ABSTRACT

The impetus for editing Computers as Cognitive Tools was spurred by questions currently being addressed by researchers in the fields of AI and cognitive science as to “what is good pedagogy and what types of computer systems will enhance learning?” These questions point to answers that may be realized in practice, for the use of advanced computer technology in the classroom is no longer just a researcher’s fantasy. Even though state-of-the-art technology always precedes availability in a typical classroom or training environment, we see progress in that researchers are bridging the gap between theory and practice by testing computer systems outside of the laboratory. However, along with this progression has been a theoretical shift that is sometimes misconstrued as the continental divide of AI and education. Presiding on the mountain range that has resulted from this shift is an imaginary camp where researchers take a middleroad theoretical stand on pedagogical principles that guide the design of computer learning environments. Two imaginary camps on opposite sides of this mountain range are often theoretically opposed in terms of their philosophies regarding how computers can be used to facilitate instruction. One camp attracts model builders; the other shelters many non-modelers. Model builders represent what might be regarded as the traditional intelligent tutoring system (ITS) paradigm (if such a young science can have a tradition), which is based on assumptions that students’ thinking processes can be modeled, traced, and corrected in the context of problem solving, using computers. Researchers camping with non-modelers are in opposition, either because they do not believe it is feasible to construct adequate cognitive models, or because better or more cost-effective alternatives exist. One alternative is that students can be stimulated to monitor and diagnose their own learning and problem-solving performance through the use of welldesigned cognitive tools.