How We Learn (Media & Technology Across the Lifespan)

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Learning Media and Technologies Across the Lifespan

Stephen Petrina, Principal Investigator
Franc Feng, Co-Investigator

SSHRC Standard Research Grant (2009-Present)

The primary objective of this project is to investigate how properties of new technologies and new modes of engagement interact to affect learning across the lifespan.  Whereas in the not too distant past Canadians could draw lines between how, when and where they were learning and not learning, nowadays flexible or mobile devices offer the potential for learning virtually anything, anywhere at any time.  One implication is that the “basic” skill set of competencies and literacies required by a capable student or citizen is evolving.  Another implication is that emphases are shifting in business and education to the process of learning, or meta-learning.  Commentators increasingly identify various activities outside classrooms (e.g., gaming, mobile device texting and recording) as indicative that the properties of new technologies (e.g., flexibility, interactivity, mobility, modularity) and new modes of engagement (e.g., continuous partial attention, asynchronous, synchronous, semi-synchronous) are changing the process of learning (Jenkins et al., 2006), but there is little empirical evidence.  The interaction of these two primary variables is fundamental to the learning sciences but is poorly understood, and field and laboratory-based research is urgently needed to help educators and managers take advantage of new media and technologies.

How We LeaRn (Technology Across the Lifespan)

Stephen Petrina, Principal Investigator

Mary Bryson, Teresa Dobson, Franc Feng, Samia Khan, Don Krug, John Willinsky, Co-Investigators

SSHRC Standard Research Grant (2006-2009)
The purpose of this research is to provide an empirically rich description and explanation of how we learn technology across the lifespan. The primary objective is to investigate how people differentially assimilate new technologies into everyday routines. Exactly what, which or why technologies are assimilated into everyday activities of children, adolescents, teens, adults and families is fairly well documented (e.g., Canadian Inter@ctive Reid Report; Pew Internet Life Project). Our primary objective addresses how this is happening; the emphasis is on ‘how we learn,’ requiring a documentation and analysis of cognitive processes and systems that engagement with new technologies entails. How are cognitive processes distributed across new technology environments or information ecologies? Utilizing Hutchins’ (1996) theory of distributed cognition, the focus is on the ‘system of person-in-interaction-with-technology’ rather than on individual thinkers using instrumental tools. Conventional research on cognition tends to dismiss technology as merely instrumental to performing tasks rather than central to cognition. A second objective is to establish baselines for age cohorts and generate hypotheses for how we learn technology across the lifespan. And a third objective is to explore and refine frameworks, methods, and networks for studying this process. Researchers recognise the link between lifelong learning policies and technology (e.g., Field, 2002; Field and Leicester, 2002; OECD, 2000), but are only beginning to conceptualise research designs to address how we learn technology across the lifespan (Gorard & Selwyn, 2005; Poynton,2005; Selwyn & Gorard, 2003) and within family structures (Meszaros, 2004).

Theses and Dissertations completed or underway @ SSHRC SRG # 410-2006-1679:
Gutica, Mirela. (2008). Emotional Design: An Investigation into Designers’ Perceptions of Incorporating Emotion into Software. M.A. Thesis.

Wang, Yifei. (2008). Designing Chatbot Interfaces for Language Learning: Ethnographic Research into Affect and Users’ Experiences. M.A. Thesis.

Brennan, Karen. (2007). Building A Community Of (New Media) Practice: Sharing Learning Stories From A Videoblogging Collective. M.A. Thesis.

Hall, Lauren. (2007). Relationality, Hybridity, Awareness: Being with AIBO. M.A. Thesis.

Kim, Juyun. (in progress, Fall 2009). An Actor-Network of Serious Gameplay in South Korea. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Hall, Lauren. (in progress, Spring 2011). Youth Mobility, Identity, and Environmental Awareness. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Rusnak, PJ. (in progress, Spring 2011). Learning :: Thinking :: Playing @ Digital Media & Technology— Children Designing Video Games for Children. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Trey, Lana. (in progress, Spring 2011). Supporting Lifelong Learning for Health and Healthy Aging through Digital Literacies. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Wang, Yifei. (in progress, Spring 2012). Designing A Human-Computer Dialogue System For Foreign Language Learning. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Publications to Date

Petrina, S., Castro, J., Feng, F., Hall, L., James, K., Kojima, D., Rusnak, P.J. & Trey, L. (submitted 9 May 2008). On learning, and the learning arts, sciences and technologies. Learning Inquiry.

