simulated environments and the understanding of context reflections on educational use of computer...
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Simulated Environments and the Understanding of ContextReflections on Educational Use of Computer Mediated Simulated Environments Jon Magne VestlDepartment of Teacher EducationUniversity of Oslo
Purpose of the presentationExamine the understanding of computer based simulated environments as educational means
Reflections represent by-products of a newly completed thesis in the field of moral education. I will refer to some computer mediated student tasks from the research project
The main questionWhat happens to our (sociocultural) understanding of context and situated action when students are dealing (individually or collectively) with simulated tasks and interacting with simulated persons online?The question has relevance both to educational practice and educational research
What I intend to doI will compare a text based and a computer based simulation to examine the nature of computer simulation as an educational mean I will shortly examine the contextual aspects that are activated when students work with computer mediated simulated casesI will shortly examine possible expansions of context when students work within computer simulated environments
1a. Text based simulationA student task from a Norwegian text-book of moral education: Ida is eighteen years old. She has recently started her third year of secondary education and is pregnant. Knut, the father of the child, wants her to have an abortion, to make her able to fulfill her education. What would you advice Ida to do, and what kind of arguments would you use?
1b. Computer based simulationEastern European woman with a severely ill childSeriously considers working for the mafia to finance necessary but expensive medical treatment for the childStudents are asked to give her their adviceCase 3: Woman asking for advice.
1c. Comparison: text - computerSimilaritiesRational nature of the tasksStudents role as advisors Establishment of imaginary context (virtual, simulated).Computer add-onsDirect communication (student to person).Role of technical and mediational interface (chat news agency) cfr Bolter & Grusin: Remediation
The remediated nature of the simulated and virtual
2. Simulated environments and the sociocultural concept of contextRoger Slj on the concept of contextPhysicalHistoricalMentalCommunicative(Slj: Lrande i praktiken pp 135-136)Individual simulated tasks as exaggerations of mental and communicative context (physical diminished)Group based simulated tasks as (integrated or just added?) activations of mental/comm. and physical contexts?
3a. Expansions of contextRoger Slj: The problem of tool transfer between decontextualizing and contextualizing fields of practice (school versus work/daily life)(Slj: Lrande i praktiken, p 154)
3b. Expanded simulated context?Bypassing woman addressing victim in a contemptuous wayStudents writing directly to the woman, using emotionally colored verbal toolsCase 2: Woman bypassing victim
3c. Students use of verbal toolsEmotional toolsYOU ASSHOLE! Damned idiot!Youre disgusting!Selfish woman!Shame on you!Pull yourself together!You make me sick!What an awful being you are!!!!!!!Norm toolsThe Golden RuleThe act of reciprocityHuman worthThe duty to helpCharity
Combined use of emotional tools and norm tools
3d. Expanded contextual field?Students are expanding the limits of accepted tool activation within schoolStudents seem to activate verbal tools that are consumed, mastered and appropriated in fields of practice outside schoolDoes this indicate that computer mediated case based tasks can serve as means for expanding mental and communicative contextual limitations of schooling?
ConclusionsComputer mediated case tasks partially remediate traditional text based simulationsComputer mediated case tasks exaggerate the mental and communicative contextual dimensionsComputer mediated case tasks may possibly be able to expand contextual dimensions crossing borders between academic and non academic fields of practice
Possible implications for teacher education (TE)Concerning the transfer of tools. Should the transfer of tools be addressed more frequently and specifically in TE to stimulate the search for educational means that may expand contexts and strengthen the relationship between schooling and real life? Concerning use of computer based cases in TE. Should such cases try to exaggerate non-rational aspects of communication e. g. between student teacher and simulated student to trigger contextual expansions and activate zones of transfer?