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K-12 Teachers and Learners in an Electronic World: A Review of the Literature. Part II: Learner Issues… Macfadyen, Leah P. Janes, Diane Hawkes, Beth 2004

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   K-12 Teachers and Learners in an Electronic World: A Review of the Literature   Part II: Learner Issues in ICT-mediated Learning    Leah P. Macfadyen Research Associate, The MAPLE Centre, UBC Distance Education & Technology Tel: 604 822 9620;  Email: Leah.Macfadyen@ubc.ca  Diane P. Janes Project Manager/ Instructional Developer, UBC Distance Education & Technology 1170-2329 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada. (* after June 30th 2003: c/o Extension Division, Kirk Hall, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon) Tel: 604 822 0962;  Email: Diane.Janes@ubc.ca  Beth Hawkes Director of Research and Professional Development, UBC Distance Education & Technology Abstract Current literature relating to information and communication technologies (ICT) in K-12 teaching and learning offers positive and cautionary perspectives.  Overall, there exists great optimism about the benefits of ICT-mediated learning for students.  Previously, we reviewed literature on ICTs in K-12 education, with emphasis on technology-supported constructivist learning, the challenges and pedagogical implications of educational technologies, changing roles for teachers, and technology in the classroom.  Below, we review K-12 literature on learner issues that can affect successful learning using ICTs.  We report on learner satisfaction with online learning, current thinking on skills of successful online students, and existing theoretical discussions of technology and learning styles. We review student diversity and ICT-mediated learning, student differences which challenge online learning, and the opportunities offered by ICTs for particular subgroups of learners.  Overall, we offer a snapshot of current literature on effectiveness of ICT-mediated learning from the perspective of the K-12 learner.   Introduction In Part I of this Literature Review (Janes, Macfadyen, & Hawkes, 2003) we surveyed current theory and research on technological change, and on the impact that the introduction of ICTs is having on teaching and learning in K-12 education. We examined theory and case studies which suggest that ICTs can be used to successfully support constructivist learning, and we also surveyed reports of challenging features of online learning.  In particular, we focussed on the challenges of evaluating ICT-mediated learning and student assessment in technology-based learning environments.  We examined writing and research on the pedagogical implications of ICTs: changing roles for teachers, skills and practices of effective online teachers, the challenges of creating online communities of learning and of implementation of technology in the classroom, uses of technology in specific content areas.  Finally, we surveyed literature discussing the outlook for teachers and educational technologies, and the critical need for teacher mentoring and peer support, so that the educational goals and concerns of the discipline remain central to the professional development strategies related to online teaching and learning. In Part II of this review, we survey current literature on K-12 learner issues that can affect successful learning using ICTs.  We report on levels of K-12 learner satisfaction with online learning, current thinking on skills of successful online students, and existing theoretical discussions of technology and learning styles. Importantly, we review literature examining student diversity and ICT-mediated learning: the ways in which individual student differences can make online learning a challenge, and the new opportunities offered by ICTs for particular subgroups of learners.  Overall, we offer a snapshot of current literature on effectiveness of ICT- mediated learning from the perspective of the K-12 learner.  Review Methodology This literature survey was carried out by searching Internet sources and Journal Databases accessible through the UBC Library, between July and October 2002.  Internet searching was carried out using the “Google.ca” search engine, and by manually visiting publication sites for known centres of research and theory in uses of educational technology.  Library indices searched include the ERIC (Educational Resources Information Centre) Database, and the SilverPlatter WebSPIRS Database “The Education Index” (1983-2002), and the e-journal collection at the University of British Columbia and Royal Roads University.  This literature review aims to provide a synthesis of current theory and recent research relevant to the application of Internet and communication technologies (ICTs) in K-12 education. Questions guiding this second part of our review included: • What are the skills of effective online students? What skills are necessary for student success online? • What effect might online learning have on child development, social and personal skills, and independent learning skills? • Is there any data on time use, dropout rates and student completion for online courses? What is known about student satisfaction with online courses? • Which issues of diversity (culture, gender, ability, language skills, technical skills, communication skills, and learning styles) need to be considered when offering online courses?  Student Satisfaction with Online Learning With online learning comes constructivist learning, as teachers move from teacher-centered transmission to learner-centered construction.  While this ‘knowledge building’ is common in classrooms today, it has often been particularly associated with online learning, especially in the post-secondary years.  