Towards a pedagogically and educational theoretically grounded computer mediated learning environment
(Poster handout in Campus Futurum - conference 4.3.1999
Esa Pikkarainen, University of Oulu
Pedagogical action is a historically developed mode of human action, which is typical for the modern societies. Its goal is to produce subjects which are capable to human action (=freedom, rationality, reflectivity etc.). With the help of this goal pedagogical action tries to regulate the rapid change of a modern society.
The main problem of the pedagogics or the theory of education, called pedagogical paradox, is the necessity to solve the contradiction between the autonomic self-realization of the learner and the educational influence of the educator. Although these poles seem to be strictly contradictory when seen from non-pedagogical point of view, still the aim of the latter is to promote the former. This basic paradox remains also in the computer mediated and aided education: the learner must have chances to act autonomously but the teacher must have chances to observe this action and intervene when needed.
Respectively the communication relations must in a similar way non-symmetric. As for the social and cultural relations of education the basic problem seems to be the contradiction between on the other hand the socialization of the learner to the prevailing cultural context and on the other hand the pursuit of better future and overcoming the problems of present context by the educator. A very essential point is that these two levels - personal interaction and cultural context - are interconnected in educational action. The educational influence happens often as interference to the socialization effects of the context. The teacher mediates, interprets and represents the context to the learner. So the learning environments are always pre-structured contexts by the educators.
The aforementioned principles of educational action require pedagogical tactfulness from an educator. This means a competence to act in a creative and pedagogically meaningful ways in unique and rapidly changing situations. From the elarning environments this requires great flexibility and controllability.
Technology as ac action theoretical concept can refer to all tools, things, procedures etc. with which actors are trying to pursuit the goals they have set for themselves. The figure 1 presents a view of technology as a "second actor", which offers a detour to a subject when its action has crashed into some obstacle. This second actor brings its own modes of action into the action of the first actor and this affects the original goals.
Figure 1 Technology as a detour (Latour 1993, 5).
After the goal negotiation (translation by Latour) a new composite subject continues the action. Thus all actors can be studied as actornetworks, which are composed from different parts and technologies. For example a teacher who uses computer in teaching is part of a network with this computer, its programs and the programmers of them. The ultimate goal of action is determined in a negotiation between all of them. Pedagogical tact requires good ability to negotiate and especially flexibility from the side of technology - and different technology in different situations.
In this project I try to develop an environment which should suit to academic, university education. Especially I want to avoid binding to massive systems, which require too much resource investments and are too difficult to change and adapt. The technological starting point is WWW-based Internet connectivity supported with iHTML server extension.
- Any browser (any person) compatibility, possibility to use different tools
- Low cost to both students and institutes
- Easy to adapt (a "do yourself" enviroment for teachers)
- Possibility to integrate multitude of different services
Message forum, which is similar to news groups but has also an E-mail support. Discussions are threaded but can also be outlined thematically by a teacher.
File libray: Users can upload and download files, which are listed and outlined according their content and function. Files can be transmitted vie www-connection or E-mail.
Link library: outlined and searchable list of addresses to Internet materials.
Home pages: users have personalized areas where they can for example write drafts and diaries.
Other important services are event calendars, automatic notifications of events, idea outliners, feedback collectors.
Later, if needed, we can plan further services like packing of materials for off line work, automatic information searches, graphical services like chalkboards, mind maps and real time videoclips.
Esa Pikkarainen, KL, (http://cc.oulu.fi/~epikkara)
Benner, D. 1991. Allgemeine Pädagogik. Eine systematisch-problemgeschichtliche Einführung in die Grundstruktur pädagogischen Denkens und Handelns. Weinheim: Juventa.
Latour, B. 1993. On Technical Mediation. (The Messenger Lectures on the Evolution of Civilization in Cornell University, April, 1993.) Lund: Institute of Economic Research, Working Paper Series 9/1993.