ArticlePDF Available

Digital Learning Materials: Classification and Implications for the Curriculum


Abstract and Figures

The concept ‘curriculum materials’ is no longer exclusively associated with textbooks, but also with information and communication technologies (ICT). However, digital curriculum materials have yet to achieve recognition on par with the clear and familiar image of a textbook. Digital materials can be envisioned to encompass the entire spectrum from a simple drill and practice program to a complete simulation of an industrial production plant. The expectations placed on digital materials for educational innovations are set high. A dispassionate look at the impact of digital materials shows that these high expectations are not met. But, there is still a growing conviction that digital materials will gain in significance for learning both in and outside of school settings. In order to present a valid examination of the value of digital materials for learning purposes, it is necessary to be more precise about the specific characteristics and educational potential of these materials.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Digital learning materials: classification and implications for the curriculum1
Ellen van den Berg
Peter Blijleven
Leanne Jansen
Curriculum materials are no longer exclusively associated with textbooks but also with information and
communication technologies (ICT). However, the clear image of a textbook is non-existent for these digital
curriculum materials yet. One may relate digital materials to a simple drill and practice program, but also to a
complete simulation of a plant in the process industry. The expectations of digital materials for educational
innovations are pitched high. A sober look at the impact of digital materials shows that these high expectations
are not met. But, there is still a growing conviction that digital materials will gain significance for learning in
school and non-school settings. In order to give a valid examination of the value of digital materials for learning
purposes, it is necessary to be more precise about the specific characteristics and educational potential of these
A classical book concerning computers in education is The computer in the school: Tutor, Tool or
Tutee (Taylor, 1980). In this book computer use for educational purposes is divided in three classes. First, the
computer may function as a tutor, which organizes content and delivers instruction. Second, the computer may
be seen as a tool, which is used to support student learning activities. And third, the computer may be perceived
as tutee, referring to the computer as programmable machine that can take actions according to the instructions
of the students or teacher. More then twenties years later this classification, although basically still viable, needs
to be extended and refined. An important reason for this extension is that in 1980 delivery and communication
facilities specific for the Internet were by no means so far-reaching as today. But also the tutorial role of the
computer has become more diverse and more easily accessible through powerful personal computers. Moreover,
in education the importance of learning computer programming in languages such as Basic and Pascal has
nearly vanished. All kinds of authoring tools and object-oriented computer languages make the former
programming skills superficial for non-professionals. The learning curve for the authoring tools (the 'new
tutees') is less steep then that for the traditional languages, whereas the result are usually more sophisticated.
In the next section a classification of types of digital learning materials is presented and their function
in the teaching learning processes is briefly outlined. Subsequently the way these materials may impact
curriculum innovations is discussed. Special emphasis is put on the role of the teacher.
1 The research underlying this chapter was financially supported by the Ververs-Foundation
Types of digital learning materials
Drill and Practice
Maybe drill and practice programs are the most well known digital learning materials. Essentially,
these programs built on existing knowledge and give learners the opportunity to consolidate and repeat
knowledge and train and automate skills (cf. Weber, 1999). Drill and practice programs do not have a good
reputation nowadays, they are associated with an out of date learning theory in which dull repetition and lower-
order thinking are dominant factors. Moreover, drill and practice programs are condemned for not optimally
using the technological power of new generations of computers. In spite of the many ill-designed drill and
practice programs, this criticism seems to be too harsh. The educational value of these programs (like all
programs) depends one the quality of its instructional and technical design. And although rather scarce, there are
sound drill and practice programs which also stretches the capabilities of modern computer technology to its
limits. An example of such program is the Dutch program ‘Plato en de rekenspiegel’ [Plato and the arithmetic
mirror] that provides learners with ample opportunities to practice their numeric skills. This program consists of
excellent facilities to diagnose performance and give adequate feedback and guidance. The program calculates a
model of the learner, and based on his/her past performance, subsequent tasks are given. Feedback is also
provided by means of suggesting and supporting different calculating strategies. In Figure 1 the user-interface of
Plato is presented.
‘cuddly toys’
(Uitgeverij Zwijsen:
'Plato en de rekenspiegel' [Plato and the arithmetic mirror] is an
advanced drill and practice program, published by the Dutch
educational publisher ‘Zwijsen’. The program provides learners
with ample opportunities to practice their numeric skills. During
task performance, the pupil can consult different ‘virtual coaches’,
like ‘The coach’, ‘Plato’, ‘grandpa’ and four ‘cuddly toys’. Each
coach supports the learning activities of the learner in its own way.