Solloway & Harris point out that the traditional learning environments that students experienced earlier in their educational history may initially be a barrier that prevents them from participating fully in learner-centred constructivist educational activities. Student perception of the role of the instructor is key in online learning, and contributes to student satisfaction.  As one adult student emailed to his online teacher, "You're the teacher.  It's your job to tell us what to do!" (Solloway & Harris, 1999).  Students, as well as teachers, have to become comfortable with this new educational environment.  This takes time, training and perhaps above all, transformation in thinking and expectations. Nistor (1999) reports that learners most frequently cite lack of instructional support as their greatest challenge in virtual learning environments.  Learners also commonly state that online collaborations failed, that learning contexts were not suited to their own interests and goals, or that the learning activity did not actually make use of the communication medium.  However, Solloway & Harris (1999) found that, with time, technical problems and student frustrations diminished, noting  “…We received fewer desperate communications and more that expressed elation over personal technological triumph… Many of the students expressed joy at one time or another during the semester at their success with the technology as it related to their project or work.”  These authors report that even with the additional early stresses of technology issues and student frustrations, all students exceeded teacher expectations on the level of their final work for the course. Solloway & Harris note some ideas for practice that they feel would facilitate student satisfaction.  They suggest that teachers: • Develop a comprehensive orientation that gives students ample time to familiarize themselves with the application to be used and with pertinent information about the course. This orientation should include: support strategies, resources and personnel available for technical and course assistance (e.g., names of support personnel, hours, how to access, e- mail addresses and phone numbers); expected student behaviors; an explanation of the processes (e.g. grading, team processes and assignment schedule); a clear explanation of the instructor's and others' roles and what is expected from the instructional team. • Survey class participants to determine their technical abilities and their access to necessary technology. • Provide an online, self-directed tutorial that will allow students to acquaint themselves with the application and to go through sample assignments. • Facilitate the sharing of students' ideas and new insights and encourage the involvement of all participants by posing pertinent questions. • Block time on a daily basis to respond to students online. • Encourage student collaboration through team projects and discussion.  The value of discussion is student participation; the amount of instructor intervention should decrease as student expertise increases. Hara & Kling (2000) conducted a case study examination of one online course being taught by an inexperienced new instructor and found that students experienced a number of frustrations which they thought might be “…easy to place…wholly upon the instructor's limitations.”  They argue that a number of interventions are needed in order to increase student satisfaction, namely • The need for the students and instructors to learn how to manage their expectations about when they should be able to have reliable, fast communicative responses from instructors on assignments • The need to teach teachers how the appropriate use of technology and pedagogy could make distance education more beneficial for more students • The need to make available more practitioner literature that effectively identifies the complexities of working and communicating with "new media." • The recognition that high quality education, both on-line and face-to-face, is neither cheap nor easy and that teachers need to be immersed in the literature and practice before teaching online • The suggestion that there may be some success in having students prepared for online learning through orientations and pre-course workshops  Skills of Successful Students An online essay entitled “What Makes a Successful Online Student?” (Illinois Online Network, 2001) suggests that the online student should possess the following qualities: • Open minded-ness about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process. Introverts as well as extroverts find that the online process requires them to utilize their experiences.  This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves.  In addition, the student is given time to reflect on the information before responding.  The online environment should be open and friendly. • Ability to communicate through writing. In the Virtual Classroom (at present), nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that students feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing.  Many students have limited writing abilities, something that should be addressed before or as part of the online experience.  This may require remedial efforts. • Self-motivation and self-discipline. With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility.  The online process takes a real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the process (also see Bernt & Bugbee, 1993). • Willingness to "speak up" if problems arise. Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether students are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online paradigm.  