Essay on Learning Technologies in Adult Education

Essay on Learning Technologies in Adult Education

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Learning Technologies in Adult Education


Any tool “designed to extend a learner’s capacity for effective action and that requires skill and certain strategies to use efficiently” is a learning technology (Burge 2001, p. 146). A well-structured face-to-face group discussion, a pencil, and print materials fit this definition as do newer tools such as web-based conferencing (ibid.). One of the greatest myths surrounding learning technologies is related to what they are. Because of the term technology, it is frequently believed that learning technologies are instructional devices that make use of computers, the Internet, or some other type of electronic technology such as video and television.

Newer learning technologies are changing the shape of the landscape in adult education, however. Distance education is burgeoning and web-based training opportunities abound. In many circles, learning technologies have been adopted uncritically. This Myths and Realities explores beliefs about the newer learning technologies that are being used to extend and enhance adult learning and education.

Learning or Technology?

For many, the term technology “invites a tools-first emphasis” (Olgren 2000, p. 7) when in fact the real issue is how to choose and use any technology in a way that will enhance learning (Ginsburg 1999; Wagner 2001). The question should not be whether to use technology simply because it is available but rather whether it can be used to create learning opportunities that were impossible or impractical without it; a related question is how new learning technologies can be used appropriately in conjunction with traditional teaching and learning tools (Ginsburg 1999; Phillips and Kelly 2000). New technologies have an im...


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...n Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference: Proceedings of SITE 2000, edited by D. A. Willis, J. D. Price, and J. Willis. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education; and Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, 2000. (ED 444 484)

Wilson, B., and Lowry, M. “Constructivist Learning on the Web.” In The Strategic Use of Learning Technologies. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 88, edited by E. J. Burge, pp. 79-88. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Wonacott, M. E. Web-Based Training and Constructivism. InBrief: Fact Facts for Policy and Practice No. 2. Columbus: National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education, the Ohio State University, 2000. (ED 447 257) http://www.nccte.org/publications/infosynthesis/in-brief/inbrief02-webtraining.pdf

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