Difference between revisions of "Cognitive Tools"

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{{author|name=Jung Eun Shim and Yue Li |affiliation=The University of Georgia}}
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{{Author|name=Brent Robertson, Laura Elliot, Donna Washington |affiliation=Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia}}
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==Scenario==
 
==Scenario==
Mr. Simon is teaching a biology class for tenth grade students. He introduces the body systems such as digestive, muscular, and cardiovascular. He also provides information about food and nutrition. The students are expected to learn not only the functions and working procedures of the body systems but also how to apply the knowledge in realistic situations. Mr. Simon designed a project for students to approach the goals. Through working on the project, students are encouraged to apply a few computer tools to amplify and reorganize their knowledge.
 
  
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Mario is currently a ninth grader who attends a local area high school. He enjoys most of his classes but his two favorite subjects are his World Studies course and Introduction to Technology. He has discovered both courses to be very informative and decides to combine his interest in both classes into a project for his technology class.
|+ style="caption-side: top; text-align: left;"| '''Table 1.''' ''Main topics of the project''
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|[[Image:ctool1.jpg]] ||[[Image:ctool2.jpg]] ||[[Image:ctool3.jpg]] ||[[Image:ctool4.jpg]] ||[[Image:ctool5.jpg]]
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| Nutrition || Digestive || Muscular || Cardiovascular || Exercise
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Caption: This set of pictures indicates the main topics of Mr. Simon's course. They include the three body systems: Digestive, Muscular and Cardiovascular. They also include Nutrition and Exercise. Digestive, Muscular, Cardiovascular, Nutrition and Exercise pictures are from Microsoft Art Clip.
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When Mr. Simon designed this project, he asked Mr. Edward, a school media specialist, about what computer tools were available for students to use in the school computer lab and how many computers have the tools installed. Mr. Edward also provided information about students' abilities to use the tools. Mr. Simon decided to use Inspiration software and Microsoft Excel to support the class. He had a successful experience in using Inspiration in his class in the past.
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Mr. Singletary, his technology teacher, has given Mario’s class this task: Students are to utilize various kinds of software, websites, and technology for application in a real-life situation.  Mario must design a scenario, which incorporates an authentic event while using technology tools as a means to an end. He will also use technology-based tools to develop a strategy as well as solutions for his scenario.
  
The project has the students working with a client to make an exercise and nutrition plan based on the client's situation and goals. Three clients met with students in their classroom. Students divided into three teams. Each team chose a client and worked for the client as a health consultant team. They went through data collection, setting goals, exploring resources, extracting and reorganizing the needed information. At the end of semester, students were required to present their own solution as an exercise and nutrition plan. Mr. Simon and two biology experts reviewed the plans and provided feedback. The three clients were: John, Chris, and Robert.
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Mario decides his enjoyment of his World Studies course will tie in easily with the technology project. He develops a scenario in which he travels across the world. Mario wants to manage his travel with technology to assist his research as well as document his “experiences”. Mario sees a definite connection between the software he is using in his technology class to the goals he plans to accomplish in order to satisfy the project requirements.
  
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Deciding first to draft a route for his virtual trip, Mario chooses to travel in an easterly direction around the world until he makes his way back to Georgia . Mario uses Inspiration to construct a flow-diagram of the events and procedures in order to aid his planning and implementation of the trip. Mario sees the flow chart being beneficial to organization and believes it will serve also as a visual tool when presenting the project to his classmates.
|+ style="caption-side: top; text-align: left;" | '''Table2.''' ''Three clients''
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! style="text-align:left;"| John
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| [[Image:ctool6.jpg]] || A 14 year-old middle school tennis player who needs to keep a high energy level during games without gaining weight
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! style="text-align:left;"| Chris
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| [[Image:ctool7.jpg]] || A 40-year-old man who would like to lose 20 pounds while maintaining a healthy condition
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|-
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! style="text-align:left;"| Robert
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| [[Image:ctool8.jpg]] || A 63-year-old man who found his blood pressure is higher than the normal and wants suggestions to keep healthy
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Caption: Three figures representing the three clients. The pictures are from Microsoft Art Clip.
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Mario surfs several well-known search engines such as Google, Galileo, Yahoo, and AltaVista to retrieve information on possible travel destinations and points of interest. He also finds a few sites like Dogpile, Webcrawler, Metacrawler, and AllTheWeb that are unfamiliar to him but he finds provides an interesting array of data, facts, figures and statistics.
  
===Class – Using Inspiration Software===
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Mario wants to ensure that each of his artifacts, to the greatest extent possible, demonstrates in detail all that is experienced on this virtual journey. His knowledge base of Microsoft Excel makes organization of essential data simple. Mario uses Excel to calculate approximate mileage of daily travel, determine fuel costs, transportation, food, and lodging expenses as well as other data of interest. Using the information derived from these spreadsheets, Mario creates several charts and graphs to display his daily, weekly and monthly expenditures.
The first team chose Robert, a 63-year-old-man who has high blood pressure, as their client. Students discussed how to make a nutrition and exercise plan to help Robert and what information they needed to make this plan. Team members came up with many ideas and concerns. As Mr. Simon suggested, they used Inspiration software to organize the information. When they listed ideas from each member, they visually arranged them into different groups. Brainstorming resulted in a project management timeline for five sub-tasks. Students then created a concept map showing Robert's state of health and representing their thoughts and information with pictures, images, words and multimedia such as QuickTime movies and MP3 files from Inspiration's library. Students researched the symptoms, causes and treatments of high blood pressure and presented relationships among ideas with the Link tool of Inspiration.
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Mr. Simon directed the first team to use the U.S. Journal of Hypertension website as a guideline to make a suggested nutrition and exercise plan. Mr. Simon told students that they should evaluate the information which they found. One method he suggested for evaluation is finding three extra sources for each piece of information they decided to use.
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Mario elects to create a database to store information such as addresses of locations where he stops and tours as well as contact information of organizations, associations, and business contacts he needs to initiate the travel process. Mario also uses the database to keep information of individuals and groups he encounters along his virtual journey.
  