Like the ‘coach’, he explains the meaning of a certain activity,
makes motivational remarks en gives stamps when a sum is carried
out fast and correctly. ‘Plato’ the dog is the pupil’s ‘friend’.
He helps a pupil everywhere, when possible. ‘Grandpa’ on the
other hand, explains a sum and helps a pupil to start a calculation
activity. Finally, the ‘cuddly toys’; each ‘cuddly toy’ represents
and supports a specific calculation activity, like dividing or
combining numbers.
Figure 1: Drill and Practice - 'Plato en de rekenspiegel'
Contrary to drill and practice programs, tutorials support the acquisition of knowledge and/or skills.
Tutorials mostly offer pre-defined sequences to build up the desired knowledge and skills. They often apply
immediate feedback to guide learning in an effective way. Tutorials are very common in learning software
applications (for example: But tutorials may also serve instructional purposes in
school subjects. The reputation of tutorials is better then that of drill and practice programs, although also
tutorials fit more easily in a tradition of knowledge transmission then in more constructivist visions on teaching
and learning.
The ‘law of cosines’ is an example of a tutorial for the subject area
Mathematics. The tutorial is developed by the International
Education Software [IES].
In this tutorial the learner gets information about the law of
cosines. First, the most important formulas are presented. In the
second part of this tutorial the theorem is proved by means of five
arguments supported by means of a figure (see I).
At the bottom of this webbased tutorial (scrolling down the site),
the learner can carry out some tasks about the ‘law of cosines’ in a
Java Applet.
Figure 2: Tutorial – ‘The law of cosines’
Multimedia (or hypermedia) refer to programs that contain text, images and sound which are interacted
in a non-linear structure. The structure of the information may best be typified as randomly sequenced.
Like tutorials, also multimedia are primarily designed for the acquisition of knowledge. The essential difference
between the two lies in the organization of information: linear or branched sequences in tutorials and randomly
sequences in multimedia programs. This latter sequence allows user to pursuit according to a self-chosen path.
Moreover, multimedia programs usually have a large amount of the information codified in a non-text way, such
as pictures, animations and video. Presenting information in a multimedia program is especially appropriate in a
ill-structured and complex knowledge domains in which opinions differ. Teacher knowledge is an example of
such a domain. Therefore multimedia are apt for teacher education. In Figure 3 an illustration of such a program,
in the form of a multimedia case, is pictured.
The MUST (Multimedia in Science and Technology) multimedia-
case ‘Kleur & Licht’ [Colour & Light] is a multimedia-program for
pre-service teachers. The MUST-project is a joint venture on
behalf of three Teacher Education Colleges, the National Institute
for Curriculum Development and the University of Twente in the
Netherlands. The project aims at developing multimedia-cases and
support tools for Dutch teacher education.
In the ‘Colour & Light’ production the overall theme is the
learning process that starts from pupil’s pre-concept.
Figure 3: Multimedia – MUST multimedia-case ‘Kleur & Licht’
Simulations are programs that contain a model of a system or a process (De Jong & Van Joolingen,
1998). The manipulation of variables is essential for learning with simulations. Allessi and Trollip (2001) give a
simple but clear distinction between two types of simulations. Either, simulations are about something or about
how to do something (p.214). The former (physical simulations) focuses on an object or a phenomenon, the
latter (procedural simulations), concentrates on a sequence of actions to reach a goal. Physical simulations may
have a time component, which implies that users run a simulation, for example, about photosynthesis, as the
system unfolds. Time is not a factor in for example a simulation about ‘The influence of the number of foxes on
the population of rabbits’, because the learner may iteratively manipulate the variables, by going back to a
default option and start the process with other values.
Simulations are sometimes perceived as archetypes for the power computer technology may bring to education
and are therefore often associated with constructivist orientations. However, simulations may also designed with
a behavioristic orientation in mind. Despite of the orientation, the educational potential of computer simulations
is high, because simulations optimally use the interactive possibilities of computer technology. Moreover,
simulations allow to handle situations that would be too dangerous or time-consuming in real life. The flight
simulator, such as ‘Microsoft Flightsimulator 2000’ is a well-known example of a simulation that enable pilots
to train crash scenario’s. An example of a physical simulation is pictured in Figure 4.
note. Starting point of the simulation:
note. Moment of collision (after pressing start):
These physical simulations are programs which focus on an object. Above, two screen captures of such a simulation are presented about
‘elastic and inelastic collision’.
In the left figure the learner can change the variables ‘Mass’ and ‘Velocity’ of the red and the blue wagon. By pressing the ‘Start-button’,
the learner can see which consequences the adaptations have with regards to the course of the collision (right figure).
URL: (
Figure 4: Simulations – a physical simulations about elastic and inelastic collision
Educational Games
Educational games are sometimes perceived as simulations. However, games neither necessarily are
based on a model of reality, nor is playing a game mainly aimed at learning such a model. Nevertheless,
sometimes the distinction is difficult. For example, high quality business games are best classified as
simulations, because a model of reality ground their operation. But there are also computer games, for example
combat games that are only designed for entertainment and do not have any educational value. Games are
difficult to define and may be best described by some characteristics such as: rules, points, winning and losing,
coping with pressure, skill & luck and so on. Educational games have a (often hidden) learning purpose. The
knowledge and skills are imparted entertainingly into the game. The new words educatainment or
funderstanding refer to this integration of play and learning. That brings us to the most distinctive educational
feature of games, their quality to arose high motivation amongst learners.
‘Splat!’ is an online educational game about number estimation. In
this game the player helps the mop ‘Greg Gunk’ to make the
yellow smiley ‘Sunny Jim’ disappear. In this game ‘Sunny Jim
rotates around ‘Greg Gunk’.
The player has to estimate the angle between the stalk of the mop
and the position of ‘Sunny Jim’. After entering this angle in the
fill-box on the screen, ‘Greg Gunk’ makes the rotation and fires
some green soap. If the estimated angle is correct then the green
soap hits ‘Sunny Jim’. After hitting ‘Sunny Jim’ for five times, the
remainder time will be converted to points en the player enters the
next level of the game. So, the better the player estimates the angle
between the stalk of the mop and the position of ‘Sunny Jim’, his
or her score will be.
Figure 5: Educational Games – ‘Splat’, on online game about number estimation
A broad class of digital learning materials consists of computer tools which are basically developed to
facilitate teaching and learning. There are tools for writing, calculating, communicating and so on. These tools
are not content-related, and most of them, such as word processing programs, are not designed with an
educational purpose in mind. Some tools, such as ‘De Junior Bos@tlas’ [the Junior Atlas, see Figure 6] and ‘De
interactieve Flora van Nederland’ [Interactive Flora of the Netherlands, see Figure 7], are especially designed
for education. And there is also a gray area between general and educational purposes. So, there is a wide
variety of computer tools that may serve educational purposes. An encompassing classification of tools is very
difficult to formulate (Allessi & Trollip, 2001). In order to provide some structure, we label the computer tools
in the following broad categories:
databases and encyclopedias;
electronic performance support systems [EPSS];
communication and cooperative environment;
new tutees.
Databases and encyclopedias
Databases and encyclopedias are topic-related collections of information. The emphasis of these tools is on
quick information search and retrieval and not on (in-depth) learning. Although not always designed for
educational purposes, the use databases and encyclopedias, also in non-digital form, have impacted education
since a long time.
Thinking about geography without an atlas, or preparing a paper without an encyclopedia would be
difficult. Adding the power of computer technology to these kind of tools has at least following advantages:
access of information is quicker and there are a number of search-entries;
up-date of information at a regular basis (WWW). Also on CD-ROM an up-date is much cheaper then
reprinting complete volumes of for example an encyclopedia;
information in the database on the web may be linked to all kind other online information sources;
databases are sometimes modifiable, so they may become tailor-made.
The educational potential of digital databases on the web is indisputable, because of the easy access to enormous
amounts of information. However, the use of databases requires elaborated search and interpretation skills of the
users, otherwise they may get lost in cyberspace. Therefore there is a growing amount of databases designed
with a specials educational purpose in mind. In Figure 6 and Figure 7 we present two examples.
‘De Junior Bos@tlas’ is a tool with a clear educational purpose,
published by the Dutch educational publisher ‘Wolters-Noordhoff.
It is a digital atlas, , available in three versions: (a) Topography of
The Netherlands; (b) Topography of Europe and (c) Topography of
The World.
The tool is especially designed and developed for primary
geography education. The colorful program consists of five main-
modules, which are (1) a practice module, (2) a quiz-module, (3) a
game-module, (4) search-module and finally (5) a view-module.
These five modules can be used to learn more of the topography of
The Netherlands, Europe and the World.
