New Tools for Learning

By Murray Bourne, 22 Aug 2005

The sub-title for this British book by John Davitt is: "Accelerated Learning Meets ICT" (Network Educational Press, 2005).

The main themes of this book are:

  • The physical learning environment is crucial, and IT tools, if used properly, can enhance these spaces
  • Schools are using outdated factory/office/typing pool models for classrooms
  • The use of IT has been mainly text-based and silent, but this is not appropriate for many learning styles
  • Stress reduces learning and IT can be used to reduce the threats in learning by providing scaffolding and support
  • IT is a great way to store and share resources
  • IT provides new ways for students to make connections (create sound file, image file, video file, web page, etc)
  • Education is largely about sharing of stories - and IT can enhance this.

I totally agree with Davitt when he says that ICT won't transform learning if it is being incorporated into a traditional teaching structure, but it will be maximised if it goes hand in hand with new teaching and learning approaches (p21). There is no point in "pushing" IT approaches onto learning experiences if it is thought of in the same way as a "one-way lecture". It's just as boring as the lecture in this case.

Some quotable gems in this book include:

Learning is the guided reinvention of knowledge (Gordon Wells, 1981)

All learners were born with a natural craving for knowledge. [...] Why should learning not start by material presentation rather than by oral explanation? (Comenius, 1649)

Don't teach me, let me learn (Prashnig, 2002)

The latter part of the book gives practical suggestions on the use of IT for story telling and making connections. Some of these include:

  • Using Audacity & iTunes to make a radiio production
  • Build animations using Flash or Paint Shop Pro
  • Make movies with MovieMaker

Do I sense your stress increasing? ("What me, learn all this stuff? I'm flat out learning PPT and Word!") In response, I would like to finish with a last quote, which applies to instructors as well as students:

Stop implementing technology in our schools - it doesn't work, instead let's redefine literacy and implement that. (Warlick, 2004)

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