Students spent time over the next few days collecting information from the client and exploring important concepts such as hypertension, nutrition and exercise. Students organized information about the cause and effect of high blood pressure especially for the client's age group. With drag-and-drop actions and hyperlink functions in Inspiration, students gather research more easily and can see the connectivity between the concepts. This process is sometimes called concept mapping. The example below shows the relationships among hypertension, age, and exercise. Students can connect symbols that represent what they know about the subject so meaning can be constructed, understood, and remembered, both visually and verbally in the concept map.
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In order to learn as much as he can about the various places he “visits”, Mario exchanges information with several individuals through teleconferencing and viewing web-streaming video. Mario’s technology teacher offers a suggestion that Mario go to a website like LearnOutLoud.com to listen to various podcasts on historical, economic, social as well as current newscasts that may be significant to his travel destinations. He uses podcast information to determine in real time what situations or conditions he may encounter on his trip.  For example, after listening to a podcast originating from Tunis, capital of Tunisia , (a country located in northern Africa) Mario hears a forecast warning of hurricane-like weather. He is forced to change his travel plans and moves his arrival closer inland to avoid the storm. This is one of several ways Mario is able to use technology to significantly impact an undertaking like a trip around the world.
[[Image:ctools_1.jpg|frame|center|'''figure 1.''' ''Caption: This image shows an Inspiration chart organizing information the students gathered on Robert.'']]
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===Class – Using Excel Software===
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Mario is interested in having a way to record his thoughts and experiences as he travels virtually across the world. To satisfy this need he constructs a detailed multimedia journal using software called Alpha Journal by the Alpha Realms Company. This software makes easy work of incorporating pictures and documenting comprehensive descriptions of each place he visits.  The journal also includes pertinent information giving descriptions of the people, weather, general environment, and socio-economic conditions. Mario also includes several detailed entries of conversations he has with locals through email contact or online chat rooms.
Mr. Simon reviewed the concept map to ensure it covered the key topics for Robert's nutrition and exercise plan. Mr. Simon also pointed out the topics that were beyond the scope of the course and could be neglected.
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After students collected and organized the information, they were ready to make a nutrition plan. As a part of the nutrition plan, each team listed daily food combinations. They built a simple spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. In the spreadsheet, they listed sets of food combinations and their calories based on set serving portions. With the sum function, they calculated the total calories quickly and precisely. They compared it with the standard suggested for inactive individuals of the target age group. If total calories were not within the recommended daily allowance, students could adjust the combinations by exchanging food or portion size and recalculating the total calories once again.
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By the conclusion of the project, Mario has a large collection of valuable information, which he carefully organizes and synthesizes into an electronic portfolio using Microsoft PowerPoint. He presents and proudly shares specific information of his virtual travels with his classmates. Mario finds using the tools of his Introduction to Technology course has made his virtual journey a project of genuine possibility.
[[Image:ctools_2.jpg|center|frame|'''figure 2.''' ''Caption: The picture shows a sample of a spreadsheet. Students use the spreadsheet to calculate the calories for the food combinations'']]
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After each team created a final report using a word processor and presented the developed plan using slides to the classroom. They included three or four exercises and a suggested a diet for one week for each selected client. Finally, Mr. Simon arranged a physical fitness trainer and a school nutritionist to attend the students' presentations, and they provided feedback on the exercise and diet menus, and talked to the students about how important it is to know the body system and how they can use the this knowledge in real life scenarios.
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==Cognitive Tools==
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==Background==
In the scenario, Mr. Simon built a learning environment using Inspiration and Microsoft Excel. Inspiration is a tool which students rely on to plan, research and complete projects. Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that students can use to analyze, communicate, and manage information. These computer tools are identified as advanced cognitive tools. Mr. Simon used these cognitive tools to amplify students’ thinking and problem solving in the classroom. Students could overcome some of their limitations such as memory, information processing, or problem solving by being supported by the cognitive tools. As a result, his students gained and retained a better understanding of concepts through Inspiration and Excel and demonstrate knowledge, improving their performance across the curriculum.
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Jonassen and Reeves (1996) characterized cognitive tools as "technologies that enhance the cognitive powers of human beings during thinking, problem solving, and learning" (p.693).
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Unlike earlier direct computer instruction models of the 1980’s where technology was used as an Intelligent Tutoring System, Mario’s application of technology is as a cognitive tool. Apart from shifting from a behaviorist to constructivist pedagogy, the paradigm shift whereby students learn “with” as opposed to “from” computers is important in several respects.  
  
Computer-based cognitive tools are tools that are intended to engage and facilitate cognitive processing (Kommers, Jonassen, & Mayes, 1992). Computer can be used to hold and access nearly limitless data and information and can enhance the mental potential of humans. As a result, people are relieved of the heavy burden of memorizing knowledge, and they can save energy for meaningful and effective learning such as critical thinking or reorganizing knowledge.  
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Many tutorials and integrated learning systems have been developed and deployed in the schools. These applications have had only a very small impact on learning in the schools. In the 1980s and 1990s, research focused on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) as a possible way of having a greater impact on learning. The empirical data on ITS shows very little promise for educational purposes.  Even those who have been most involved in research and development targeted at producing "intelligent tutors" have begun to acknowledge the lack of impact they have had on mainstream education (Lajoie & Derry, 1993, p. 37). In the face of the disappointing results of ITS and traditional tutorials, some experts suggest that "...the appropriate role for a computer is not that of a teacher/expert, but rather, that of a mind-extension 'Cognitive Tool'" (Derry & Lajoie, 1993, p. 5).  Those who are interested in cognitive tools have pursued two separate paths. One path was to make use of existing software applications in ways that allowed learners to engage in higher order thinking. The other path has focused on the creation of new software applications that are specifically designed as a cognitive tool. Either way, there was clearly a need for a new direction in technology’s role in education.
  
We define cognitive tools as generalized computer-based tools and learning environments that have been developed to function as intellectual partners of the learner in order to engage in and facilitate meaningful learning. Our definition of cognitive tools is based upon other definitions:
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Secondly, new software tools for educational purposes make it possible for people to perform and learn in far more complex ways than ever before. For example, computer scaffolding enables students to do more advanced activities than they could without such help (Brown, 2000). Mario’s project reflects this research. For example, compiling and calculating the data for approximate miles of daily travel, fuel costs, transportation, food and lodging expenses will be accomplished using a spreadsheet program like Lotus 123 or Microsoft Excel. These programs will chart, graph, compile, and compare all of the data that is entered. Although paper and pencil methods of data analysis will accomplish these goals as well, it will be a much more labor intensive endeavor. The hand made graphs and charts may not have had the same level of professionalism as the computer models. By using a computer spreadsheet and graphing software the level of sophistication of the project was enhanced as well as the learning. Again, the computer can be seen as a cognitive tool to learn “with” as opposed to “from”.
  
"Cognitive tools are amplification and reorganization tools. They amplify the learner’s thinking by transcending the limitations of the mind. The cognitive tools fundamentally restructure how learners think" (Pea, 1985, p. 167-182);
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Finally, in combination with other learner-centered strategies described in this book like Project-based Learning, Problem-based Learning and the Six C’s of Motivation, motivation can be significantly increased using the cognitive tools model. Choice would increase in projects using cognitive tools. For example, even something as straightforward as researching the Southern Pacific countries comes to life with cognitive tools. Looking through an Encyclopedia Britannica wouldn’t generate the same speed and enthusiasm as it would to travel search on travelocity.com. This supports the results found by researchers, “Learners function as designers using the technology as tools for analyzing the world, accessing information, interpreting and organizing their personal knowledge, and representing what they know to others” (Jonassen, 1991, p. 82). In addition, we can see from this research that using cognitive tools supports a constructivist model of learning.  Mario, by using the cognitive tools of the Internet is able to access much more information interactively.  He could do a Google search on Sri Lanka and get all of the historical and political background, and then he could continue on to expedia.com and price hotels in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capitol.
  
Cognitive tools are "any tool that can support aspects of learners’ cognitive processes, for example, taking over some of the more mundane elements of a task to free the learner’s cognitive space for higher order thinking, or allowing learners to generate and test hypotheses in the context of problem solving" (Lajoie, 2000, p. 134);
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Another perspective of Cognitive tools can be seen from Pea (1985). “Cognitive technologies are tools that may be provided by any medium and that help learners transcend the limitations of their minds, such as memory, thinking, or problem solving limitations. The most pervasive cognitive technology is language” (p. 37). In this instance, Mario’s example exemplifies language in terms of the tools he uses to communicate. He is able to connect and set up teleconferencing with individuals while collecting his data for his mock travels.  He is able to report back to his teacher and classmates using multi-media software. These tools improve the language needed to communicate effectively.
  
"Cognitive tools are both mental and computational devices that support, guide, and extend the thinking processes of their users" (Jonassen, 1994, p. 21).
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==Cognitive Tool Affordance==
  
As Jonassen (2000) mentioned, students should use a variety of tools according to phenomena. Using cognitive tools to engage students depends on the problems, the purpose, teachers' background and beliefs, the school system, the available technology, and a myriad of other factors. It is very difficult to predict how well cognitive tools will work in a specific setting. Therefore, teachers must construct their own understanding of what that means, which will depend on their school system (Jonassen, 2006).
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What do cognitive tools offer teachers and students? Many cognitive tools have multiple roles. Their roles allow students to interact with information in order to acquire, synthesize, create, and share new knowledge. By examining their roles, educators can consider their implementation and impact on student learning.
  
These are some cognitive tools which teachers can use in their classroom (Jonassen, 2006).
 