If a student is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), he or she must communicate this immediately.  Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.  Taplin, Yum, Jegede, Fan, & Chan (2001) underline the importance of good help-seeking strategies in their recent study. • Willingness and ability to commit to specific amounts of time per week per course. Online is not easier than the traditional educational process.  In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment (also see Bernt & Bugbee, 1993). • Ability to meet the minimum requirements for the program. The requirements for student effort online are no less than that of any other quality educational program.  The successful student will view online as a convenient way to receive their education – not an easier way. • Acceptance of critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process. The learning process requires the student to make decisions based on facts as well as experience.  Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought; case analysis does this very effectively. • Access to a computer and a modem. The communication medium is a computer, phone line, and modem; the student must have access to the necessary equipment. • Ability to think ideas through before responding. Meaningful and quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process.  Time is given in the process to allow for the careful consideration of responses.  The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged; you will not always be right, just be prepared to accept a challenge. • Understanding that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom. If the student feels that a traditional classroom is a prerequisite to learning, they may be more comfortable in the traditional classroom.  Online is not for everybody. A student that wants to be on a traditional campus attending a traditional classroom is probably not going to be happy online (also see Bernt & Bugbee, 1993).  While the level of social interaction can be very high in the virtual classroom given that many barriers come down in the online format, it is not the same ‘being in class’. These authors go on to suggest that the online learning process is normally accelerated and requires commitment on the student’s part.  They argue that “keeping up with the class and completing all work on time is vital.  Once a student gets behind, it is almost impossible to catch up.  Basically, the student needs to want to be there, and needs to want the experience.” Similarly, Coghlan (2002) offers a list of necessary and basic technical skills for student learners.  They include “familiarity and facility with the Internet environment; the ability to search and navigate the Internet using a browser; to use bookmarks; send and receive email and attachments; and download files”.  This author adds that students should exhibit “…self- motivation, have good independent learning skills and time management skills.” The importance of web browsing skills is reinforced by a second quantitative study (Grace-Martin & Gay, 2001). Eastmond (2000) outlines elements of online courses that also facilitate students success: effective course design, tutorial support, timely technical support, and provision of online resources (such as library materials) as needed.  Finally, Doherty (2001) studied a group of community college students and explored the relationship between student interaction in an online learning environment and student success as measured by student satisfaction and academic performance.  The results substantiate claims by other research, that interaction between instructor and learner is a critical factor in student success.  Student Diversity in Online Learning The US Department of Education contends that “one of the most powerful opportunities afforded education by technology is the opportunity to better meet students’ individual learning needs”  (United States Department of Education, 2000).  But are we thinking broadly enough when we talk about “student diversity”?  Research demonstrates that students’ gender, cultural or ethnic background, language and communication skills, academic ability, physical ability, sociodemographic status and skills with technology all influence success using educational technologies.  Gender Sussman & Tyson (2000) report that a majority of psychological literature indicates gender differences in written and oral communication.  Their study goes beyond the usual differences and attempts to explore a new channel of communication, “cybertalk”.  These authors point out that if technology were truly ‘neutral’ (non-gendered), sex differences in communication style might be eliminated or reduced.  Their findings suggest, however, that “gendered power differentials in communication style transcend the medium”.  These authors analyzed archived electronic discussions for length, frequency of communication, and discourse content (fact vs. opinion), with the expectation that male communicators would display “power behaviours” by writing longer postings, by posting more frequently, and by writing more opinionated comments than female communicators.  To their surprise, they found that although the male entries consisted of a greater number of words, the women communicated more frequently than the men did.  They also observed, however, that men in their study group wrote more opinionated communications, although this trend did not reach statistical significance.  