Learning from Traditional Text Versus Hypertext: Advantages & Disadvantages

Shapiro, A., & Niederhauser, D. (2004). Learning from hypertext: Research issues and findings. Handbook  of Research for Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 605-620). New York: Macmillan.

This article compares and contrasts hypertext online media to traditional text. Traditional text has a more linear structure that is more sequential in the logical development of ideas presented by the author. However, hypertext has a variety of formats that web designers use that may not follow the linear structure of traditional texts and incorporates various perspectives and media. Traditional texts provide learners with natural eye movement as they read pages. However, hypertext may require scrolling, and have unusual graphics or color schemes that do not mimic natural eye movement and requires more effort from learners, which can lead to disorientation. Hypertext generally has a hierarchical structure that follows the logic of the author of the information. Since users have autonomy in the order in which they navigate through hypertext, they may not access information in a sequence that will maximize their attainment of knowledge presented through hypertext. This may not impact advanced learners with strong background knowledge who may want to expand their knowledge of a concept. However, this format may be a disadvantage for novice learners that are not as familiar with a topic. Novice learners may access links out of order and have little background knowledge to activate to learn concepts. The design of hypertext must consider various domains of knowledge and the best formatting that correlates to a particular domain. Learners can benefit from particular positioning, sequencing, and formatting of hypertext for certain domains of knowledge. Therefore, designers should provide learners with the best instructional strategies and formatting that are specific to the domain of knowledge. Hypertext is categorized as well defined or ill structured. Well defined hypertext is a hierarchy of information, which leads to an understanding of basic facts. Ill structured hypertext is conducive to advanced learners since it has a more challenging format. Neiderhauser and Shapiro encourage more research to be done to continue to improve and advance the implementation of hypertext in education.

This article provides information that can be helpful for educators when they incorporate hypertext into learning. The advantages and disadvantages of hypertext will assist educators in scaffolding hypertext instruction to meet the needs of novice and advanced learners. Educators can ensure that prior knowledge is activated and goal setting is encouraged when instructing learners through hypertext. This article provides a foundation of hypertext media research that can be further explored by other educational technologists to maximize hypertext instruction.

I have incorporated hypertext media into instruction as an educator. I believe that activating prior knowledge, relating hypertext to real world scenarios and assisting in goal setting of learners can be beneficial in allowing learners to have more acquisition of knowledge. Scaffolding is definitely important when instructing novice learners on how to navigate through hypertext and building their skills to become more proficient with independent research of hypertext media.

Related Article:

Brusilovsky, P., Chignell, M., Szigeti, S., & Toms, E. (2010). Evaluating hypertext: The qualitative -quantitative quandary. Proceedings of the 21st ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. (pp. 211 – 212) New York, NY.

Validity and Relevance in Educational Technology Research

Lowther, D. L., Morrison, G. R., & Ross, S. M. (2010). Educational technology research past and present: Balancing rigor and relevance to impact school learning. Contemporary Educational Technology.

This article explores different aspects of educational technology research and the effectiveness of educational technology regarding improving student achievement. Ross, Morrison and Lowther emphasize the need for more educational research to be conducted, since current educational technology research comprises a very limited and inadequate amount of research in academia. Another dilemma of educational technology research is that overall, it does not have the high quality standards required to develop instructional solutions and to provide reliable data for the field educational technology. Ross and Morrison make the following suggestion to enhance the quality of educational research. “We believe, as argued above, that a useful starting point is evaluating potential design options to ensure an adequate balance between internal validity–the degree to which one can draw valid conclusions about the causal effects of one variable on another, and external validity–the degree to which results can be generalized to conditions of interest.” (p. 24). Therefore, researchers should be cognizant of these factors when designing research approaches and exploring data collection options, which will enhance the general usefulness and quality of research. Lowther, Morrison and Ross provide an overview of a multitude of research designs to assist with internal and external validity. In addition, they explore how to effectively integrate technology into instruction. According to Lowther, Ross and Morrison, “…technology applications– as a tutor, as a teaching aide, and as a learning tool–all show considerable promise for this purpose.” (p. 22). They urge researchers to design experiments that will prove whether or not various educational technologies and domains are effective in regards to instructional approaches, critical thinking, problem solving and enhanced academic achievement. This article also recommends that educational technology research become more cohesive by building upon and adding more knowledge to prior research to see more significant gains in the field educational technology research.

Lowther, Ross and Morrison provide a wealth of information regarding the obstacles that researchers face regarding educational technology research. However, they also provide a variety of recommendations and solutions that will help to enhance and fill the knowledge gap of educational technology research. The various research design methodologies that are included in this article provide a framework for researchers to conduct a thorough analysis of the best research approach for their topic. Indicating a need for research to be conducting on a continuum, build upon, and enhance prior educational technology research will help to further advance the field of educational technology. This article discusses critical issues that need to be addressed and implemented regarding educational technology research.

