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Colloquium - Brophy

Integrating Computers into Generative Learning Environments
Sean Brophy
Vanderbilt University

One could view a classroom as an "intelligent system" consisting of learners, instructors and computer tools. All the agents of this "intelligent system" possess the potential of contributing new knowledge during the instructional process and interact with all the other agents. Creating environments that promote learning requires maximizing the potential contribution of all the agents in the system to share and organize new knowledge with the other agents. The design challenge consists of defining authentic and meaningful contexts for learning that engage students and helps sustain their inquiry. In classroom environments, computer based instructional materials need to be carefully integrated into the instructional process.

This presentation will discuss issues related to classroom learning and how to integrate computer technology with instruction to create a richer context for learning. As an example of this idea, a computer environment called QUEST (Questioning Environment to Support Thinking) illustrates how computers can help young learners solve challenging problems while building an understanding of the ideas embedded in the problems. Research with this program using high achieving fifth and sixth grade students suggest that students can support their own learning process even when the challenging problem contains concepts outside their current knowledge base.

The problem solving activity engages students so they are more motivated to use available resources to define their own solution. Finally, beginning instruction with computer supported problem solving activities leads to less teacher intervention during both the computer activity and subsequent laboratory experiments targeting similar concepts. Therefore, the QUEST environment contributes to the classroom environment by helping students take charge of their own learning as they generate their own goals during problem solving.

Refreshments will be served immediately before the talk at 3:30pm.
Hosted by Dirk Grunwald.

Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
May 5, 2012 (14:13)