Overall, these authors conclude that cyberspace - a context where the gender of those talking could be considered unremarkable - remains a male-dominated atmosphere, where gender differentiation and power displays in communication persist, similar to other communication modes. Indeed, early investigators of technology and gender warned of girls being left behind and of the proliferation of ‘male focussed software’ (see, for example, Canada & Brusca, 1992), and a number of recent studies and reviews suggest that men and boys still have a higher computer self-efficacy and more positive attitudes towards computers than girls and women (Whitley, 1997; Inkpen, 1997; Nelson & Cooper, 1997).  Others (for example, King, Bond & Blandford, 2002) are beginning to argue that girls now makeup a large part of the online population, having found opportunities to express themselves and promote relationships and communication online. Duncan & Leander (2000) argue that “…as research into online spaces for adolescents continues, those of us committed to critical literacy education must help students make sense of the ways in which particular sites position them among contradictory discourses and relations of power.  We are in need of developing a pedagogy of critical Web site interpretation, a means of evaluation that moves well beyond traditional categories used with informational texts (e.g., source, purpose, authorship, and credibility).  Rather, evaluation must be engaged in understanding Web sites as positioning readers and writers.” In other words, these authors have moved on from simple analysis of gender disparities in ICT access and competence, to highlighting the need to critically examine (and helps students to understand) the ways in which the content of the WorldWide Web perpetuates or disrupts traditional disparities.  Culture/Ethnicity Culture and ethnicity impact face to face communication, and necessarily also impact online communications, posing a range of challenges for instructional designers and online facilitators. Inglis (1998) describes incidents of cross-cultural miscommunication when email and the World Wide Web were used as communicative media.  More recently, Chase, Macfadyen, Reeder, & Roche (2002) have attempted to test assumptions that electronic communication is internationally standardized, and to identify any problematic aspects of such communications. These authors found that cyberspace itself has a culture(s), and is not culture-free.  Cultural gaps can exist between individuals, as well as between individuals and the dominant cyber-culture, increasing chances for miscommunication.  In addition, the lack of elements inherent in face-to- face communication further complicates intercultural communications online by limiting opportunities to give and save face, and to intuit meaning from non-verbal cues.  Such elements become critical when online instructors of facilitators have expectations of or even requirements for particular styles of online interaction, which may be unfamiliar, challenging or even culturally inappropriate for culturally diverse students. With specific relation to online education, Wilson (2001) points out that culturally conditioned worldview, vocabulary and concepts, linguistic characteristics, learner motivations and cognition patterns (including reading behaviour) can cause ‘cultural discontinuities’ in online setting.  He goes on to make design recommendations that may allow culturally diverse students to participate more effectively in online activities, for example by including activities designed to teach new cognitive processes, or by changing the way that text is presented. Works by Facey (2001), Voyageur (2001)  and Haughey (2001) also detail some of the issues that face the First Nations communities in using and accessing online learning and technologies.  Physical Ability Robertson (2002) argues that computers can provide equal access to information for students with sensory, motor or cognitive disabilities, but notes that designers of online information or instructional sites must ensure that their sites are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  This author summarizes Access Guidelines drafted by the Access Board (a governing body charged with helping U.S.  Federal agencies achieve Web accessibility).  In particular, computer assistive technology tools seem to encounter problems with Web pages that use excessive amounts of graphics, frames and animation.  Examples of accessibility strategies that may be relevant for K- 12 instructional design include: • Text Tags: A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g. in the HTML tags "alt" or "longdesc").  This text equivalent should describe the purpose of the graphic, image, or sound and reiterate the text that accompanies the graphic.  Web page designers may also include a textual description near the graphic. • Color: Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color (for example, from context or markup). • Readability (style sheets): Documents shall be organized so that they are readable without requiring the use of an associated style sheet.  Individuals with visual problems sometimes set up their own style sheets to increase the contrast of certain Web pages.  However, if an overriding style sheet is embedded, then individuals cannot set up their own style options. If the Web page uses external style sheets (where the style rules are located in another file), then the page should pose no accessibility problems. • Data Tables: Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.  Markup should be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column header. • Frames: Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. • Text-Only Alternative: A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a Web site comply with the provisions of these guidelines when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way.  The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. • Navigation Links: A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.  