Computer Information Systems in Education/Chapter 1/Section 2 -- What theories & perspectives influence the use of IS in learning settings?

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What Theories & Perspectives Influence the use of IS in Learning Settings?

There are various theories and perspectives that influence the use of Information Systems in education. This section will look at a learning theory that relates to using Information Systems and two different perspectives that is used. First, let's define Information System (IS) and education. Information System is a collection of hardware, software, data, people, and procedures that work together to produce quality information. (Shelly, Cashman, & Vermaat 2007). Education is the process of acquiring knowledge. Where do people acquire this knowledge? They learn from other people such as parents, teachers and employers. There are many forms of materials that are used in education. Traditional materials would be books and manuals used for learning tools. Today is a different story. Educators are turning to computers to assist with learning. (Shelly, Cashman, & Vermaat 2007). This new way of learning is spreading fast. Not only can you use IS inside the classroom to accompany face to face learning but you can solely offer classes online. It has been said that more than 70 percent of colleges offer some type of distance learning classes (Shelly, Cashman, & Vermaat 2007). Those are the two definitions. Now let's see what learning theories can be applied to utilizing IS in learning settings.

Depending on the situation, students will do most of the work themselves, provided the instructor has laid out their requirements for a class or assignment. How will students learn from a system that requires them to experience the learning process on their own? One way to answer that is Constructivism theory. That basic principle of Constructivism theory is, "Knowledge is not transmitted: it is constructed." This theory is then divided into three, Individual Constructivism, Social Constructivism , and Contextualism . (Smith & Ragan 2005)

The first is Individual Constructivism, there are three assumptions to go along with it. First, knowledge is constructed from experience. Based on life and school experiences, an individual will determine what he/she has learned during that experience. Second, learning results from a personal interpretation of knowledge. This is when the student processes the information and has knowledge of the subject just studied. Finally, learning is an active process in which meaning is developed on the basis of experience. It continues to be an ongoing process.

Another example is Social Constructivism. One assumption is that learning is collaborative with meaning negotiated from multiple perspectives. When talking about IS used in learning situations, this one hits the nail on the head. (Smith & Ragan 2005) Some educators interpret this assumption to mean that all learning should occur in collaborative work groups. An alternate perspective of the social constructivism tenet might be that whether learning occurs in work groups, in a group discussion, or in an individual interaction with a text, there is some sense of collaboration in that the individuals involved are working toward agreement, or at least understanding. Such constructivists might suggest that there is collaboration in negotiating meaning as learners interact individually with the text of a book or video because the learner is wholeheartedly engaged in trying to interpret the author's perspective and compare it to his own. As well, the author's efforts, although displaced in time, are equally a struggle to find a common ground with readers. (Smith & Ragan 2005) With all of these various interactions, it makes sense that IS can be used in a classroom full of students. The students could then interact face to face or interact via using discussion forums set up in their course. Also, it allows a student to learn and operate on their own deciding what they view as the mission of the assignment from the instructor.

The last example is Contextualism. We've talked about the individual and the social aspects of constructivism, now it's time to see how it would be applied in its context. There are two key assumptions. The first is that learning should happen in real world situations and testing should be included with the lesson. It is said that, "Contextualists recommend presenting problems in situations that are realistic to learners and common to everyday applications of knowledge" (Smith & Ragan 2005). Next, it is assumed that it is better to assess the learner by evaluating them in the learning activity, not as a separate event (Smith and Ragan p. 20).

Earlier we briefly mentioned perspectives. A student's perspective also has to do with the students individual experience with the students skilled lesson. Not all students have the same skill level when it has to deal with distance learning.Tutorials help students brush up their skills and allows the instructor to be able reinforce Below are two scenarios that coincide with our learning theory and information systems. Let's take a look.

Scenario 1:

As students in my program prepare for their Board Exams, they use a test simulator to assist in their preparation. The test simulator covers all of the subject areas that will be covered on the board exam. The students can use the simulator as many times as needed. The students take a test on the simulator and at the end of the test; it will give the score to the exam. After the score is given, students are able to print/save the questions that they answered incorrectly. The results do not a correct answer(s). Students must research for the correct answers. They are better able to construct their learning to help them prepare for the board exam because they are relying on prior knowledge.

Scenario 2:

Students in my program are required to take their chapter tests through the institutions learning platform. Testing through the leaning platform serves two purposes: (1) the learning platform enables the instructor the opportunity to test students in a variety of ways from multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer etc. (2) and it allows for students to gain an understanding of how online testing works. The goal of each test is get the students to construct their own learning process by recalling and applying information that is learned through a course. Also, each test builds off of the previous test which in turn allows for students to build on the information that has already been learned. At the end each course, the goal is to have a well established foundation in the subject matter for each student.

Additional Bits of Information:

Need more information on information systems and how to incorporate them into learning practices? Check out the links below.

 Flexible Learning: [1]
 HRM Guide: [2]
 Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education: [3]

Concept Map: