Technology has brought about many changes in today’s society. We interact, exchange information, and socialize in whole new ways that were not even possible twenty years ago. These changes apply to all areas of life, and can even be incorporated into the classroom to bring about positive results in students. The use of technology in the classroom for cooperative learning, personalized learning, and group learning have the potential for great impact on the way learners learn and teachers teach.
Any educator in the classroom today would argue that students learn and retain information better when they are in a collaborative environment. Students need social interaction to help reinforce content and allow them an outlet for discussion and analysis. “Numerous studies have shown that students benefit positively in their academic and social development through cooperative learning” (Ramli, 2010).
Many psychologists have discussed the benefits of social interaction to learning. As Kim and Baylor point out in their article, A Social-Cognitive Framework for Pedagogical Agents as Learning Companions,
“Teaching and learning are highly social activities. Seminal psychologists such as Vygotsky, Piaget, and Bandura have theorized that social interaction is a key mechanism in the process of learning and development. In particular, the benefits of peer interaction for learning and motivation in classrooms have been broadly demonstrated through empirical studies” (Kim & Baylor, 2006).
In a traditional classroom, this would mean that students would be grouped together and then asked to have a discussion or work collaboratively on a project. Bringing technology into the education scene opens many new possibilities and outlets for cooperative learning to occur. “Advances in computer and communication technology are providing opportunities to augment human cognition, interaction, and even social relations” (Kim & Baylor, 2006).
Kim and Baylor have a unique idea to “augment human cognition” known as pedagogical agents. They state that
“In particular, pedagogical agents can be designed to simulate social interaction that may facilitate learners to engage in the learning task and consequently to enhance learning in computer-based environments. Pedagogical agents are animated life-like characters embedded in instructional applications. What makes pedagogical agents unique from conventional computer-based environments is their ability to simulate social interaction” (Kim & Baylor, 2006).
What they propose is not just an environment for collaboration to occur in, but for the student to accually socially interact and collaborate with the computer program or “environment” itself! What an out-of-this-world idea that is rapidly becoming a very real possibility.
In the 2010 article titled, Technology Enhanced Learning: Fostering Cooperative Learning Through the Integration of Online Communication as Part of Teaching and...