As an educator for elementary students and adult learners, technology integration has been incorporated into my instructional delivery throughout my career. I agree with this article that instructional practices embedded in educational technology that facilitate critical thinking, problem solving and increased learner achievement are pertinent factors to consider when selecting technology for instruction. As an instructional designer, it is necessary for me to have valid research that can help me to make the best educational technology decisions based on accurate empirical studies. Therefore, this article is definitely instrumental in guiding my instruction and provides me with substantial considerations when conducting educational technology research as a doctoral student.

Related article regarding analytics and qualitative validity in research design:

Ifenthaler, D. & Tracey, M.W. (2016) Exploring the relationship of ethics and  privacy in learning analytics and design: implications for the field of educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development.


Robert Kozma’s Views on Technology Influencing Education & Current EdTech

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning?: Reframing the debate. Educational Research and Development.

Kozma’s 1994 article is a response to Richard Clark’s article, Media Will Never Influence Learning of 1983. Kozma’s article was written approximately ten years later and explores his opposing views regarding Clark’s arguments. Kozma is a proponent of technology influencing learning and provides research and substantial arguments that prove that technology can and will assist in advancing education in the future. As a result, Kozma urges educators and educational technologists to get more involved in the surge of technological advancements to ensure that it benefits the field of education and not just entertainment or commercial entities. Kozma also emphasizes the importance of educational technology exhibiting a collaboration of effective technological media design with best instructional design methods to maximize learning. Kozma recognizes the pertinence of instructional design incorporating opportunities for cognition, social learning and active learning. These components lay the foundation for impactful learning in traditional classrooms and must also be incorporated into educational technology for it to thrive. Kozma also emphasizes the importance of incorporating the best instructional strategies of activating background knowledge, real world application, synthesis, evaluation, group activities, and scaffolding, which will facilitate cognition and social learning. Thus, maximizing learners’ attainment of skills and achievement. Kozma used B. White’s Thinker Tools as a prime example of educational technology maximizing learning and surpassing the achievement of students taught in traditional classroom settings. Thinker Tools was designed to teach Newtonian Theory to 6th grade students. The design of the technology medium incorporated all of the best cognitive and social learning practices while also using the media visuals of Thinker Tools to replicate and provide hands on instruction regarding Newtonian Theory, which assisted in the success of this educational technology. Kozma advocates for various research methodologies to be used to conduct research that will further confirm his beliefs and enhance the performance of educational technology. He also discussed the fusion of cable television, telephones and video that would eventually have powerful impacts on the use of educational technology, which would lead to educational technology being a significant catalyst for higher lever cognition, educational collaboration and social learning.

Kozma provides compelling arguments in this article as well as provides a framework of how educational technology can powerfully enhance education and training. The ideas that he expressed have been the catalyst for much of the online learning, computer based training and various other educational technology tools that have indeed enhanced learning since his article was written. Therefore, Kozma’s ingenuity and support of educational technology were substantial views that have impacted the success of current educational technology. I definitely agree with Kozma’s views that educational technology must include the best instructional design methods to maximize its effectiveness, and it is the not the technology medium alone that will lead to learner cognition and achievement. Educational technologist must consider this theory in the development of learning applications that incorporate cognition through the use of real world application and problem solving, tactile activities for differentiation, synthesis, evaluation and collaboration. All of these components will further advance the field of educational technology.

As an elementary school and adult educator, I noticed that technology was not as effective in isolation, but was successful when facilitated using an integrated approach to learning. Educational technology was used to enhance a lesson plan by offering media to engage or hook learners at the beginning of the lesson, videos to bring text alive and reinforcement of skills that I taught through direct instruction. Therefore, technology integration should be thoughtfully planned out to elicit cognition, problem solving and real world scenario applications. Instructional design is paramount to ensuring that educational technology maximizes learner achievement.


Implications & Effectiveness of Educational Technology Research

Roblyer, M. D. (2005). Educational technology research that makes a difference: Series introduction.