Petrina, S., Hall, L., Kojima, D. & Rusnak, P. (in progress). Curriculum studies in relation to the field of educational technology. In C. Kridel & W. F. Schubert (Eds.), Encyclopedia of curriculum studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (just starting, mid August 2008 deadline)

*ITEA wants a summary of the research (February keynote) for The Technology Teacher

Brennan, K (2006). The managed teacher: Emotional labour and technology. Educational Insights, 10(2), 55-65.

Brennan, K., Feng, F., Hall, L. & Petrina, S. (2007). On the complexity of technology and the technology of complexity. Paper at the Fourth Complexity Science and Educational Research conference, 18-20 February, Vancouver, BC. (40 pp.)

Brennan, K., Feng, F., Hall, L. & Petrina, S. (2007). On the complexity of technology and the technology of complexity. In. B. Davis (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth Complexity Science and Educational Research conference, 47-73.

Brennan, K., Feng, F., Hall, L., Kojima, D. & Petrina, S. (2007, 27 June). Researching cognition and technology: Dynamically responsive learning environments. Ed-Media World Conference, Vancouver, 25-29 June 2007. (6 pp.)

Guo, R. X., Dobson, T. & Petrina, S. (2008). Digital natives, digital immigrants: An analysis of age and ICT competency in teacher education. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 38(3), 235-254.

James, K. & Petrina, S. (2006). After-lifelong learning: A eulogium. Taboo, 10(2), 5-23.

Kim, J. & Petrina, S. (2006). Emotional laboring in the video game, The Sims: A curriculum of emotional experience. Educational Insights, 10(2), 84-94.

Kim, S. (2006). Capitorgs and free/libre and open source software (FLOSS): Toward critical technological literacy and free/libre and open source society (FLOSS). Educational Insights, 10(2), 6-16.

Park, H., Khan, S. & Petrina, S. (in press, November 2008). ICT in science education: A quasi-experimental study of achievement, attitudes toward science, and career aspirations of Korean middle school students. International Journal of Science Education, 1-23.

Petrina, S., Bartosh, O., Guo, R. & Stanley-Wilson, L. (2008). ICT literacies and policies in teacher education: A survey of preservice teachers at the University of British Columbia, 2001-2004 (pp. 87-108). In T. Di Petta (Ed.), The Emperor’s new computer. Amsterdam: Sense.

Petrina, S. & Guo, R. (2007). Developing a large-scale assessment of technological literacy. In M. Hoepfl & M. Lindstrom (Eds.), Assessment in technology education (pp. 157-180). New York: Glencoe-McGraw Hill.

Petrina, S., Feng, F. & Kim, J. (2008). Researching cognition and technology: How we learn across the lifespan. International Journal of Technology and Design Education. 18(4), 375-396.

Presentations to Date

Petrina, S., Feng, F. and Kim, J. (2004, March 18-20). How we learn (about, through and for technology). Paper presented at the 14th Annual Pupils’ Attitudes Toward Technology Conference and 66th Annual International Technology Education Association Convention, Albuquerque, NM. (20 pp.)

Kim, S. & Petrina, S. (2007, 12 October). The sources of production. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, Montreal, 11-13 October. (9 pp.)

Brennan, K., Feng, F., Hall, L., Kojima, D. & Petrina, S. (2007, 27 June). Researching cognition and technology: Dynamically responsive learning environments. Paper presented at the Ed-Media World Conference, Vancouver, 25-29 June 2007. (6 pp.)

Brennan, K., Feng, F., Hall, L. & Petrina, S. (2007, 18-21 February). On the complexity of technology and the technology of complexity. Paper presented at the Fourth Complexity Science and Educational Research conference, 18-20 February, Vancouver, BC.

Petrina, S., Hall, L., Kojima, D., Rusnak, PJ. & Trey, L. (2008, 21-23 February). How we learn (technology across the lifespan). Keynote address given at the 70th annual conference of the International Technology Education Association. Salt lake City, UT, 21-23 February.

Compton, V., Feng, F., Hall, L., Kojima, D., Petrina, S., Rusnak, PJ. & Trey, L. (2008, 2 June). Methodologies for researching how people learn technologies. Presentation at the annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education and Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. Vancouver, BC, 30 May-3 June.

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