 
{|class="wikitable"
 
{|class="wikitable"
|+ style="caption-side: top; text-align: left;" | ''Cognitive tools for teachers''
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|+ style="caption-side: top; text-align: left;" | '''Table 1.'''  ''The Roles of Cognitive Tools, Examples, and Specific Technologies: The table (adapted from Iyoshi, et al, 2005) lists the 5 roles of cognitive tools followed by examples and specific technologies that demonstrate each role.  ''  
 
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! Type !! Description !! Examples
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!Roles of Cognitive Tools  !! Examples  !! Specific Technologies   
 
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| Database
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|style="text-align:left;"| I. Information Seeking:<br>
|style="text-align:left;" |
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These tools allow student to retrieve and identify information through learning situations that require the seeking of information.  
# Are useful for supplementing the learning of concept-rich content, such as that in geography, social studies, and the sciences
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|Databases<br>
# Support the storage and retrieval of information in an organized manner Structure is inherent in all knowledge, so using a database that helps learners to structure what they know will facilitate understanding.  
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Search engines
| Database management systems (DBMSs)
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|Google<br>
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Yahoo<br>
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Alta Vista
 
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| Concept Map
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|style="text-align:left;"|II. Information Presentation:<br>
|style="text-align:left;" |
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These tools enable information to be presented in a meaningful and appropriate representation.  
# Are spatial representations of concepts and their interrelationships that simulate the knowledge structures that humans store in their minds (Jonassen, Beissner, & Yacci, 1993).
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|Graphic Organizers<br>
# Are also effective for planning other kinds of productions and knowledge bases.
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Concept Maps
| Inspiration
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|PowerPoint<br>
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Word
 
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| Spreadsheets
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|style="text-align:left;"|III. Knowledge Organization:<br>
|style="text-align:left;" |
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These support students by allowing them to use a tool to establish relationships among information by structuring or restructuring information by manipulating information.
# Are computerized, numeric record-keeping systems.  
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|Spreadsheets<br>
# Qualitatively change educational processes that require manipulation or speculation with numbers and are easy to adapt and modify
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Presentation Tools<br>
# Support speculation, decision making, and problem solving, and they are often used in what-if analyses.  
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Notebook Tools
# Are versatile tools that are most effective in solving quantitative problems
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|Inspiration<br>
# Three primary functions: storing, calculating, and presenting information
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Excel<br>
| Excel
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Word<br>
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HyperAuthor
 
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| Simulation Tools
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|style="text-align:left;"|IV. Knowledge Integration:<br>
|style="text-align:left;" |
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Such tools allow students to connect new information to prior knowledge therefore students are building a larger
# Represent abstract ideas visually, enabling students to use their most highly developed sensory system.
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array of information.
# Support performance in investigative projects, so they are scaffolds that enable students to complete projects 
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|Mapping tools<br>
# Help students to understand and express ideas that they otherwise might not be able to.
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Simulations
| MacSpartan
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|Online discussions<br>
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Teleconferences<br>
| Structured Computer Conference
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Video streaming<br>
|style="text-align:left;" |
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Podcasting (LearnOutLoud.com)
# Two types : asynchronous communication and synchronous communication
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# Support students to construct their knowledge
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| Email, Bulletin board service, Discussion board
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==Implementation==
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===Information Seeking===
When instructors decide to apply cognitive tools in their class, they need to clarify the instructional objectives. As Jonassen (2006) mentioned, instructors should focus on how to use technology to help learners to think more effectively instead of simply using technology.
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Information seeking is a skill in which students search for information for the purpose of research, personal interests, and problem solving. The computer facilitates this process according to Pea (as cited in Kommers, Jonassen, and Mayes, 1991) by “transcending the limitations of the mind, such as memory, in activities of thinking, learning, and problem solving” (p. 23). The facilitation of this process enables the learner to access and retrieve information beyond the limitations of memory, which enables the student to return to previous information throughout the learning process. According to Kozma (1991) these multiple encounters and processes with information result in a cognitive tool amplifying cognition (p. 24).
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Returning to our scenario, Mario researches the places and details of his virtual trip. He must be conscious of how to retrieve relevant and reliable information by utilizing skills such as use of search engines and their functions, planning and conducting research, identifying and evaluating information. He also seeks information from Podcasts and video streaming in order to gain a variety of information suited to his decisions regarding his trip. As his decisions change he can return to previous information, evaluate and reflect on its application to his project. Not only are the information seeking tools necessary, but they also facilitate his cognitive processes in planning the details of his trip.
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===Information Presentation===
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Presenting information involves the organization, format, and verbalization of knowledge conveyed through cognitive tools. The tools should present the knowledge a student has constructed. The variability of tools allows students to effectively present information by: (1). Selecting relevant content, (2). Selecting information that enhances decisions and interpretations, (3). Representing content and relationships in different forms (Iiyoshi et al, 2005).
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When Mario presents information through a PowerPoint presentation, he engages his ability to select information to interpret and represent in a manner appropriate to him and others. These tools enable him to articulate and allow others to reflect upon his knowledge.
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===Knowledge Organization===
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Students’ facilitate several cognitive abilities through the organization of information as an in depth analysis of relationships among ideas and beliefs between the learner and information. These tools demonstrate how information is distinguishable to each learner, Jonassen and Carr state, “Learners attempt to organize knowledge according to their unique experiences and interpretations, rather than simply ‘copying’ the organization provided by teachers” (as cited in Iiyoshi, et al, 2005, p. 287). When students examine the relationships within information, they are faced with many cognitive tasks; therefore, cognitive tools share the “cognitive load” of these processes (Iiyoshi, et al, p. 288).
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Mario demonstrates this as he decides to use a spreadsheet for his travel expenses and his travel journal recording his virtual trip. These tools mimic real authentic examples of organizing traveling experiences through journaling and the mathematical functions of spreadsheets. With these tools, he efficiently organizes many elements of his trip.
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===Knowledge Integration===
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By integration of knowledge, students evaluate and synthesize information that modifies and elaborates prior knowledge. Arguably it is necessary for students to test their assumptions and conceptualizations in regard to their research and its organization. Cognitive tools allow this through their ability to allow lower level thinking skills to be managed in order for higher order thinking skills to be stimulated. Jonassen and Carr support tools that support collaborative argumentation and reasoning because these tools may enhance critical thinking abilities, such as assessing, reorganizing, and verifying new and gathered information, elaborating them and making decisions (as cited in Iiyoshi, et al, 2005, p. 289).
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Along with data, Mario accesses video streaming and teleconferencing as tools to gain additional information about the social, cultural, and historical elements of the places he intends to visit. This information is integrated into his decision-making abilities and background knowledge of the places he will visit.
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===Knowledge Generation===
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The generation of knowledge applies students’ abilities to represent knowledge in a meaningful format that mirror cognitive skills and strategies employed through the interaction with the information. Significant effort is required for students to design and construct their knowledge. These tools illustrate constructivism, “the creation of unique learning artifacts is important to constructivist-inspired views of learning” (Iiyoshi, et al, p. 290).
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Mario generates knowledge through his multimedia journal in which he will share through a presentation. His design will reflect his background knowledge, and cognitive processes and decisions through new knowledge, problem solving and discoveries. Other students will gain new understandings through the sights, sounds, and colors of his trip as it comes alive!
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==Research on Cognitive Tools==
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The University of Michigan conducted an extensive research study in the Detroit Public School System. The study involved the scalability and use of computers as cognitive tools.  The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, and showed that while incorporating technological tools in small, highly refined study groups created a heuristic, implementing reform on a large scale is more difficult. “By necessity these cognitively based technologies are developed in ‘hothouse’ environments where students and teachers receive generous attention from both university faculty and graduate students (or their corporate equivalent for industry-sponsored development projects). The resource environments for these development sites is unusually rich, to make sure that innovations don’t fail to work for reasons that can be avoided, such as inadequate numbers of computers or malfunctioning software or limited teacher knowledge” (Soloway, 2001, p. 4).
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The Internet was found to be the most baffling cognitive tool.  With respect to classroom management, “Students who act out in face-to-face situations will also act out on-line, but it can be much harder for teachers to monitor and prevent, though they are still responsible” (Soloway, 2001, p. 12). The Internet, being open-ended leaves room for discussion of students being “on task”. Also, computers are marketed to schools in labs and not dispersed evenly around the school. This creates scheduling conflicts with teachers wanting to implement a cognitive tools project and not being able to get into the lab. Many students still don’t have access to computers with Internet connections at home.
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Gilbert’s research put in this perspective, “‘enhancing cognitive powers’ can be interpreted in multiple ways, and affect what one considers a cognitive tool.  At one extreme, some limit the term to tools that intentionally develop human capability, however that development is accomplished.  At the other extreme, tools that augment human performance (and perhaps make some learning unnecessary) are included. In between is a range of programs such as microworlds. Intelligent tutoring systems, expert systems and the now commonplace computer applications usually shelved under “productivity programs”- for example spreadsheet, databases, and word processing programs” (1999, p. 7). In this context we can see examples of past cognitive tools that have been looked at from two perspectives. Many educators saw the epistemology of mathematics education change with the advent of the electronic calculator. With the tool many higher level thinking skills were possible because students need not be bogged down with the “manual labor” of long division, multiplication, addition and subtraction. Yes, even the slide rule tool could be considered labor intensive. With the new calculator tool, despite deficiencies in arithmetic, students could perform problems at a higher cognitive level.  The counter-point, however, was teachers found that many of the mental math skills deteriorated to the point where some students couldn’t add two and five without looking for a calculator. Some students became poor estimators, and some couldn’t determine the reasonableness of an answer. So in the same respect, while there may be advantages to using cognitive tools, there may be some disadvantages as well.
  