Screen readers recognize all of the text on the page and will read all repetitive links.  Just as text-only pages are developed as alternatives, pages with no redundant links should also be constructed. Robertson also discusses currently available computer assistive technologies for students with various physical disabilities.  More comprehensive is the report of a significant research study carried out in Montréal (Fichten at al., 2000) which examined the computer, information and adaptive computer technology concerns of postsecondary students with disabilities.  In addition to discussion of adaptations and technologies desirable for specific disabilities, this paper makes a number of specific recommendations to instructional staff and faculty.  Socio-demographic Status In Canada, and elsewhere in the West, investigators are increasingly aware of the existence of a “digital divide”: a gap between those who have access to the Internet, and those who do not (Birdsall, 2000).  The 2001 Canadian census indicates that 48.7% of Canadian households have Internet access and at least one regular Internet user (while a total of 60.2% of households have access through at least one location such as home, school or library).  In spite of the rapid increase in household Internet access across the socio-demographic spectrum, there exists, a significant gap between home Internet access of households in the lowest income quartile, and households in the highest income quartile (Table 1) (Statistics Canada, 2002). Household Income 2001 % of households with Internet access Lowest quartile ($23,000 or less) 22.6 Second quartile ($23,001 to $39,999)  40.0 Third quartile ($40,000 to $69,999)  56.4 Highest quartile ($70,000 and more) 75.8 Table 1: Home Internet access by household income  A recent US study also found, as might be expected, that access also varies between ethnic and racial groups in the U.S., with Black and Hispanic households significantly disadvantaged (Pea, 2000). Educational level is a third demographic factor that further influences household Internet use. Pea (2000) reported that in the year 2000, 80% of US households with a college degree or higher and $75K (US) annual income have Internet access, compared to only 5% of households with less than high school education and an annual income of under $15,000 (US).  Similarly, McLean & Morrison (2000) report that in their study of sociodemographic participation in computer conferencing in a Canadian online professional development program, holding a university degree and living in an urban area were the strongest predictors of participation. 70% of parents with incomes of $60,000 (US) or more report that one or more of their children uses the Internet, compared to 35% of parents with incomes under $40,000 (US).  While school Internet access is increasingly rapidly across North America, “school-type effects” still disadvantage students in lower-income communities.  Pea (2000) cites a 2000 study that showed that schools in low-income communities averaged 16 students per instructional computer, while schools in high-income areas averaged 7 students per computer. Taken together with the findings of numerous recent studies that demonstrate that children who are exposed to computers have a more positive attitude towards computers than those who are not (Clarke, 1997; Dawes, Horan, & Hackett, 2000; Hennessy, 2000; Kirkman, 1993; Levine & Donitsa-Schmidt, 1998; Miyashita, 1994; Pedretti, Mayer-Smith, & Woodrow, 1998; Soyibo & Hudson, 2000; Woodrow, 1994), it is clear that socio-demographic factors will affect student comfort and success with ICT-mediated educational activities.  Schools and school districts must take into account the socio-demographic distribution of their student population when considering implementation of online or distance learning options.  Student Computer Experience/Skills Hargittai (2002) points out that there exists a “second level” within the digital divide: differences in online skills.  She reports that in her study, prior experience with technology correlated positively with level of Internet skill, while age correlated negatively.  Bradley & Russell (1997) further determined that “computer anxiety” is often due to low mechanical aptitude, a dislike of technology, and a distrust of change.  Significantly, computer anxiety has been shown negatively impact student’s achievement with computer-based or Internet-based learning activities, and tends to be associated with low rates of classroom computer usage and support (Bradley & Russell, 1997, and references therein). Moreover, researchers have concluded that the critical determinant of attitudes to computers is the quality, rather than sheer quantity, of prior experience with technology.  A number of studies have determined that to minimize student anxieties, ‘quality’ instructional activities should: • Allow students to be relaxed • Allow positive experiences • Incorporate the playing of games • Incorporate extensive hands-on work • Allow students time to experiment • Incorporate collaborative activities  Teacher support, support by the school for online learning, and technical support for teachers and students is reported to reduce computer anxiety and maximize achievement in online instruction (Bradley & Russell, 1997).  Literacy and Language Skills In online environments, literacy is critical, and is used in a range of ways: to create identity, to interact with others, to sustain and build online learning community, to create momentum, to exchange information, and to devise and solve challenges.  