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Scott Allen

Read the article
Fischer, G. (1998) "Making Learning a Part of Life-Beyond the 'Gift-Wrapping' Approach of Technology." Notes from 6/96 NSF Symposium on Learning and Intelligent Systems available at:

Briefly discuss the following issues:
1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found several things interesting:
  • The concept of learning as an integral part of working in today's industry. I work as a knowledge worker (system administrator), but don't always get paid to learn new technologies when the knowledge is required for the job. On the other hand, I often do get paid to learn new things. The question becomes, is it acceptable to to make learning a burden of the worker, as part of increasing their personal skillset, or is it an integral part of doing a job, and something that is a part of the overall cost of a particular task?
  • The idea that IT fails because it is simple "technologizing" old ways of doing things. There definitely is a trend of making technology fit existing business processes, rather than using technology as a catalyst to fundamentally change business processes.
  • "much knowledge is tacit and only surfaces in specific problem situations" - this implies that a lot of things that domain experts know, they don't know they know until they see it in the context of a problem. The implication is that a lot of our knowledge are things that are implicit, and are only retrieved in particular contexts.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

The main message seems to be that learning is an integral part of problem solving, work, and life, and that technology needs to built to support that, rather than continue to force people into old ways of doing things.

3. click on one of the words in blue and see what happens?

It takes me to the entry in a glossary for that term

3.1. is this feature useful?

Yes, somewhat

3.2. in which other situations have you encountered this feature?

I've seen it on other web pages. It's a particularly wiki-like feature, present on things such as, and

4. global learning theories and approaches

4.1. do you know any of the people mentioned in the diagrams:

4.1.1. Skinner

4.1.2. Piaget
- I've vaguely heard of him, in the context of education, particularly lower level education.

4.1.3. Papert

4.1.4. Illich

4.1.5. Vygotsky

4.1.6. Dewey - As in the Dewey Decimal system?

4.1.7. ignore Taylor

4.2. select one of the six

4.2.1. in case you know something ‡ write a paragraph what she/he has contributed to a deeper understanding of learning?

4.2.2. in case you do not know something, find out something about her/him ‡ write a paragraph what she/he has contributed to a deeper understanding of learning?

Jean Piaget is a Swiss psychologist, who is most well known for his theories of cognitive development. He seperated development into a series of stages, corresponding to infancy, childhood, and adolesence. He explained an individuals advance through these various levels using three things: biology, culture, and something he called equilibration, which worked in concert with the first two factors. His work served as a basis for Papert's work developing the Logo programming language, and indirectly lead to some of the first work at exploring the concept of a GUI, at Xerox PARC. (info from

5. identify one website (and mention the URL) which you consider interesting and relevant for “learning”! Write a one paragraph justification!

I particularly like It's an open source encylcopedia, written entirely by volunteers. Since it's a wiki, anyone can contribute. This means that each article is a living document, with anyone able to make changes as they see fit. This means that the information is in theory up to date, relevant, and provides a broad view of the subject matter. Moreover, wikipedia is totally searchable. In some respects, it's not groundbreaking learning technology. But it allows individuals instant access to relevant, accurate information, anywhere they are connected to the web, and allows them to assimilate knowledge acquired elsewhere into the resource. While this won't guaruntee learning, it willd definitely help enable it. It also serves to break down the boundary of "ivory tower experts". All of a sudden, anyone is an expert, and can contribute.

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