This article discusses educational technology research and its implications on validating technology integration as an effective instructional tool in classrooms. Educational technology is consistently evolving and many school leaders and educators are proponents of the use of technology in education. However, other stakeholders in education believe that technology is not a necessary component of classroom instruction and may only be used because it is the popular thing to do. In order to evaluate the pros and cons of educational technology integration, there must be substantial, quality research conducted that builds on previous educational technology research to ascertain the effectiveness of educational technology in schools. Currently, there is not enough highly organized educational technology research that validates the effectiveness of technology in classrooms over extended time periods. Since technology is expensive and also requires funds to train educators, it is imperative that there is a return on its investment in education. Roblyer looks at educational technology from two perspectives which include the instructional design that is needed to implement technology effectively and the actual technology tools, such as computers or mobile devices that are selected to implement the use of technology. According to Roblyer (2005), “Despite Kozma’s (1991) insightful proposal that research should focus on technology-enhanced instructional designs, rather than the technologies themselves, research of the kind he proposed has been almost nonexistent.” (p. 193). Therefore, educational technology research should move towards focusing on how educators should design meaningful technology instruction that maximizes student success.

This article provides great insight regarding how educational technology can progress in research efforts, which will improve the way that technology is integrated in schools. Roblyer provides valid arguments on the ineffectiveness of how educational technology is currently being conducted, and provides solutions that can be beneficial in maximizing educational technology in schools. I agree that research should shift towards how we can implement better instructional design for technology integration, since this will ensure that educational technology implementation is related to specific objectives, appropriately provides instruction to meet student goals, is rigorous, differentiated and incorporates real world application. The implementation of Roblyer’s findings can have a positive impact on educational technology research, which will lead to improved student performance regarding the use of educational technology.

I have implemented educational technology in elementary school settings as well as in adult training. I discovered that technology integration can be beneficial in both settings. However, it must be well thought out and geared towards meeting specific objectives with meaningful technology activities. Educational technology should correlate with specific goals and not be used to simply occupy time or entertain students. The same components that are utilized to create a framework for lesson plans in other subjects should also be applied with technology integration into education to ensure student success.


Constructivism Versus Direct Instructional Guidance

DeSchryver, M. & Spiro, R.J. (2009) Constructivism: When it’s the wrong idea and when it’s the only idea.

This article analyzes and evaluates the pertinence of two instructional approaches including constructivism and direct instructional guidance. Although these learning techniques are quite different, they each have major proponents in the field of education. This article compares and contrasts the impact that these approaches have on student achievement. The findings in this article can be applied to K -12 education, higher educational settings and to the training of adult learners. Constructivist approaches to education seek to facilitate learning by holding the learner highly accountable for their own learning through the use of questioning, experiments, and minimizing scaffolding and the sharing of expertise that direct instructional guidance provides. Constructivism does not follow a specific routine or framework for the facilitation of knowledge. However, direct instructional guidance is more organized and maximizes student achievement through the use of clearer, explicit teaching, specific scaffolding techniques and structure. Constructivism and direct instructional guidance are classified as well structured domains or ill structured domains in this article. According to DeSchryver and Spiro (2009), “The success of well structured domains (WSDs) cannot extend to ill structured domains (ISDs), in principle, because of the very nature of those domains.” (p. 106). This is due to the disconnect in the approaches. Constructivism is considered to be more of an ill structured domain and direct instructional guidance is considered to be a more of a well structured domain. This article concludes that direct instructional guidance techniques that incorporate a thorough explanation of skills should be incorporated into learning to maximize learner achievement.

This article provides an excellent analysis and evaluation regarding the pros and cons of constructivism and direct instructional guidance. The use of ill structured domains and well structured domains to classify these approaches assist in evaluating the effectiveness of each approach. This information is crucial to educators in K-12 settings because most students lack the background knowledge to effectively master skills in a constructivist educational setting that does not use additional learning approaches. Also, many fields that require precision and mastery of skills such as healthcare cannot rely fully on a constructivist approach to learning. They must receive explicit direct instruction that will allow them to perform their jobs precisely, correctly and within compliance. A combination of both approaches may fit various educational settings. Therefore, educators must use their expertise and common sense to apply the delicate and effective balance of these approaches as they facilitate knowledge. The findings in this article are pertinent to the advancement of education and should be used to determine the best instructional practices that will meet the needs of students.

My experience as an educator includes ten years as an elementary educator and an instructional leader, corporate instructional design and corporate training. Therefore, I have been able to apply my knowledge as an educator in various educational arenas. The effectiveness of the constructivist approach and the direct instructional approach both stood out to me as I reflected on my years as an elementary educator. Based on my reflections, it is apparent that direct instructional guidance is pertinent to the mastery of skills for elementary students. They require explicit scaffolding of instruction that will lead to a foundation of success. Scaffolding is a tool that can be used to incorporate a constructivist approach that will assist with integrating the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. I believe that learning should primarily include a direct instructional approach, which will help students to master concrete concepts. After concrete concepts have been mastered, constructivism can facilitate higher levels of abstract learning, synthesis and evaluation.