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In this short paper, I will start my discussion on scaffolding, by Dr Allus' notion of feedback and scaffolding by teachers (human agents) in the classroom, and continue by providing definitions of scaffolding. Then considering the shortcomings of scaffolding in regular classrooms, I will tackle on the goals and benefits of shifting away from traditional scaffolding to pedagogical agent-based scaffolding. Then, I will bring an example of human-computer interactive environments used for self-regulation enhancement, in which artificial agents take places of teacher, and finally drawing to the notions of "Human-computer interaction designs, and simulation integration for education" proposed by Adrian Olmos in one of our class sessions will consider her two Human-computer interaction design projects with a critical view.
Scaffolding in Regular Classrooms
Teaching and learning have been ever-existent phenomena in human life. From the very beginning, there were educators whose concerns were to enhance learning by focusing on the nature of knowledge and learning. Scwhab asserted that "No matter what the underlying paradigm is, there is a common thread which connects all educational psychology research, namely that (1) someone (2) teaches something (3) to someone else (4) somewhere" (Scwhab, 1973, as cited by Berliner, 2006). I challenge this simplistic view of teaching/learning processes, which focuses on instruction as the final goal, while we know that instructions do not always lead to learning. There are some factors involved in a successful instruction. The question is what are some of the necessities in teaching to be considered to ensure helping students excel their potential of learning? In a classroom discourse, student conceptual change and problem solving may happen by being helped to theorize about a phenomenon or issue, either by engaging alone in sets of
activities or cooperating in critical conversation prior to engaging in one or a set of activities. Helping students take active responsibility for their own learning begins by planning deliberately for ways they can be active learners inside and outside the classroom to increase elaborative encoding of concepts, relationships between concepts and the acquisition of relevant social, and discourse strategies (Allus, Personal Communication, September 21, 2010). One of the contributions that teachers may have to enhance learning is to help learners enhance their potential of learning. From students' perspective, accomplishing student-centered activities require a different set of skills than those needed to succeed in more typical classroom activities (McCombs and Whisler, 1997). This issue has led to the proposal that additional aids, or scaffolds, are needed to assist students engaged in the development of their higher-order skills (Glasgow, 1997). The term scaffolding was initially introduced by Vygotsky (1978) as tutoring or other assistance provided by a teacher or peer on an as-needed basis in a learning setting to assist students with attaining levels of understanding impossible for them to achieve without assistance. Scaffolds are tools, strategies, and guides, which are used by human and artificial tutors, teachers, and animated pedagogical agents during learning to support students' understanding (Koedinger, 2001); and as a temporary framework will be removed when it is no longer needed to ensure that learners can independently demonstrate their competence and articulate their knowledge without assistance (Lajoie, 2005). In a traditional classroom, the teacher needs to monitor and assess all the students' understanding, and provide them with effective feedback. This practice sometimes fail due to several reasons like differences in student's prior knowledge, level of interests in the subject, cultural backgrounds, differences in their goal orientations, personality traits, etc. Taken
together, academic achievements do not seem to be easily improved by mere scaffolding, because there are no one on one tutoring, especially for low-performing students. Considering the shortcomings of scaffolding in the traditional classrooms, technology enhanced scaffolding mechanisms are, in my opinion, better alternatives to enhance learning.
Scaffolding in Hypermedia Environments
I believe the more industrialized and technologically advanced our societies become, the higher the need for enhancing the levels of learning through computerized tools gets. Nowadays, the interests that younger generations show in working with and learning from computers cannot be ignored. Sca_olding students' learning through computer-based learning environments (CBLEs) has become a critical issue that has recently received a tremendous amount of attention by researchers from several communities. CBLEs such as intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to e_ectively sca_old student's learning of wellstructured tasks such as algebra, based on their ability to dynamically and systematically monitor, adapt, and sca_old a learner's individual learning (Derry and Lajoie, 1993). For several reasons, human agent scaffolding in regular classrooms is not the optimum form of scaffolding compared to the one to one scaffolding provided in hypermedia environments. In the classroom, it is most likely that students are aware of the approximate achievement levels of their classmates and how well others perform compared to them regarding getting feedback from the teacher or peers. This may be a motivation for the students with higher-level skills, but a source of failure to the students with lower achievements. It may lower their self-efficacy. In a hypermedia environment, when the student using her computer is the only person interacting with pedagogical agents, there will be no threats to her self-efficacy. She will commit mistakes, and go through the process of learning repeatedly without the fear of
being compared with other students with higher levels of skills. With good scaffolding in the hypermedia environment, she can experience achievements, which will increase her level of selfefficacy. From another perspective, it is important to note that no kind of external feedback will have any effects on learners' behavior and performance unless they process and interpret the information provided (Zimmerman, 2010). In a regular classroom, students have different previously set standards; however, since the lesson is the same for everyone, and the time of class does not let the teacher check comprehension, that is to check if the standards of all the individual students have been met, there is this threat that some of the students cannot process and interpret the information provided. So they will not benefit from the presentation or the external feedback provided by the teacher.
