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Cognitive Approaches to Understanding the Challenge of Learning by Means of Computers and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)

Cognitive Approaches to Understanding the Challenge of Learning by Means of Computers and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
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Author(s): Jocelyn M. Wishart (University of Bristol, UK)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch042

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Abstract

Increased motivation amongst pupils has been readily observed in schools when they are allowed to use computers and other forms of information and communications technology (ICT) (Cox, 1997; Denning, 1997; Wishart & Blease, 1999). In fact, Denning (1997) reports almost universal enthusiasm amongst students for the use of ICT to support their work in schools. That enthusiasm has been seen to double or triple amongst primary school students given a personal digital assistant (PDA) of their own (Whyley, 2006). These handheld devices are small computers that can be used both off- and online via wireless or mobile phone signals. Many psychologists (Light, 1997; Loftus & Loftus, 1983) have used behaviorist theories originating from the work of Thorndike (1898) to describe positive extrinsic reinforcements generated by or associated with the use of computer software. For instance, children find the use of a computer rewarding; they get nearly immediate feedback from the programs on their efforts, which often includes entertaining sound effects, graphics and animations. Therefore, they are more likely to take up opportunities to use ICT in and outside of lessons. What is more, as described by Loftus and Loftus (1983), these rewards arrive in the variable ratio schedule of reinforcement which Skinner (1938) believes is the most compelling.

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