Figure 6: Database and encyclopedias – ‘De Junior Bos@tlas’
‘De interactieve Flora’ [Interactive Flora] is a digital determination
tool for secondary Dutch Science education.
The Interactive Flora is an integral part of the Dutch textbook for
Primary Science education ‘Biology for you’ [‘Biology for you’],
published by the Dutch educational publisher ‘Malmberg’.
Students can use this Interactive Flora to determine, analyze and
label different kinds of plants and flowers by means of the
Figure 7: Database and encyclopedias – ‘De interactieve Flora van Nederland’
Electronic Performance Support Systems [EPSS]
According to Gery (1991) an EPSS provides integrated information, advice and learning opportunities
to improve user performance. Stevens and Stevens (1995, p.238) define an EPSS as a ‘computer-based tool
designed to support access to job or task information by providing any or all of the following: training, reference
information and expert advice, on demand as needed by the worker.’ In spite of the fact that there are many
names and descriptions given to an EPSS, the most important function of an EPSS is to improve the job or task
performance by means of a computer. Based on the different descriptions for an EPSS, Nieveen (1997) defines
an EPSS as follows: ‘An EPSS is a computer-based system which provides integrated support in the format of
any or all of the following: job aids (including conceptual and procedural information and advice),
communication aids and learning opportunities, in order to improve the user performance.’ An example of an
EPSS to support teachers’ task performance is presented below.
CASCADE-SEA (Computer Assisted Curriculum Analysis,
Design and Evaluate for Science Education in Africa) is a project
developed at the faculty Educational Technology of the University
of Twente. The project aims towards learning more about how the
computer can play a supporting role in curriculum development
and support teacher learning. CASCADE-SEA focuses on
improvement of secondary level science and mathematics curricula
in the southern African region. The support, offered by
CASCADE-SEA can among others be seen as: creation of teacher
guides and lesson plans, help less-confident teachers understand
how they can improve the quality of the lessons they teach.
Figure 8: Electronic Performance Support Systems – ‘Cascade-Sea’
Communication and collaborative environments
Maybe the most salient factor of the internet is its functionality as communication medium.
E-mail, bulletin boards, chat-rooms and audio- and video-conferencing are devices that facilitate all kinds of
communication forms and patterns amongst people. Most of these devices do not have a strong association with
education. But, communication and collaboration programs can potentially be powerful educational tools, when
they met the following requirements (Weber, 1999):
There is an educationally relevant issue;
This issue is placed within an educational context in which teaching and learning principles are applied;
An institution (school, company, university etc.) provides the infrastructure and takes the educational
An essential feature of communication and collaborative environments is that they permit learning
beyond school and country borders. Well known are the various climate and weather projects in which students
from different countries communicate about and learn from each other's weather reports. Examples of
communication and collaboration tools are pictured in Figure 9 and Figure 10.
‘Kid E-mail’ is a Dutch project, focused on communication
between pupils, teachers en curriculum-developers.
The developers of this project decided to deploy E-mail when
pupils are working on problem solving design-activities. Pupils can
use E-mail to ask other pupils or teachers to support them during
the task performance. For this ‘Kid E-mail’ project, a series of
lessons have been developed.
Figure 9: Communication and collaboration environments - ‘Kid E-mail’
The ‘Learning In/with Virtual Environments’ (LIVE) Research and
Development group conducts research and development projects
exploring how virtual reality technologies can be used to enhance
learning environments.
An example of a LIVE-project, is ‘The Virtual Solar Collaborative
Support Web Site’. This is a web-site that supports student-teacher
and student-student communication, collaboration, collection of
resources, , assembling collaborative projects, course organization
and administration, and a mechanism to turn in assignments.
Figure 10: Communication and collaborative environments –‘The Live-project’
Especially in distance education but also in campus-programs of universities, there is a growing use of
electronic or digital learning environments. Characteristic for these learning environments is that they provide
the technical facilities (hardware, software and telecommunication-infrastructure) that support (cf. Droste, 2000;
Collis, 1996):
The process of learning;
The communication, necessary for learning;
The organization of learning.
The new tutees
The new tutees are programs in which the content or the way of action has to be delivered by the users.
There are different types of these tools, namely: tools that are used to create, edit, arrange and complement text,
music and fixed or moving pictures (Microsoft Word, Adobe PhotoShop, see Figure 11 ) and tools that are used
to develop new programs, like computer programming and authoring languages (HTML-editors, Microsoft
Visual Basic, Macromedia Authorware, C++).