Computer-Based Learning Environment: projects and suggestions
Educational researchers have successfully used student-centered methods to enhance students' understanding of science with computer-based learning environments (CBLEs) (e.g., Azevedo, Verona, and Cromley, 2001; Lajoie and Azevedo, 2000). These studies, however, also provide evidence that students have difficulties regulating certain aspects of their learning, when they use CBLEs to learn about complex and challenging science topics, which necessitates the presence of external human agents (i.e., teachers) or artificial agents scaffolding which foster students' understanding. An example of scaffolding in hypermedia is Dr. Azevedo's MetaTutor project, which will be presented in our class on November, 16, 2010. MetaTutor, is a project of technology use for educational purposes in which artificial agents provide a learner with adaptive scaffolds on selfregulated learning (SRL) processes during learning about a human body system. In their
study they used different devices of data collection like eyetracker, facial reader, verbal protocols, log files, etc. to check the effectiveness of di_erent sca_olding methods and check their effects on leading students to deploy key SRL processes and mechanisms associated with their di_erences in conceptual understanding (Azevedo, Cromley, and Seibert, 2004). Olmos (Personal Communication, October 12, 2010) presented their Health Services Virtual Organization project (HSVO) that enables mentoring and monitoring of dissections and surgical procedures for medical instructors and students._While the great thing about this project is that, the interface both enables the instructor to provide the best viewing point to observe, and simultaneously o_er the remote viewer the freedom to change viewpoints. However, it will not go any further in terms of interactions. Focusing only on instruction, it has ignored the important feature of providing learners with feedback on the accuracy of their observations. I suggest that this interface have the potential to get better, if this feature be added. So there may be human instructors, or even artificial agents prompting learners to check the accuracy of their perception of the procedure while observation or the instructor can check their performance and provide them with distant real time feedback. Their other project Open Orchestra, which is for the orchestral training of professional and semi-professional musicians is the musical equivalent of an aircraft simulator that gives the musician or vocalist the very realistic experience of playing or singing with an orchestra. Musicians can record their performance and send this with their question(s) to a conductor or instructor. This allows the conductor to zoom into the performance, listening either just to the instrument on its own, or in the context of the full orchestra (Olmos, Personal Communication, October 12, 2010). In an actual orchestral rehearsal, because of time constraints, this feedback getting cannot be done easily. The musicians have this opportunity to get feedback and more
focused instruction from their conductors. I think this project is a great opportunity for the musicians and vocalists, as usually their training require expensive resources that are not always available. However I believe this project could get even better, if the agent who provides the feedback be a artificial agent, not the conductor. I suggest providing an adaptive scaffolding component to this interface which scaffolds learners through learning and practicing the new pieces of music. There should be some artificial agents. Each agent should be responsible for a specific aspect of the learning environment. One may introduce the learning environment to the learner. Another one provides musicians with sample successful performance of the piece. Still another one may prompt and assist them with the deployment of a successful or a progressing performance, that is, the agent may monitor the learners performance and compare it with an ideal performance of the same piece, and scaffold them in gaining the required skill to progress to a higher level of performance using different strategies. Artificial agents reduce or even remove the need for a human conductor, who may not be available or sometimes not that exact in recognizing the false performance of a note, as computers can be. This will help the learners to self-monitor, and self-regulate their performance, and also learn and practice as much as they want and with their own pace. In summary, Dr. Allus presentation on helping and supporting students as well as the papers and the introduction of the two projects by Ms. Olmos, Which gave me a wider view of using computer-human interactive environments for learning purposes had the most impact on my view for future research, as I will most probably be aimed at working on teachers' vs. artificial agents' supporting, scaffolding and providing feedback to the Second Language Learners for my future research. I should also thank you for the great selections of the presenters, as I found our class really helpful, motivating, and informative.