13.0170 computer-mediated learning

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 22:42:29 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 170.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 02 Sep 1999 22:37:56 +0100
From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Metacognition and Computer-Mediated Learning


I am wondering how many of our colleagues be they involved primarily
to formal pedagogy or caught on the spot in one of those infernal (er,
informal) consultations, have not heard some variation of the following:

Why is the machine/program not working (i.e. doing what it should)?

It struck me recently while dealing with a particularly frustrated and
demanding student that the constant repetition of the question of
"why" might be a symptom. The work of Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich
(How to Talk So Kids Can Learn) lead me to interpret the rather
why-style (and its accompanying body language and tone) as an
indicator of projected guilt similar to the parent at wits end sternly
addressing a child with an exasperated "why won't you behave!"

Sherry Turkle (The Second Self) has offered wonderful descriptions of
how in a user's cognitive development a computer may come to be
anthropomorphized in very creative ways. However, a quick revisit of
Turkle's book reminds me that the users in her study are seeking to
program the computer to make it talk like a human being. Far cry from
the prosopopeic agony of the muttered why.

I am wondering if any of Humanist's readers and contributors have had
any success in getting students to model what-questions. That is to begin
describing what is going on in the use of a particular piece of
equipment. And move from there to collaborative learning where
descriptions get swapped and refined.

I am planning on refining my opening statement to classes to the
effect that there are no stupid questions if and only if any question
can be followed up by a question about the question.

Francois Lachance
"no shame no blame"

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Humanist Discussion Group Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/> <http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/> =========================================================================