Original pictures:
Edited picture:
An example of a new tutee is ‘Adobe PhotoShop’. This software package can be used to create, edit and arrange pictures.
The figures above illustrate how a Drawing tool can be used to edit some historical figures, like ‘Martin Luther’, ‘Napoleon’ and a
figure out the Dark ages and replace the original heads by the head of another person. The figure on the left contains the Photoshop
environment with the original pictures. The Figure on the right is an example of the edited pictures.
Figure 11: A New Tutee – ‘Adobe PhotoShop’
Implications for the curriculum
In this section we explore the implications different types of digital materials may emit in a curriculum
framework. The attention is focused on the innovative potential of the materials. This potential is closely aligned
to the role of the teacher and the learner. Moreover, attention is paid to a real-life context of learning and, if
relevant, the content covered in the materials.
Enrichment and individual student needs
As stated earlier drill and practice programs do not have an innovative image. However, perceived in a
broader curricular framework, these materials may support an educational practice that is more attuned to the
needs of individual students. The big advantage of drill and practice programs is that students can carry out the
tasks at their own pace without much assistance of the teacher. Moreover, especially in the more sophisticated
programs, extensive and tailor-made feedback can be provided. Especially for slow learners, who need more
then average practice to master certain knowledge and skills, drill and practice programs are perfect (and
patient) means.
Drill and practice programs generally do not place the content in a real-life context. Only content with a
clear 'right-wrong' structure is suitable for drill and practice programs. So, the innovative potential of these
programs lies in the possibilities to attune instruction to individual students needs. It gives teachers the
possibility to concentrate on 'higher-order teaching tasks', because the computer takes over the simple routine
correction of answers and provision of new exercises.
Tutorials are most akin to textbooks. An important difference is that a textbook series covers a large
part of the curriculum, whereas the scope of a tutorial is much smaller. For example, tutorials in the form of
Java-applets (See Figure 2), serve as interactive illustrations of topics in the mathematics syllabus instead of
covering large parts of this syllabus.
From a perspective of curriculum innovation, tutorials merely substitute and elaborate some functions the
textbook fulfill. They may be perceived as a means to attune education more to individual student needs.
Especially for learning to handle new software, tutorials makes an instructor or teacher redundant. However,
tutorials are not the types of digital learning materials that are closely related to curriculum innovation, because
the role of the teacher and learner usually do not change dramatically, and many tutorials are closely related to
traditional (school) subjects. Consequently, they do not bring real-life contexts to education.
Both drill and practice programs and tutorials bring forth the capacity to individualize education.
However, the innovative potential of these programs is limited within the traditional setting of schooling. So,
these programs may enrich options within the curriculum but they cannot be supportive to alter the curriculum
From individual instruction to self-directed learning
Multimedia programs designed for educational purposes often contain a large amount of information.
Contrary to a tutorial there is no pre-structured path to go from the beginning tot the end of the program. The
random sequence of multimedia programs offer a high amount of learner-control in reaching goals and
answering questions. Paradoxically, this freedom for the learners has also important implications for the role of
the teacher. The large amounts of information in a multimedia program may easily overwhelm the students. So,
the role of the teacher is to provide adequate guidance and scaffolding to ensure in-depth information
processing. It is also the teacher's task to guide student learning processes, taking into account student
capabilities, interest and motivation. But the teacher should also warrant that the requirements of the curriculum
are met.
Another characteristic of a multimedia program is that a substantial part of the information is partly codified in
(moving) pictures in stead of text. How learning processes with support of non-text materials in multimedia
programs proceed is not a well-researched field, yet. Consequently, there is hardly any knowledge base for
teachers to rely on when incorporating these programs into their curriculum. Communities of practice seems to
be a feasible professional development arrangement to acquire such a knowledge base, because these
communities may develop a knowledge base that is grounded in practice.
The content coverage of multimedia programs is rather small, the educational value lies more in the thorough
and multifaceted way the content is presented. Multimedia are apt to bring real world information and problems
to school settings, because the designers of these programs are not hindered by a fix amount of pages as is the
case in textbooks design, nor do they have to bother about a predefined sequence of information. Moreover, the
use of video and stills are more fit to bring an outdoor school spirit into the program.
Simulations (and games) are also characterized by the high amount of learner control. Moreover, in the
way these programs react in the user actions often shows an intelligent interaction between man and machine.
