Why Technology in Learning Matters

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There should be no false distinctions between the real world and the digital world, there are certainly none in the minds of learners; what is important to note is that technology is enabling an enhanced learning paradigm to emerge.

Technology in learning is important, not only because it provides an efficient vehicle to support the delivery of material to the learner but because it fundamentally changes how learning happens. Online forums offer an opportunity to engage in a learning network beyond traditional geographical or company boundaries, transforming the culture and environment of learning. Technology has the ability to activate and interconnect content, learners, the learning community, and learning facilitator. It has the capacity to create juxtaposition between the learner accessing knowledge content and the process of sense-making. It is more than a simple transmission system; it creates an open iterative system of learning (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Open Iterative System of Learning

Within this system, technology becomes more than a transmitter, broadcasting knowledge content from the specialist to the learner. The specialist becomes a facilitator who engages in a process of co-construction with the learner. Technology offers a range of digital tools that facilitate an enabling conduit, which frames the process of learning. At the center of this process is the learner who is fed from, feeds back, and feeds forward into the system of learning.

Traditionally, learning has been centered on some form of instruction or experience that results in new or improved knowledge or skill. Technology as an open iterative system of learning operates on the basis of a continuous process of inputs and outputs made possible because of technology and digital platforms. The learner feeds from the input elements and contribution from both the learning facilitator and social network advancing theit internalisation of the knowledge content. Technology provides a conduit through which the learner can feed forward their initial conceptualisation of new knowledge content by sharing with others in their learning network, helping to assimilate and contextualise the new information. Thus the learner is able to create a new understanding of that knowledge through sharing and dialogue as an extension of the learning process. The learner then uses technology to feed back into the system of learning developing a mindfulness through their contribution and interaction with the learning community and a shift in their worldview as they engage in sense-making with others.

This system repeats itself as the learner then feeds from the response of the learning facilitator and social network. Technology therefore offers an iterative system of learning, which results in and contributes to a continuous process of new understanding and meaning-making for the learner, the learning community, and the learning facilitator. In this respect the iterative system of learning is aligned to Govarets and van der Vleuten’s (2013: 1167) proposition that “learning for future practice thus implies that learning is an on going process without a clear endpoint; learning is never complete.”

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