technological
developments such as AI "agents," "webcentric mediation via downloaded
applets with "cookie feedback," and "virtual currency exchange via public
key encryption," can be used together to fulfil the requirements of the
type of educational conversations necessary for contemporary distance
education (Boyd, 1997).

One feature of the discussions in this area is the characterisation of an
"agent" as something that enables someone (a learner) to use some
educational resource more effectively. The discussion also seems to
suggest ways by which the tutors (or authors of the educational resource,
i.e., the producers of the resource) could make their products more usable
by a variety of users. The web- based educational technologies allow a
mutually facilitating interaction among the users and the producers of a
resource (i.e., an educational resource); such technologies also
constitute a focus for the task of replicating and improving such
interaction. These technologies also make it possible to detach the roles
of learner and tutor from the specific entities (e.g., persons) playing
those roles at any given instance. This type of detachment creates
mobility among the roles. Such mobility allows for a variety of users and
producers, thus increasing the possibility of new resources emerging.

The above discussion helps in recognising the importance of designing
suitable tools and interfaces to help the producers of a resource make it
more usable (for a variety of users) and to help the users of the resource
to influence the types of resource being produced. This makes the form of
interaction between the producers and the users mutually facilitating. The
literature also highlights the importance of ensuring mobility across the
roles of producership and usership. In the educational context, such
mobility would allow forms of interaction in which a learner can become a
tutor and vice versa, in the process bringing forth new educational

[I can provide the references if required.]


Prof. D. P. Dash
Xavier Institute of Management
Bhubaneswar 751013

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