Dudfield (1999) argues that today’s children can and must engage in hybrid forms of literacy behaviour, mixing traditional and new forms of literacy to communicate with others online.  Some educators fear, and researchers are observing, that Internet and computer technology requires people to learn additional skills to become literate, creating another gap between the techno-literate and the techno-illiterate. Barnes (1996) argues that functional computer literacy requires a basic comprehension of grammar and language, keyboarding skills, familiarity with a platform, as well as the ability to use word processing and spreadsheet software.  In the area of English language skills, a particular challenge for schools is to facilitate Internet access and computer literacy for students with limited English proficiency (Mora, 2000).  Recent studies (Matthews, 2000, and references therein) are reporting, however, that computer-based instruction is actually improving literacy acquisition for ESL students by: • Transforming texts, providing scaffolds that aid comprehension (vocabulary help, auxiliary information, graphics, video and sound clips, explanation of culturally specific references. • Simplifying production of text, freeing the students to think about ideas and how to communicate them • Changing the relationship between students and text (for example, shy students may choose to communicate by email, although they may not speak in class) • Motivating students to use correct English and grammar through letter and email composition • Allowing a shift to learner-driven pedagogy  At Risk Learners A recent report compiled by the US-based National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (2000) offers a comprehensive bibliography of research and case studies relating to “Technology’s Particular Promise” for at-risk students.  Johnson (2001) argues that Internet and computer technologies can support literacy acquisition and learning of at-risk students in ways similar to ESL students, by offering enriched, interactive and motivating texts, and offers an extensive collection of online resources for teachers in this area.  In addition, Means (1997) argues that Internet technologies help teachers maximize learning for at risk students.  Rather than channelling such students into basic skills classes, Internet technologies provide opportunities to expand the learning environment for such students, allowing them to participate in challenging authentic learning.  In support of these arguments, Chambers, Abrami, McWhaw, & Therrien (2000) report on a successful online “just in time” tutoring project to help students who experience problems learning to read.  Technology and Learning Styles Educational researchers have developed a number of frameworks for discussing learning styles, and literature regarding technology’s utility for individuals of various “learning types” has begun to emerge.  “Multiple Intelligences” According to multiple intelligences theory, not only do all individuals possess numerous mental representations and intellectual languages, but individuals also differ from one another in the forms of these representations, their relative strengths, and the ways with which (and ease with which) these representations can be changed (Veenema & Gardner, 1996).  Some researchers and educators have begun to investigate and report on the ways that educational technologies can teach to the different intelligences of students.  For example, in one study, 200 third and fourth grade students were given a survey asking whether or not they believed that technology helped them become better learners by tapping many of their strength intelligences, as defined by Gardner.  The students, in the study, reflected upon the following areas: • Visual/Spatial Intelligence (Art Smart)- I learn more easily through images, mind maps, video clips on the Internet, creating pictures, or by printing out graphics for topics I am studying.  68% • Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Math Smart) - It helps me collect and analyze information so that I can create charts and graphs.  45.5% • Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence (Music Smart) - I am able to listen to a number of sounds pertaining to many of the things we have studied in class.  51.5% • Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart) - It has helped me with my mouse and keyboarding skills.  65.5% • Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart) - I am able to study about our universe and plants & animals from all over the world by using computer software, supporting hardware (video microscopes), and the Internet.  56.5% • Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart) - I am able to work alone and at my own pace more easily while using computer programs in class or when researching on the Internet. Computers help me better understand why I need to learn particular skills and concepts to function in my everyday life.  66.5% • Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)- Sharing what I have learned with other students around the world (via a web page or C-U See Me software & cameras) makes learning much more meaningful.  It is easier to learn about life in other countries when using a computer for gathering information.  53.7% Carlson-Pickering (1999) concludes from these and other findings that no single technology is suited for all students and all curricula, but that the diversity of available technologies and approaches allows teachers to support a diverse student population and their unique learning styles.  “Reactive Behaviour Patterns” Dziuban, Moskal, & Dziuban, (2000) describe an investigation into learner success with online learning using a learning styles framework based upon student reaction to the learning environment.  