These are a set of general steps that serve as a guideline in using cognitive tools in the classroom:
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==Advantages of Cognitive Tools==
  
===1. Identify course goals===
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Cognitive tools are distinct in their implications of technology. Jonassen (1994) distinguishes the impact of learning with computers and learning with technology. He states, “When students work WITH computer technology, instead of being controlled by it, they enhance the capabilities of the computer, and the computer enhances their thinking and learning” (p. 4). This interaction empowers learners to become active and responsible filters of information in which they engage in directing their mental processes; therefore, the role of the teacher resumes the “guide on the side”. Cognitive tools should allow students to “activate metacognitive learning strategies” (Jonassen, 1992, p. 2). Metacognitive learning strategies are strategies that are used when students encounter new information, connect it to prior knowledge then construct and revise their schemata. The effective use of cognitive tools should enable learners to undertake this process and assist them in experiencing cognitive processes that would be impossible without such tools (Mayes, 1992, p. 7).
Building a learning environment with cognitive tools should supportmeaningful learning in which students establish a hypothesis for solving a problem and find support or disprove it (the Problem-based Learning and Constructionism chapters in this book are good examples of models that support meaningful learning). Instructors and media specialists must be sure the applications selected as cognitive tools match the goals of the project. In the scenario, Mr. Simon expected students to learn how to apply their knowledge in a realistic situation using Inspiration software to organize the information for knowledge building.
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===2. Design projects for students to achieve the goals===
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The capacity and skill to design, develop and create thought provoking questions could be augmented with usage of cognitive tools as well. Proper questioning directs research inquiry, as well as provides the basis for appropriate assessment of information. Although asking the appropriate questions may not seem pertinent, individuals from various backgrounds and academic levels continue to struggle to improve their questioning ability. Erickson and Lehrer conducted a two-year study of middle school social studies students. By using cognitive tools, “Questions considered worthy of consideration evolved from those that required little effort to answer and even less to evaluate to those that provided opportunities to guide fruitful research and to sustain interest” (Lehrer, 1998, p. 382).
Instructors design a project and its rubric to guide students to build knowledge applying what they learned. The rubric states the requirements for the final product. The project should be challenging and attractive for students. Working with a client in a real situation could motivate students to take more responsibilities of working on the project. However, the real situation could bring much more information than the situation described in the text book. Cognitive tools can be used to help students organize information thereby reducing some of the challenge. Mr. Simon used Inspiration to help his student manage complexity.
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===3. Identify cognitive tools===
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Hypermedia products such as HyperCard, HyperAuthor, as well as PowerPoint are cognitive tools that can increase and assist in the establishment of good design standards of students through recurring creation and evolution of products. Students start out being overly concerned with interesting graphics while omitting essential information. Instructors are able to establish appropriate design standards, which transferred the students’ focus on design to evolve “in ways that aligned communication with presentation” (Erickson et. al., 1998, p. 382). When allowed to play the role of developer/ designer, students tend to perform at a higher level than even their teacher felt was possible.  Lehrer reflects that these types of tasks “promote the evolution of a wide range of skills that are valued both in the classroom and beyond” (Lehrer, Erickson & Connell, 1994, p. 250). Clearly, having computer skills, being well trained in software applications, and having the ability to navigate the new forms of media in the 21st century will be beneficial to all.
Instructors and media specialists need to discuss thoroughly the functions of computer applications which they want to use as cognitive tools and provide technical support based on the students' abilities to use the tools. If students have experience with similar computer applications, a demonstration and a job aid could be adequate. Otherwise, instructors and media specialists should conduct an orientation to ensure students can use the tool in the desired way.
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The typical issues instructors and media specialists should consider include:
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==Challenges of Cognitive Tools==
# Are the computer applications available in their school?
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# How do these computer applications work?
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# What are the students' levels of knowledge with the tools, and do they need an orientation or only a class demonstration with a job aid handout?
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# Can instructors provide technical support for students to use the cognitive tools?
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# Should the cognitive tool be used individually or in a group, and what group size is suitable?
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In the vignette, Mr. Simon and Mr. Edward checked on the availability of Inspiration and Excel in the computer lab. Students had experience of using Inspiration and Excel. Also, Mr. Simon had used Inspiration in his class in the past. He could provide the support to students and students did not need an orientation to learn how to use those computer applications.
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===4. Implement cognitive tools===
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Cognitive tools have their challenges. Many researchers state it is difficult to measure how students actually use the tools and process information. The construction of knowledge bases and representing them in a cognitive tool can be challenging for evaluating learning. Another concern is the possibility of students becoming overwhelmed by the introduction of a cognitive tool and the cognitive processes they require. Currently many educational settings are focused upon the traditional instructional and assessment methods of teacher directed lessons. Therefore technology skills for using cognitive tools may be an issue for some educators and students.
Different cognitive tools have different focuses, so instructors should specify a selected cognitive tool to serve a specific task, and introduce the cognitive tool only when the students need it.
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When students work on their project, teachers should encourage them to use cognitive tools in their task. The teachers could challenge students with questions and ask them to explain the results they created using cognitive tools. Giving feedback is always important to keep students on the right track on their projects. Teachers should observe students' use of the cognitive tools and assist students as needed.
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Currently, research shows several challenges that may be encountered with the cognitive tools approach to learning.  Salomon wrote about the pedagogy of cognitive tools, “No tool is good or bad in and of itself: its effectiveness results from and contributes to the whole configuration of events, activities, contexts, and interpersonal processes taking place in the context of which it is used…If nothing significant changes in the classroom save the introduction of a tool, few if any important changes can be expected (1993, p. 189).  There are some luddites in the educational community that don’t believe computers are a “panacea” for everything that is wrong with education. Teachers also point to falling test scores even with the investment of many millions of dollars of technology in the classroom. Teacher buy-in is critical to the success of cognitive tools.
  
When students find the information they need by using search engines, Mr. Simon asked them to find three extra resources on the same topic to validate the information they found.
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The research with the Detroit schools found many other challenges with respect to implementing cognitive tools on a scalable fashion as well.  The challenges included: teacher training, technology integrated curriculum, assessment, school culture, district policy and management, district capability, changing pedagogical approaches, and cost.  For example, the researchers felt that the term “personal computer” was something of an oxymoron.  How could it be personal if it is used by between 10 are 50 kids a day? (Soloway, 2001, p. 14).
  
In Mr. Simon's class, students used Inspiration to organize information and created concepts maps. Mr. Simon could ask why they think those concepts were important to make a health plan. He could also challenge students with concepts that were not in their map. They also could exchange their ideas while they worked together using Inspiration.
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The use of cognitive tools as an intricate part of the restructuring of schools requires the need for a possible reorganization of several areas of infrastructure within our schools. For example, there is a need for blocks of time so students can form cohesive interactive cooperative groups. Schools need also to provide appropriate space, “so students can work collaboratively with technical tools that are commonplace in every other information environment (e.g. any professional office)” (Lehrer, et. al., 1994, p. 251).
  
