Information Technologies: What You See Is Not (Always) What You Get

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The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the gap between the learning potentials afforded by computers and the actual learning from them. A computer's unique potentials emanate from the kinds and varieties of four basic attributes that it offers: information, symbol systems, user activities, and relations with user. These attributes may affect four corresponding cognitions-knowledge structures, internal modes of representation, mental operations, and attitudes and perceptions respectively-by either activating, supplanting, or short-circuiting them. Such effects could be obtained through “low road” learning, which is practice-intensive, leading to near automatic responses, or through “high road” learning, which is thinking-intensive (i.e., nonautomatic operations are mindfully employed). The high road is seen as the more feasible and promising road to conceptual learning of the kind computers can facilitate. However, the extent to which high road learning actually occurs greatly depends on learners' volitional mindfulness, itself partly determined by the nature of the materials encountered and partly by personological, perceptual, and attitudinal factors. It is argued that the opportunity for mapping computers' attributes on their corresponding cognitions, although often available, does not always take place because learners do not always become mindful on their own. A computer's promise does not lie in its attributes alone, unique and powerful as they may be, but in how mindfully learners come to handle them. One important computer attribute-the partner like relationships with learners that it permits - and a number of instructional practices are discussed as possible means to promote and sustain learners' mindfulness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1985
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1985 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The author wishes to acknowledge the support of the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. Requests for reprints should be sent to Gavriel Salomon, School of Education, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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