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Learning and the E-Generation by Lee Farrington-Flint, Jean D. M. Underwood

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Chapter Two How do People Learn?

Introduction

One of the most divisive issues within education concerns the role of digital technologies in supporting the teaching and learning. There is no doubt that online technologies have unique properties that have the potential to support learning (see Garrison & Anderson, 2003). It could be argued that the greatest affordance of the web, for example, is that it has created a myriad of ways to communicate and interact with others, including family, friends and peers. Anderson (2004) suggests that these interactions are formed through a range of online tools including wikis, blogs, social networking sites, podcasts, and syndicated content.

There is some support showing that digital technologies may have a sustained effect on promoting an individual’s cognitive understanding, through enhancing their thinking, learning and problem-solving skills. However, despite quite compelling evidence of strong positive attitudinal and motivational changes to learning (Hativa, 1989; Underwood & Dillon, 2011) many studies have failed to show any benefits of using these digital technologies. This lack of supporting evidence of the effectiveness of these costly tools can be taken at face value but many would argue that it is the nature of the questions that researchers are asking that has resulted in these disappointing data (Underwood & Dillon, 2004; Jenkinson, 2009). There is a need to move beyond measuring the mechanistic or procedural aspects of ...

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