When they had ideas about what kinds of food could be recommended for the nutrition plan, Mr. Simon encouraged them to use the spreadsheet to calculate the calories and adjust the food combinations to meet the recommended daily allowance. Students could also use the data chart transformation to present the result visually.
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Assessment issues may also become a concern with the implementation of cognitive tools within the school setting. Time constraints accompanied by the difficulty of providing feedback to large numbers of students in a timely manner can be challenging to manage. Providing teachers with appropriate training to administer as well as design suitable assessment tools which can be applied to similar constructivist scaffolding is also a challenge when considering the use of cognitive tools. Design based assessments will require parents, counselors, administrators, and other stockholders “to learn to read a different type of assessment report and to expect different measures of progress” (Carver, Lehrer, Connell, and Erickson, 1992, p. 402).
  
===5. Assess learning outcomes===
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==Implementing Cognitive Tools==
Instructors can assess the learning outcome by judging student products based on a rubric. Student performance can also be reflected through their use of the cognitive tools. The results generated from cognitive tools could be a part of their final product since these tools can present student generated information and knowledge structures. The concept map that was generated in Mr. Simon's class could be a part of the final product, for example.
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After finishing the project, Mr. Simon asks students to evaluate their use of cognitive tools in their project and experience reflection to inform the next course iteration.
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When considering the use of cognitive tools, educators should understand some of the processes that students encounter while using them. Cognitive tools impact student learning by causing them to think about information instead of reproducing and/or recalling information. Information is shifted through and evaluated for its’ validity, reliability, and applicability to research and problem solving activities. These mental processes support the constructivist pedagogy and uphold the use of higher order thinking skills.
  
==Benefits and Challenges==
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To construct a learning activity in which cognitive tools are utilized, the following guidelines should be considered:
Writers in the education field have suggested that cognitive tools can assist learners in accomplishing complex cognitive tasks. However, different tools are designed to serve different purposes with different structures. It is unjustified to compare the effectiveness of tools without common purposes, rationales, and structures. “The quality of a tool can be judged only in light of its stated purpose, its intended and unintended effects, its structure and its rationale.” (Lajoie, 1993, p. 180)
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===Benefits===
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#Identify learning goals or objectives – Clearly defined goals will enable students to comprehend the purpose of the activity and the desired outcomes.
Lajoie (1993, p. 261) summarized that cognitive tools can benefit learners by serving the functions as follows:
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#Select projects for students to achieve goals or objectives – By analyzing learning goals and objectives, teachers can locate many projects based upon state objectives, research lesson plan ideas on the Internet, consult colleagues, and design their own. Typically authentic tasks can motivate students to engage in meaningful learning.
# Support cognitive processes, such as, memory and metacognitive processes
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#Select cognitive tool/s – Cognitive tools should facilitate the attainment of the learning goals and objectives. The tools should be appropriate to the learning environment, learning styles of students, appropriate for students’ technological skills, and facilitate the desired outcomes of the objectives. Becoming familiar with the tool/s may be necessary for effective instructional and scaffolding strategies. Technical assistance from colleagues, tutorials, and the media specialist may be sought.
# Share the cognitive load by providing support for lower level cognitive skills so that resources are left over for higher order thinking skills
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#Implement the learning experience and cognitive tool/s – Most teachers invest time in planning and assuring learning activities can be executed. Having an alternative plan is essential when relying on technology because the unexpected can happen. Some students may need guidance in their usage of the tool. Collaborative pairs, mini lessons, and one to one assistance can alleviate stress when encountering new technologies.
# Allow the learners to engage in cognitive activities that would be out of their reach otherwise
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#Evaluate the learning outcomes – The evaluation of tools is challenging; however, checklists and rubrics can serve as assessments in evaluating students’ effective use of them. Also student artifacts are evaluated according to criteria listed on rubrics, peer feedback, and performance evaluation checklists and/or rubrics.
# Allow learners to generate and test hypotheses in the context of problem solving
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Jonassen and Reeves (1996, p. 698) proposed that cognitive tools are best used as reflection tools that amplify, extend, and even reorganize human mental powers in order to help learners construct their own realities and complete challenging tasks. The foundations for cognitive tools research include:
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# Cognitive tools will have their greatest effectiveness when they are applied to constructivist learning environments.  
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# Cognitive tools help learners to design their own representations of knowledge rather than absorbing knowledge representations preconceived by others.  
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# Cognitive tools can be used to support the deep reflective thinking that is necessary for meaningful learning.  
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# Tasks for the application of cognitive tools should be situated in realistic contexts with results that are personally meaningful for learners.
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===Challenges===
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Teachers should consider the following when planning the use of a cognitive tool for learning.
In spite of the various benefits, there are limitations of cognitive tools.  
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# Sweller and Chandler (1994) found that integrating textual and diagrammatic information describing the same problem placed heavy demands on working memory, and integration of multiple sources of information is difficult. Also, the use of computer applications as cognitive tools requires teachers to have advanced technological teaching skills as their use consumes time, human resources and equipment resources.  
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*Cognitive tools function best in constructivist learning environments.
# Moreover, different kinds of cognitive tools require different levels of intellectual development (Jonassen, 2006).  
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*They can motivate and engage learners through realistic contextual learning.
# Cognitive tools which represent phenomena in the real world could lead to misconceptions when phenomena change over time, context, and purpose.  
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*The tools should help manage the cognitive work, not increase it.
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*A variety of tools can be necessary to support diversified learners and various cognitive processes.
 +
*The same tool may support various functions.
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*The tools should provide students the ability to actively address meaningful questions and problem solving that are realistic and offer feedback.
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*Scaffolding may be needed in order for the student to effectively use a tool.
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*They allow students to focus on higher order thinking and developing an array of knowledge through thinking and reflection.
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*Tools need to support the students’ expression of knowledge.
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*The successfulness of cognitive tools has not been determined therefore many unanswered questions remain about how to facilitate their use and how students actually manipulate them.
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*Assessing the products of cognitive tools can be complex and may require alternative assessments for the use and the impact of the tool upon the learning community.
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*Cognitive tools can require troubleshooting and encompass other technology issues related to users and designers.
  
==Cognitive Tools==
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An earlier version of this chapter was written by Shim and Li. The authors of the current chapter decided that they wanted to write a new chapter rather than an extensive edit of the old one. However, I would like to keep the older one in case others prefer this version. Here is the link to this version.
Another chapter was created in Cognitive Tools to facilitate the understanding of the theory:
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[[Cognitive Tools II]]
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==References==
 
==References==
Jonassen, D.H. (2006). Modeling with technology: Mindtools for conceptual change. Columbus, OH: Merill/Prentice Hall.
 
  
Jonassen, D.H. (2000). Computers as mindtools for schools: Engaging critical thinking. Columbus, OH: Merill/Prentice Hall.
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Bransford, J. D., Cocking, R. R.,  & Brown, A. L. (2000). Technology to Support Learning. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience (pp. 206-230).  Washington  DC:   National  Academy Press.
  
Jonassen, D.H., & Reeves, T. C. (1996). Learning with technology: Using computers as cognitive tools. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of Research for Educational Communication and Technology , pp. 693-724. NY: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
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Gilbert, L. S. (1999). Where is my Brain? Distributed Cognition, Activity Theory, and Cognitive Tools (Working Paper). Houston, Texas: Association for Educational Communications and Technologies (AECT). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED436153)
  
Jonassen, D.H. (1994). Technology as cognitive tools: learners as designers. ITForum, paper #1. Online publications edited by Gene Wilkinson, Department of Instructional Technology, University of Georgia. Available online: http://itech1.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper1/paper1.html.  
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Iiyoshi, T., Hannifin, M. J.,  & Wang, F. (2005). Cognitive tools and student-centered learning:Rethinking tools, functions, and applications. Educational Media International, 42, 281-296. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
  
Kommers, P. A. M., Jonassen, D. H., & Mayes, T. M. (1992). Cognitive tools for learning. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
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Jonassen, D. H., & Carr, C. (2000). Mind tools: Affording Multiple Knowledge Representations in Learning. In S. P. Lajoie (Ed.), Computers as Cognitive Tools: Volume Ii, No More Walls (pp. 165-196). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
  
Lajoie, S. P. & Derry, S. J. (1993). Computers as cognitive tools. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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Jonassen, D. H. Technology as Cognitive Tools [IT Forum Paper 1]. Message posted to http://itech1.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper1/paper1.html
  
Lajoie, S. P. (2000). Computers as cognitive tools: no more walls. Volume II. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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Kennedy, D., & McNaught, C. (2001). Computer-based cognitive tools. Description and design (C. Vitelli, & J. Vitelli, Eds.). Norfolk, Virginia: Ed Media.
  
