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Where are we going? The Brave New World and Pitfalls

Richard C. Larson, M.I.T.
Session number: 6

Video tutors, simulations, animations, on-line problem solving assistance, on-line laboratories -- all these options can confuse and distract the learner. But, they offer another possibility: encouraging the learner to be responsible for her own knowledge acquisition. Providing arrays of learning support, the learner behaves more like a spelunker exploring vast caves of knowledge and less like a hiker traversing a well-known path. We explore this possibility by presenting several new initiatives at MIT and then "thinking aloud" about how this may play out several years down the road, when internet bandwidth is no longer a constraint. Then the major impediment to our progress is knowing too little about how learners learn. To design truly useful learning environments, we need to study the learning process with the same intensity as scientists studying physical laws of nature.


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