Contrary to most of the multimedia programs, the information in a simulation is almost always well-defined and
limited to the model to be learned or features of the process to be simulated. Therefore, the role of the teacher is
not helping learners to find their way in an high and loosely connected amount of information, but the teacher
needs to support the students to make sense of their actions. Otherwise working with a simulation may have a
trial and error character, and do not evoke in-depth processing of information leading to high quality learning.
Simulations with underlying conceptual models are frequently found in the sciences and in economy.
Traditionally these subjects are taught in a rather context-free way with emphasis on mathematical procedures to
describe the relationships in the models. In simulations, the information is more context-bound and the task of
the learner is to build intuitively an understanding of the model underlying the specific context. Teachers,
however, have no experience, neither from their own high school period, nor from their preservice education
program with this kind of knowledge building. Therefore guiding the learning processes with simulations is an
unfamiliar task for teachers. This holds especially true for conceptual simulations, in procedural simulations,
such as a flight simulator, are more conveniently incorporated in professional training programs and working
routine of instructors.
Beyond curriculum…. ?
Computer tools in education may refer to a complete different line of thinking about the function of
ICT in teaching-learning processes. The computer is no longer viewed as means to deliver information but as a
tool to extend the cognitive power of the human mind. Computer can calculate much better, and store larger
amounts of information and retrieve this information more effectively then human beings. Using the computer
as a tool implies that people achieve results that would be otherwise beyond their reach. Including computer
tools in education implies that there is a swift from learning from computer to learning with computers
(cf. Jonassen & Reeves, 1996). The integration of ICT in learning refers to students entering into an intellectual
partnership with technologies (Jonassen, Myres & McKillop, 1996). Learning is perceived as a research and
discovery activity guided by the questions of the learner and promoting in-depth understanding. Also the way
evidence of learning is given differs widely from traditional paper and pencil tests. In digital portfolio's students
presents in hypermedia environment what they have learned.
This revolutionary perspective asks for a rethinking of the curriculum concept. In this view a curriculum is no
longer a plan for learning to be implemented by the teacher and followed by the students. On the contrary, the
learners become the designers of their own curriculum. However, this does not imply that there is no significant
role of teacher. Experiences with students surfing the Internet for educational purposes show that they need
modeling and scaffolding from teachers. Otherwise they get lost in cyberspace, and, despite all the good
intentions, learning turn to a negative and demotivating experience. So the role of the teacher becomes very
prominent, because a pre-defined curriculum is absent. But, teachers do not have experiences nor professional
routines to guide learning processes in open environments. It seems that teacher need to go through knowledge
construction processes with computer technology themselves, before they may develop ideas how productively
guide student learning in technology-rich open learning environments. University-school partnerships in which
researchers and teachers collaboratively develop and investigate such environments seems to be a viable option
to reconcile utopist ideas with down-to-earth practice.
The revolutionary character of learning with technology is not only to be found in the role of the learner, but
also in the absence of content divided according to the lines of academic disciplines. Especially the idea that
students are engaged in authentic learning means that the content is situated in real-life contexts and therefore
emphasize cross-curriculum learning. Tools, such as databases, collaborative workspaces and all kinds of new
tutees have the potential to support radical educational change, however, whether this potential becomes reality
depends on actions of human beings and not on technologies, how sophisticated they may be. Also the most
technologically advanced educational tools may be used in very traditional way.
Summary and conclusions
This chapter was focused on the role of digital curriculum materials in curriculum reform. In order to
structure the line of reasoning a typology of digital materials was presented, in which short descriptions are
given of the different types and each description is followed by an example. Subsequently, the impact the
materials may have on the curriculum is discussed along lines of the role of the teacher and learner, context-
richness and the content issues.
An overall conclusion of this chapter is that the type of digital material alone does not make a difference in
education, but the way teachers and learners use the materials is the issue that counts. However, specific
characteristics of digital materials determines the direction of innovative use. For example drill and practice
programs may be helpful to individualize instruction and make it more teacher-independent. In this way these
types of materials are supportive to enact a curriculum more attuned to individual students needs.
Multimedia programs and simulations allow students to pursue authentic learning tasks. However, there is a
growing evidence that teacher support is indispensable to provoke in-depth learning. How teachers should
provide this support effectively without harming self-directed learning is a largely unresolved issue yet.