Pea, R. D. (1985). Beyond amplification: Using the computer to reorganize mental functioning. Educational Psychologist 20(4). 167-182.
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Kommers, P. A. M., Jonassen, D. H. & Mayes, T. M. (Eds.). (1992). Cognitive Tools for  Learning. (Vol. 81). NATO ASI series. Germany. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.        
  
Salmon, G. (1993). On the nature of pedagogic computer tools. The case of the writing partner. In S. P. Lajoie & S. J. Derry (Eds.) Computers as cognitive tools. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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Lajoie, S. P. (2000). Computers as Cognitive Tools: Volume Ii, No More Walls (Rev. ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
  
Sweller, J., & Chandler, P. (1994). Why some material is difficult to learn. Cognition and Instruction, 12, 185-233
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Salomon, G. (1993). No distribution without individuals cognition: A dynamic interactional view. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognition:Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 111-138). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  
==Citation==
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Sewell, D. F. (1990). New Tools for New Minds. London, England : Harvester Wheatsheaf.
{{APA Citation|author=Shim, J. E., & Li, Y|date=2006|name=Cognitive tools}}
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Revision as of 14:34, 13 May 2007

Brent Robertson, Laura Elliot, Donna Washington
Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia

Scenario

Mario is currently a ninth grader who attends a local area high school. He enjoys most of his classes but his two favorite subjects are his World Studies course and Introduction to Technology. He has discovered both courses to be very informative and decides to combine his interest in both classes into a project for his technology class.

Mr. Singletary, his technology teacher, has given Mario’s class this task: Students are to utilize various kinds of software, websites, and technology for application in a real-life situation. Mario must design a scenario, which incorporates an authentic event while using technology tools as a means to an end. He will also use technology-based tools to develop a strategy as well as solutions for his scenario.

Mario decides his enjoyment of his World Studies course will tie in easily with the technology project. He develops a scenario in which he travels across the world. Mario wants to manage his travel with technology to assist his research as well as document his “experiences”. Mario sees a definite connection between the software he is using in his technology class to the goals he plans to accomplish in order to satisfy the project requirements.

Deciding first to draft a route for his virtual trip, Mario chooses to travel in an easterly direction around the world until he makes his way back to Georgia . Mario uses Inspiration to construct a flow-diagram of the events and procedures in order to aid his planning and implementation of the trip. Mario sees the flow chart being beneficial to organization and believes it will serve also as a visual tool when presenting the project to his classmates.

Mario surfs several well-known search engines such as Google, Galileo, Yahoo, and AltaVista to retrieve information on possible travel destinations and points of interest. He also finds a few sites like Dogpile, Webcrawler, Metacrawler, and AllTheWeb that are unfamiliar to him but he finds provides an interesting array of data, facts, figures and statistics.

Mario wants to ensure that each of his artifacts, to the greatest extent possible, demonstrates in detail all that is experienced on this virtual journey. His knowledge base of Microsoft Excel makes organization of essential data simple. Mario uses Excel to calculate approximate mileage of daily travel, determine fuel costs, transportation, food, and lodging expenses as well as other data of interest. Using the information derived from these spreadsheets, Mario creates several charts and graphs to display his daily, weekly and monthly expenditures.

Mario elects to create a database to store information such as addresses of locations where he stops and tours as well as contact information of organizations, associations, and business contacts he needs to initiate the travel process. Mario also uses the database to keep information of individuals and groups he encounters along his virtual journey.

In order to learn as much as he can about the various places he “visits”, Mario exchanges information with several individuals through teleconferencing and viewing web-streaming video. Mario’s technology teacher offers a suggestion that Mario go to a website like LearnOutLoud.com to listen to various podcasts on historical, economic, social as well as current newscasts that may be significant to his travel destinations. He uses podcast information to determine in real time what situations or conditions he may encounter on his trip. For example, after listening to a podcast originating from Tunis, capital of Tunisia , (a country located in northern Africa) Mario hears a forecast warning of hurricane-like weather. He is forced to change his travel plans and moves his arrival closer inland to avoid the storm. This is one of several ways Mario is able to use technology to significantly impact an undertaking like a trip around the world.

Mario is interested in having a way to record his thoughts and experiences as he travels virtually across the world. To satisfy this need he constructs a detailed multimedia journal using software called Alpha Journal by the Alpha Realms Company. This software makes easy work of incorporating pictures and documenting comprehensive descriptions of each place he visits. The journal also includes pertinent information giving descriptions of the people, weather, general environment, and socio-economic conditions. Mario also includes several detailed entries of conversations he has with locals through email contact or online chat rooms.

By the conclusion of the project, Mario has a large collection of valuable information, which he carefully organizes and synthesizes into an electronic portfolio using Microsoft PowerPoint. He presents and proudly shares specific information of his virtual travels with his classmates. Mario finds using the tools of his Introduction to Technology course has made his virtual journey a project of genuine possibility.

Background

Unlike earlier direct computer instruction models of the 1980’s where technology was used as an Intelligent Tutoring System, Mario’s application of technology is as a cognitive tool. Apart from shifting from a behaviorist to constructivist pedagogy, the paradigm shift whereby students learn “with” as opposed to “from” computers is important in several respects.

Many tutorials and integrated learning systems have been developed and deployed in the schools. These applications have had only a very small impact on learning in the schools. In the 1980s and 1990s, research focused on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) as a possible way of having a greater impact on learning. The empirical data on ITS shows very little promise for educational purposes. Even those who have been most involved in research and development targeted at producing "intelligent tutors" have begun to acknowledge the lack of impact they have had on mainstream education (Lajoie & Derry, 1993, p. 37). In the face of the disappointing results of ITS and traditional tutorials, some experts suggest that "...the appropriate role for a computer is not that of a teacher/expert, but rather, that of a mind-extension 'Cognitive Tool'" (Derry & Lajoie, 1993, p. 5). Those who are interested in cognitive tools have pursued two separate paths. One path was to make use of existing software applications in ways that allowed learners to engage in higher order thinking. The other path has focused on the creation of new software applications that are specifically designed as a cognitive tool. Either way, there was clearly a need for a new direction in technology’s role in education.

Secondly, new software tools for educational purposes make it possible for people to perform and learn in far more complex ways than ever before. For example, computer scaffolding enables students to do more advanced activities than they could without such help (Brown, 2000). Mario’s project reflects this research. For example, compiling and calculating the data for approximate miles of daily travel, fuel costs, transportation, food and lodging expenses will be accomplished using a spreadsheet program like Lotus 123 or Microsoft Excel. These programs will chart, graph, compile, and compare all of the data that is entered. Although paper and pencil methods of data analysis will accomplish these goals as well, it will be a much more labor intensive endeavor. The hand made graphs and charts may not have had the same level of professionalism as the computer models. By using a computer spreadsheet and graphing software the level of sophistication of the project was enhanced as well as the learning. Again, the computer can be seen as a cognitive tool to learn “with” as opposed to “from”.

Finally, in combination with other learner-centered strategies described in this book like Project-based Learning, Problem-based Learning and the Six C’s of Motivation, motivation can be significantly increased using the cognitive tools model. Choice would increase in projects using cognitive tools. For example, even something as straightforward as researching the Southern Pacific countries comes to life with cognitive tools. Looking through an Encyclopedia Britannica wouldn’t generate the same speed and enthusiasm as it would to travel search on travelocity.com. This supports the results found by researchers, “Learners function as designers using the technology as tools for analyzing the world, accessing information, interpreting and organizing their personal knowledge, and representing what they know to others” (Jonassen, 1991, p. 82). In addition, we can see from this research that using cognitive tools supports a constructivist model of learning. Mario, by using the cognitive tools of the Internet is able to access much more information interactively. He could do a Google search on Sri Lanka and get all of the historical and political background, and then he could continue on to expedia.com and price hotels in Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte, the capitol.