These authors type students according to whether they are ‘aggressive’ or ‘passive’ learners, and whether they are ‘dependent’ or ‘independent’ (not dependent) on the approval of teachers and peers.  They found that when students self-select for online program enrollment, the majority of online students are ‘aggressive dependent’ learners.  These are high energy level students who depend on instructor and peer feedback.  Dziuban et al.  note that these students fit the ‘superior academic profile’ best, and normally excel in almost any environment. Conversely, passive learners who require external motivation for educational success are under-represented in the study, suggesting that online course under study was not constructed in a way to best promote learning in such students.  Other Learning Styles Frameworks Terrell & Dringus (2000) used Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory to assess Masters level students in an online program, and concluded that regardless of learning style, the majority of students can succeed in an online learning environment.  However, these authors noted that students with learning styles different from predicted tended to drop out in higher numbers. Liu & Ginther (1999) reviewed the Kolb inventory and other cognitive style inventories with relation to online learning.  Significantly, these authors go on to make extensive recommendations for instructional design, in order to adapt online learning to the characteristics of various learning styles.  Online Learning and Cognitive Development Learning, according to the cognitive science perspective, should not be viewed as a process of simply transmitting information from a teacher to a learner or from an expert to a novice. Rather, learning should be viewed as an active, constructive process, involving collaboration and reflection among people who learn through the course of their everyday activity (Penuel & Roschelle, 1999). New technologies can support learning activities designed according to these cognitive science principles.  The capabilities of technology to support communication and collaboration, the presentation of interactive animated and graphical conceptual tools, and simulation of problem solving match what we know about how people learn, both in and beyond classrooms. Penuel & Roschelle (1999) conclude, “…technologies, if they are designed well and are well understood by developers and users, have the potential to revolutionize…learning and innovation.”  They remark on a series of key principles, which are summarized below: • Learning takes place within communities of practice. • Novices learn to become experts through practice in solving a variety of problems in a domain. • Becoming an expert means applying learning to new contexts. • Prior knowledge mediates learning. • Learning is enhanced when thinking is made visible by collaboration and reflection among learners. Scardamalia & Bereiter (1991) suggest that although adults and children both have zones of proximal development in which more knowledgeable others play essential roles, there is a difference in executive control that is most salient in question-answer dialogue.  Adult learners typically ask questions based on their perceived knowledge needs, whereas with school children, questions are typically asked by the teacher, based on the teacher's perception of the child's needs.  Evidence shows, however, that children can produce and recognize educationally productive questions and can adapt them to their own knowledge needs.  The challenge is to design environments in which students can use such questions to guide their building of knowledge, thus assuming a higher level of agency in learning.  Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE), a computer-supported knowledge medium designed to support intentional learning, is described in their work, with illustrations of children's use of it in cooperative knowledge building (Scardamalia, & Bereiter, 1991). Ungerleider & Burns (2002) offer a comprehensive review and critique of recent studies on the effectiveness of ICTs in promoting metacognitive skills (“knowledge about the self, the task, and strategies for learning”) in K-12 students.  Conclusions Carlson-Pickering (1999) argues: “Technology is a valuable tool.  It has the power to support students and teachers in gathering, organizing, manipulating and presenting information.  When both are encouraged to use their innate intelligences creatively, computers may extend and enhance what the individuals are able to produce, whether the task is to write a report, graph data, create a drawing/design, etc.  It levels the playing field for those who may be otherwise limited due to disabilities.”  We might add that current data suggest that new technologies may offer new teaching and learning opportunities for at-risk students, students working in a second language, and other disadvantaged groups. What we must not lose sight of is the reality that techno-literacy is not innate, even in technologically savvy young learners of the 21st century.  The technological skills and confidence that are vital for success in technology-mediated learning environments must be actively fostered, and the barriers to technological competence experienced by different students must be anticipated.  In addition, we must hope that as ICTs continue to rapidly develop, the current Anglo-western dominance of the internet and of technology will be mitigated, as new innovations allows cultural and linguistic communities around the world to create their own cyberspaces and cyberculture, and participate in the world of online learning as equals rather than as disadvantaged poor cousins.   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