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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 47

by Dr. D.H. Jonassen, University of Colorado, Denver/CO (U.S.A.)

This book (NATO ASI SERIES F81) is about learning tools _ computer_based tools that have been adapted and/or developed to support learning and metalearning outcomes. Computers are being used increasingly to support learning at all levels and venues. Rather than using computers to deliver information to the learner, this book argues that computers ought to be used as cognitive tools to support thinking in the learner. Computer_based cognitive tools are different from other task_specific tools like word processors. These are tools that are intended to facilitate cognitive processing _ hence cognitive tools. Cognitive tools are both mental and computational devices that support, guide, and extend the thinking processes of their users. The tools described in this book are external, computer_ based devices and environments that extend the thinking processes of learners. These are tools that are used to engage learners in meaningful cognitive processing of information. They are knowledge construction and facilitation tools that can be applied to a variety of subject matter domains.

Some of the cognitive tools described in this book are adaptations of knowledge_based software, such as expert systems, hypertext, and databases. When these tools are used as formalisms for representing knowledge, they become cognitive tools. Other cognitive tools include specially designed knowledge construction tools, such as semantic networking tools, collaborative communication programs, and microworlds for mediating learning.

This book was the result of the Advanced Research Workshop, `Cognitive Tools for Learning', which was held at the University of Twente in the Netherlands in July, 1990. The workshop was about computer_based tools that facilitate generative processing of information by learners. Cognitive tools represent learning with information processing technologies as opposed to learning of them. Learning with technologies amplifies the learner's cognitive processes while using those technologies. Computer_based cognitive tools are in effect cognitive amplification tools, that distribute cognition to the person plus their `surround' _ the physical and social resources available to them. Cognitive tools are intelligent resources with which the learner cognitively collaborates in constructing knowledge.
Reference books: F67, F76, F78, F80, F81, F84, F85, F86, F87, F89, F90, F91, F92, F93, F96, F97, F104, F105

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