Another perspective of Cognitive tools can be seen from Pea (1985). “Cognitive technologies are tools that may be provided by any medium and that help learners transcend the limitations of their minds, such as memory, thinking, or problem solving limitations. The most pervasive cognitive technology is language” (p. 37). In this instance, Mario’s example exemplifies language in terms of the tools he uses to communicate. He is able to connect and set up teleconferencing with individuals while collecting his data for his mock travels. He is able to report back to his teacher and classmates using multi-media software. These tools improve the language needed to communicate effectively.

Cognitive Tool Affordance

What do cognitive tools offer teachers and students? Many cognitive tools have multiple roles. Their roles allow students to interact with information in order to acquire, synthesize, create, and share new knowledge. By examining their roles, educators can consider their implementation and impact on student learning.

Table 1. The Roles of Cognitive Tools, Examples, and Specific Technologies: The table (adapted from Iyoshi, et al, 2005) lists the 5 roles of cognitive tools followed by examples and specific technologies that demonstrate each role.
Roles of Cognitive Tools Examples Specific Technologies
I. Information Seeking:

These tools allow student to retrieve and identify information through learning situations that require the seeking of information.

Databases

Search engines

Google

Yahoo
Alta Vista

II. Information Presentation:

These tools enable information to be presented in a meaningful and appropriate representation.

Graphic Organizers

Concept Maps

PowerPoint

Word

III. Knowledge Organization:

These support students by allowing them to use a tool to establish relationships among information by structuring or restructuring information by manipulating information.

Spreadsheets

Presentation Tools
Notebook Tools

Inspiration

Excel
Word
HyperAuthor

IV. Knowledge Integration:

Such tools allow students to connect new information to prior knowledge therefore students are building a larger array of information.

Mapping tools

Simulations

Online discussions

Teleconferences
Video streaming
Podcasting (LearnOutLoud.com)

Information Seeking

Information seeking is a skill in which students search for information for the purpose of research, personal interests, and problem solving. The computer facilitates this process according to Pea (as cited in Kommers, Jonassen, and Mayes, 1991) by “transcending the limitations of the mind, such as memory, in activities of thinking, learning, and problem solving” (p. 23). The facilitation of this process enables the learner to access and retrieve information beyond the limitations of memory, which enables the student to return to previous information throughout the learning process. According to Kozma (1991) these multiple encounters and processes with information result in a cognitive tool amplifying cognition (p. 24).

Returning to our scenario, Mario researches the places and details of his virtual trip. He must be conscious of how to retrieve relevant and reliable information by utilizing skills such as use of search engines and their functions, planning and conducting research, identifying and evaluating information. He also seeks information from Podcasts and video streaming in order to gain a variety of information suited to his decisions regarding his trip. As his decisions change he can return to previous information, evaluate and reflect on its application to his project. Not only are the information seeking tools necessary, but they also facilitate his cognitive processes in planning the details of his trip.

Information Presentation

Presenting information involves the organization, format, and verbalization of knowledge conveyed through cognitive tools. The tools should present the knowledge a student has constructed. The variability of tools allows students to effectively present information by: (1). Selecting relevant content, (2). Selecting information that enhances decisions and interpretations, (3). Representing content and relationships in different forms (Iiyoshi et al, 2005).

When Mario presents information through a PowerPoint presentation, he engages his ability to select information to interpret and represent in a manner appropriate to him and others. These tools enable him to articulate and allow others to reflect upon his knowledge.

Knowledge Organization

Students’ facilitate several cognitive abilities through the organization of information as an in depth analysis of relationships among ideas and beliefs between the learner and information. These tools demonstrate how information is distinguishable to each learner, Jonassen and Carr state, “Learners attempt to organize knowledge according to their unique experiences and interpretations, rather than simply ‘copying’ the organization provided by teachers” (as cited in Iiyoshi, et al, 2005, p. 287). When students examine the relationships within information, they are faced with many cognitive tasks; therefore, cognitive tools share the “cognitive load” of these processes (Iiyoshi, et al, p. 288).

Mario demonstrates this as he decides to use a spreadsheet for his travel expenses and his travel journal recording his virtual trip. These tools mimic real authentic examples of organizing traveling experiences through journaling and the mathematical functions of spreadsheets. With these tools, he efficiently organizes many elements of his trip.

Knowledge Integration

By integration of knowledge, students evaluate and synthesize information that modifies and elaborates prior knowledge. Arguably it is necessary for students to test their assumptions and conceptualizations in regard to their research and its organization. Cognitive tools allow this through their ability to allow lower level thinking skills to be managed in order for higher order thinking skills to be stimulated. Jonassen and Carr support tools that support collaborative argumentation and reasoning because these tools may enhance critical thinking abilities, such as assessing, reorganizing, and verifying new and gathered information, elaborating them and making decisions (as cited in Iiyoshi, et al, 2005, p. 289).

Along with data, Mario accesses video streaming and teleconferencing as tools to gain additional information about the social, cultural, and historical elements of the places he intends to visit. This information is integrated into his decision-making abilities and background knowledge of the places he will visit.

Knowledge Generation

The generation of knowledge applies students’ abilities to represent knowledge in a meaningful format that mirror cognitive skills and strategies employed through the interaction with the information. Significant effort is required for students to design and construct their knowledge. These tools illustrate constructivism, “the creation of unique learning artifacts is important to constructivist-inspired views of learning” (Iiyoshi, et al, p. 290).

Mario generates knowledge through his multimedia journal in which he will share through a presentation. His design will reflect his background knowledge, and cognitive processes and decisions through new knowledge, problem solving and discoveries. Other students will gain new understandings through the sights, sounds, and colors of his trip as it comes alive!

Research on Cognitive Tools

The University of Michigan conducted an extensive research study in the Detroit Public School System. The study involved the scalability and use of computers as cognitive tools. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, and showed that while incorporating technological tools in small, highly refined study groups created a heuristic, implementing reform on a large scale is more difficult. “By necessity these cognitively based technologies are developed in ‘hothouse’ environments where students and teachers receive generous attention from both university faculty and graduate students (or their corporate equivalent for industry-sponsored development projects). The resource environments for these development sites is unusually rich, to make sure that innovations don’t fail to work for reasons that can be avoided, such as inadequate numbers of computers or malfunctioning software or limited teacher knowledge” (Soloway, 2001, p. 4).

The Internet was found to be the most baffling cognitive tool. With respect to classroom management, “Students who act out in face-to-face situations will also act out on-line, but it can be much harder for teachers to monitor and prevent, though they are still responsible” (Soloway, 2001, p. 12). The Internet, being open-ended leaves room for discussion of students being “on task”. Also, computers are marketed to schools in labs and not dispersed evenly around the school. This creates scheduling conflicts with teachers wanting to implement a cognitive tools project and not being able to get into the lab. Many students still don’t have access to computers with Internet connections at home.

Gilbert’s research put in this perspective, “‘enhancing cognitive powers’ can be interpreted in multiple ways, and affect what one considers a cognitive tool. At one extreme, some limit the term to tools that intentionally develop human capability, however that development is accomplished. At the other extreme, tools that augment human performance (and perhaps make some learning unnecessary) are included. In between is a range of programs such as microworlds. Intelligent tutoring systems, expert systems and the now commonplace computer applications usually shelved under “productivity programs”- for example spreadsheet, databases, and word processing programs” (1999, p. 7). In this context we can see examples of past cognitive tools that have been looked at from two perspectives. Many educators saw the epistemology of mathematics education change with the advent of the electronic calculator. With the tool many higher level thinking skills were possible because students need not be bogged down with the “manual labor” of long division, multiplication, addition and subtraction. Yes, even the slide rule tool could be considered labor intensive. With the new calculator tool, despite deficiencies in arithmetic, students could perform problems at a higher cognitive level. The counter-point, however, was teachers found that many of the mental math skills deteriorated to the point where some students couldn’t add two and five without looking for a calculator. Some students became poor estimators, and some couldn’t determine the reasonableness of an answer. So in the same respect, while there may be advantages to using cognitive tools, there may be some disadvantages as well.

