LEARNING CONNECTIONS |
It is natural for students’ minds
to wander during class. Our brains
need rest at di erent times to process
information or increase stimulation.
e virtual documents provide a place
for students who might have been distracted for a moment or might need
to hear something one more time to
go back and review. In addition, instead of doodling, daydreaming, or
checking e-mail for a respite, collaborative so ware facilitates “on-topic
Students can change their attention
and modes of learning at will while
further enhancing their understanding of the concepts. For example,
students can simultaneously explore
Web sites on the same topic and share
their ndings. A student unfamiliar
with a term can look it up, virtually
share a de nition, and explore implications with peers. When a student
mentions an unfamiliar theorist or
theory, students track down a picture
or a graphic of the theory and post it
on the communal document. Distractions, therefore, result in enriched
understanding for the group
as a whole.
Overall, these tools appear to be
well suited for use in high school
or college classrooms where the instructor desires a more engaging and
open format. Implementation should
include clarifying appropriate tool
etiquette (erasing, aming, language);
establishing the parameters of supplemental Web use; and noting where
students can access constructed documents a er class.
e advent of tools that support
more collaborative constructions of
understanding and that enable multi-modal multitasking provide exciting
new ways to structure teaching and
learning. As we continue to develop
tools that empower our capacities for
learning and that support greater di-versities of students, the gap between
educational vision and practical reality will continue to shrink.
—Mark Bailey has explored educational applications for emerging technologies since the 1980s.
An associate professor at Paci c University, he
publishes and presents extensively on the con u-
ence of technological innovation, educational
empowerment, and social justice.
—Steve Rhine is a professor of education at
Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He has
published articles and presented on construc-tivist-based practices with technology, algebraic
thinking, and issues of diversity, particularly
related to English language learners. Bailey and
Rhine are founding members of the Oregon
Technology in Education Network.