Technology as a many-sided information and communication tool has the potential to alter education
completely. Student use of these tools make achievements possible that would otherwise be far beyond their
reach. Solving real-life problems by means of collaborative groupwork with the use of computer tools makes a
curriculum based on separate academic disciplines outdated. However how to organize, guide, and evaluate
learning processes on a daily basis in which computer tools play a dominant role is a white spot in curriculum
development and research. But the idea that the simple availability and accessibility of all-kinds of information
and communication tools would solve persistent issues in education turned out to be largely naïve. We think
time has come for thorough developmental research projects in which practitioners and researcher work together
to design and evaluate the curriculum of the future. Such projects seeks for an understanding that goes far
beyond quick and fuzzy fixes, and ask for long term commitment of the participants.
Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and Development ( third ed.).
Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.
Collis, B.A. (1996). Tele-learning in a digital world; the future of distance learning. International Thomson
Computer Press: London / Boston.
Droste, J. (2000). Advies keuze Teleleerplatform 2000. Surf Educatief: Utrecht.
Gery, G.J. (1991). Electronic Performance Support Systems: How and why to remake the workplace through the
strategic application of technology. Boston, MA: Weingarten.
Jonassen D. H, Myers J. M., & McKillop, A. M. (1996). From constructivism to constructionism: Learning with
hypermedia/multimedia rather than from it. In B.G. Wilson (Ed.). Constructivist learning environments:
Case studies in instructional design. (pp. 93-106). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology
Jonassen, D.H. & Reeves, T.C. (1996). Learning with technology: Using computers as cognitive tools. In
Jonasson, D.H. (ed.) Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technologies, pp.693-
719. New York: Macmillan
Jong, De, T., & van Joolingen, W.R. (1998). Scientific discovery learning with computer
simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, 68, 179-202.
Nieveen, N. M. (1997). Computer Support for Curriculum Developers: A study on the potential of computer
support in the domain of formative curriculum evaluation. Enschede: University of Twente.
Stevens, G.H. & Stevens, E.F. (1995). Designing electronic performance support tools: Improving workplace
performance with hypertext, hypermedia and multimedia. (p.235-238). Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Educational Technology Publications.
Taylor, R. (ed.) (1980). The Computer in the school: Tutor, tool, tutee. New York: Teachers College Press.
Weber, W. (1999). Classification of new media for learning.
... Critique of this situation can be found in constructivist curriculum theory [1,2], which views curriculum development as a dynamic process involving learners, with sequences "emerging in the interaction between the learner and the environment" [3]. However, in the absence of a curriculum as an educational wayfinding aid, students require other forms of guidance to avoid becoming lost in e-learning space [4] and not reaching their goals, or taking unduly long to do so. ...
Full-text available
Tattersall, C., Janssen, J., Van den Berg, B., & Koper, R. (2006). Social Insect-inspired e-Learning: Open Research Questions. Unpublished manuscript
... In parallel with this major change in the delivery of education, and informed by constructivist educational theories, the nature of curriculum is undergoing reassessment. Rather than a fixed sequence of study, pre-determined by the teacher, these theories view curriculum as a process of co-development between teacher and learner (Granger, 1993;Kirkpatrick, 2001;Phelps, Hase, & Ellis, 2005;Van den Berg, Blijleven, & Jansen, 2004). Curriculum becomes a spectrum, extending from highly constrained situations in which all is fixed, through situations in which some room for manoeuvre is offered to learners, to open, unconstrained contexts in which sequence "emerges in the interaction between the learner and the environment" (Akhras & Self, 2002). ...
Full-text available
Purpose – This paper aims to define the need for a route modelling language in e-learning, identifying requirements and candidate languages, before providing a recommended approach. Design/methodology/approach – Several sources of requirements are drawn from the literature then used to review available approaches to route modelling. The best candidate is then applied in a number of case studies to check its applicability. Findings – An existing open standard, IMS learning design, is identified as meeting the requirements. To date the standard has been applied in a different area, so the match to the route modelling problem is favorable. Research limitations/implications – The scope of the work excluded an examination of requirements arising in the lifecycle management of routes; further investigation should check this point. Practical implications – Practical application is hampered by the lack of an appropriate e-learning infrastructure in which to apply the approach. Pilot infrastructures should become available in the next 18 months to two years. Originality/value – The work puts an existing e-learning specification in a new light, avoiding the need to develop a new language. Since tools and experience with the specification are already available, prospects for its adoption in a new role are favorable.
Full-text available
This study aims to see how technology has determined our learning system through the use of ICT in online learning. The use of technology in the education sector brings a massive transformation in our learning system. In addition to that, the emergence of Covid 19 has also changed the education system into online learning. This study uses a qualitative approach and systematic literature review approach. Data collection used are observation and semi-structured interview with 2 informants that actively involved in online learning. The validity of this research use source triangulation. The result of this study shows that the ICT is used in every stages of learning process, from preparation, delivery and evaluation stage. Online learning cannot be separated from the role of technology, and it is shown that technology has determined online learning process.