Advantages of Cognitive Tools

Cognitive tools are distinct in their implications of technology. Jonassen (1994) distinguishes the impact of learning with computers and learning with technology. He states, “When students work WITH computer technology, instead of being controlled by it, they enhance the capabilities of the computer, and the computer enhances their thinking and learning” (p. 4). This interaction empowers learners to become active and responsible filters of information in which they engage in directing their mental processes; therefore, the role of the teacher resumes the “guide on the side”. Cognitive tools should allow students to “activate metacognitive learning strategies” (Jonassen, 1992, p. 2). Metacognitive learning strategies are strategies that are used when students encounter new information, connect it to prior knowledge then construct and revise their schemata. The effective use of cognitive tools should enable learners to undertake this process and assist them in experiencing cognitive processes that would be impossible without such tools (Mayes, 1992, p. 7).

The capacity and skill to design, develop and create thought provoking questions could be augmented with usage of cognitive tools as well. Proper questioning directs research inquiry, as well as provides the basis for appropriate assessment of information. Although asking the appropriate questions may not seem pertinent, individuals from various backgrounds and academic levels continue to struggle to improve their questioning ability. Erickson and Lehrer conducted a two-year study of middle school social studies students. By using cognitive tools, “Questions considered worthy of consideration evolved from those that required little effort to answer and even less to evaluate to those that provided opportunities to guide fruitful research and to sustain interest” (Lehrer, 1998, p. 382).

Hypermedia products such as HyperCard, HyperAuthor, as well as PowerPoint are cognitive tools that can increase and assist in the establishment of good design standards of students through recurring creation and evolution of products. Students start out being overly concerned with interesting graphics while omitting essential information. Instructors are able to establish appropriate design standards, which transferred the students’ focus on design to evolve “in ways that aligned communication with presentation” (Erickson et. al., 1998, p. 382). When allowed to play the role of developer/ designer, students tend to perform at a higher level than even their teacher felt was possible. Lehrer reflects that these types of tasks “promote the evolution of a wide range of skills that are valued both in the classroom and beyond” (Lehrer, Erickson & Connell, 1994, p. 250). Clearly, having computer skills, being well trained in software applications, and having the ability to navigate the new forms of media in the 21st century will be beneficial to all.

Challenges of Cognitive Tools

Cognitive tools have their challenges. Many researchers state it is difficult to measure how students actually use the tools and process information. The construction of knowledge bases and representing them in a cognitive tool can be challenging for evaluating learning. Another concern is the possibility of students becoming overwhelmed by the introduction of a cognitive tool and the cognitive processes they require. Currently many educational settings are focused upon the traditional instructional and assessment methods of teacher directed lessons. Therefore technology skills for using cognitive tools may be an issue for some educators and students.

Currently, research shows several challenges that may be encountered with the cognitive tools approach to learning. Salomon wrote about the pedagogy of cognitive tools, “No tool is good or bad in and of itself: its effectiveness results from and contributes to the whole configuration of events, activities, contexts, and interpersonal processes taking place in the context of which it is used…If nothing significant changes in the classroom save the introduction of a tool, few if any important changes can be expected (1993, p. 189). There are some luddites in the educational community that don’t believe computers are a “panacea” for everything that is wrong with education. Teachers also point to falling test scores even with the investment of many millions of dollars of technology in the classroom. Teacher buy-in is critical to the success of cognitive tools.

The research with the Detroit schools found many other challenges with respect to implementing cognitive tools on a scalable fashion as well. The challenges included: teacher training, technology integrated curriculum, assessment, school culture, district policy and management, district capability, changing pedagogical approaches, and cost. For example, the researchers felt that the term “personal computer” was something of an oxymoron. How could it be personal if it is used by between 10 are 50 kids a day? (Soloway, 2001, p. 14).

The use of cognitive tools as an intricate part of the restructuring of schools requires the need for a possible reorganization of several areas of infrastructure within our schools. For example, there is a need for blocks of time so students can form cohesive interactive cooperative groups. Schools need also to provide appropriate space, “so students can work collaboratively with technical tools that are commonplace in every other information environment (e.g. any professional office)” (Lehrer, et. al., 1994, p. 251).

Assessment issues may also become a concern with the implementation of cognitive tools within the school setting. Time constraints accompanied by the difficulty of providing feedback to large numbers of students in a timely manner can be challenging to manage. Providing teachers with appropriate training to administer as well as design suitable assessment tools which can be applied to similar constructivist scaffolding is also a challenge when considering the use of cognitive tools. Design based assessments will require parents, counselors, administrators, and other stockholders “to learn to read a different type of assessment report and to expect different measures of progress” (Carver, Lehrer, Connell, and Erickson, 1992, p. 402).

Implementing Cognitive Tools

When considering the use of cognitive tools, educators should understand some of the processes that students encounter while using them. Cognitive tools impact student learning by causing them to think about information instead of reproducing and/or recalling information. Information is shifted through and evaluated for its’ validity, reliability, and applicability to research and problem solving activities. These mental processes support the constructivist pedagogy and uphold the use of higher order thinking skills.

To construct a learning activity in which cognitive tools are utilized, the following guidelines should be considered:

  1. Identify learning goals or objectives – Clearly defined goals will enable students to comprehend the purpose of the activity and the desired outcomes.
  2. Select projects for students to achieve goals or objectives – By analyzing learning goals and objectives, teachers can locate many projects based upon state objectives, research lesson plan ideas on the Internet, consult colleagues, and design their own. Typically authentic tasks can motivate students to engage in meaningful learning.
  3. Select cognitive tool/s – Cognitive tools should facilitate the attainment of the learning goals and objectives. The tools should be appropriate to the learning environment, learning styles of students, appropriate for students’ technological skills, and facilitate the desired outcomes of the objectives. Becoming familiar with the tool/s may be necessary for effective instructional and scaffolding strategies. Technical assistance from colleagues, tutorials, and the media specialist may be sought.
  4. Implement the learning experience and cognitive tool/s – Most teachers invest time in planning and assuring learning activities can be executed. Having an alternative plan is essential when relying on technology because the unexpected can happen. Some students may need guidance in their usage of the tool. Collaborative pairs, mini lessons, and one to one assistance can alleviate stress when encountering new technologies.
  5. Evaluate the learning outcomes – The evaluation of tools is challenging; however, checklists and rubrics can serve as assessments in evaluating students’ effective use of them. Also student artifacts are evaluated according to criteria listed on rubrics, peer feedback, and performance evaluation checklists and/or rubrics.

Teachers should consider the following when planning the use of a cognitive tool for learning.

  • Cognitive tools function best in constructivist learning environments.
  • They can motivate and engage learners through realistic contextual learning.
  • The tools should help manage the cognitive work, not increase it.
  • A variety of tools can be necessary to support diversified learners and various cognitive processes.
  • The same tool may support various functions.
  • The tools should provide students the ability to actively address meaningful questions and problem solving that are realistic and offer feedback.
  • Scaffolding may be needed in order for the student to effectively use a tool.
  • They allow students to focus on higher order thinking and developing an array of knowledge through thinking and reflection.
  • Tools need to support the students’ expression of knowledge.
  • The successfulness of cognitive tools has not been determined therefore many unanswered questions remain about how to facilitate their use and how students actually manipulate them.
  • Assessing the products of cognitive tools can be complex and may require alternative assessments for the use and the impact of the tool upon the learning community.
  • Cognitive tools can require troubleshooting and encompass other technology issues related to users and designers.

An earlier version of this chapter was written by Shim and Li. The authors of the current chapter decided that they wanted to write a new chapter rather than an extensive edit of the old one. However, I would like to keep the older one in case others prefer this version. Here is the link to this version.

References

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