Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hypertext Minds, Parallel Cognitive Structures, Or Just Making Connections?

Will Richardson reflected on William D. Winn's ideas on the changing nature of student's cognitive structures. Winn called it "hypertext minds"(pg.7 Winn, Richardson). Non-linear thinking, jumping around between ideas. Although this idea has major implications on how we organize and present data to today's students, is it truly an earth-shattering idea? Please correct me if I am misunderstanding the idea of hypertext, but isn't that a new way of saying that we learn by making connections? Making connections is not a new concept for education. Technology is just enabling us to act on our connections as readers (clicking on a link) or to share our connections with others (posting links for our readers).

One of the most common traits of good readers is their ability to interact with the text as they are reading. In today's classrooms, I think teachers are making great leaps helping students make those connections. Although many students are responding well to the increased emphasis on making connections, many are also failing to make meaningful connections. Can we help those struggling students by presenting them connections at their finger tips?

Do I agree with Richardson when he states, "All of this paints the picture of an educational system that is out of touch with the way students learn" (pg.7 Richardson)? Maybe not. Have we found a way to reach MORE learners in a variety of ways? For sure!

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