Full-text available
Her ne kadar biz öğretim teknologları daha planlı, daha bilimsel temellere dayalı, daha izlenebilir ve iyileştirilebilir süreçler öneriyor olsak da yadsınamaz bir gerçek; bilgi ve iletişim teknolojileri (BİT) ve getirdiği yeniliklerin öğren¬me-öğretme süreçlerine hızla ve kontrol edilemez biçimde etki etmekte oldu¬ğudur. Bu durum uygulamada olduğu gibi bilimsel araştırmalarda da böyledir. Bilim yazına eğitim teknolojisi alanından öte, eğitimbilim yayınları kapsamında yaklaşıldığında; eğitim, özellikle de öğretim süreçlerinde yeni teknolojik araçların kullanımıyla ilgili çalışmaların çokluğu ve üretenlerin çeşitliliği dikkat çekicidir. Farklı entegrasyon uygulama/araştırmaları eğitim sistemine dahil edi¬len teknoloji kaynakları açısından benzeşse de nedenleri, amaçları, yöntemleri, odakları, etkileri ve etkenleri açısından kültürden kültüre, alandan alana, hatta yaklaşımdan yaklaşıma önemli ölçüde farklılıklar göstermektedir. Esasen ortak nokta bu maliyetli ve geniş kapsamlı sürecin belirsiz, çok katmanlı ve karmaşık bir doğada seyrediyor olmasıdır. Tüm bu karmaşa, sağlıklı bilimsel gerekçeler ya da varsayımlar üretmenin ötesinde zaman zaman da farklı bakışlara, deneyim¬lere ve çıkarımlara kulak vermeyi gerekli kılmaktadır… Elinizdeki kitap bu düşüncelerle ve elbette küçük bir ölçekte, eğitim ve öğ¬retimde teknoloji entegrasyonu süreçlerini farklı açılardan ve çok disiplinli bir bakışla ele almayı amaçlamaktadır.
Full-text available
Scientific discovery learning is a highly self-directed and constructivistic form of learning. A computer simulation is a type of computer-based environment that is very suited for discovery learning, the main task of the learner being to infer, through experimentation, characteristics of the model underlying the simulation. In this article we give a review of the observed effectiveness and efficiency of discovery learning in simulation environments together with problems that learners may encounter in discovery learning, and we discuss how simulations may be combined with instructional support in order to overcome these problems.
COGNITIVE TOOLS are computer-based applications that are normally used as productivity software. However, these applications may also function as knowledge representation formalisms that require learners to think critically when using them to represent content being studied or what they already know about a subject. Applications such as databases, spreadsheets, semantic networks, expert systems, multimedia/hypermedia construction, can function as computer-based cognitive tools that function as intellectual partners with learners to expand and even amplify their thinking, thereby changing the role of learners in college classrooms to knowledge constructors rather than information reproducers. Cognitive tools are examples of learning with technologies rather than from them.
Nineteen essays by five pioneers in the field of computers in education are presented in this volume. The essays provide a foundation for understanding the basic issues involved in using computers in schools, the teacher's role in helping the student make full use of computing, and the general limitations of computer use. A framework is presented for considering computers in education which identifies three functions of a computer: as a tutor, as a tool, or as a student (tutee). A computer's tutor function requires expert programming so that flexible computer-assisted instruction can be provided to students. A computer's tool function requires only that some useful capability (such as statistical analysis) be programmed into the computer. In the student or tutee function of a computer, a human tutor teaches the computer, thereby enhancing human learning and reducing software costs. Other topics of discussion include interactive learning, heuristic strategies, pre- and post-college computer education, teaching children to think, mathematics education, the future of computers in education, and teachers and computer-assisted instruction. (Author/DB)
Tele-learning in a digital world: The future of distance learning
  • B A Collis
  • BA Collis
Collis, B.A. (1996). Tele-learning in a digital world; the future of distance learning. International Thomson Computer Press: London / Boston.
Computer support for curriculum deverlopers: A study on the potential of computer support in the domain of formative evaluation (doctoral dissertation)
  • N M Nieveen
  • NM Nieveen
Nieveen, N. M. (1997). Computer Support for Curriculum Developers: A study on the potential of computer support in the domain of formative curriculum evaluation. Enschede: University of Twente.