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  • Learning Artifacts Study

    Currently in higher education we are engaged in a fundamental change in the nature of practice; roles for teachers and students are shifting away from a traditional, teacher-centered pedagogy and toward active, student-centered classrooms. The tools we use in education practice are also changing; yet, the influx of electronic technology has not managed to replace other traditional tools so much as add to an ever-growing arsenal of teaching and learning artifacts -- including blackboards and whiteboards, overhead projectors, classroom furniture, audio and video, and a whole host of other classroom artifacts we often take for granted. The term "artifact" refers to a human-made, designed object of cultural significance, which, upon investigation, can provide insight into the nature of practice or meaning-making for a group of people. The artifacts which are present in our learning environments also shed light on the nature of knowing and doing in learning communities. The use of such artifacts is not crystallized, but rather, as the nature of practice changes in a given community, the roles of particular tools also change. This project seeks to address the reflexive nature of artifacts and learning practices in higher education: how the tools we use affect the learning that takes place, and also how our pedagogical goals and practices determine how we use and appropriate artifacts to serve those purposes. Through video cases of teaching at UIUC, narrative interviews, and surveys of faculty and students we are building an analytical framework describing how learning artifacts function in higher education -- a framework derived from actual classroom practices, which can then be used to inform the design of learning environments, technology support, and higher education pedagogy.

    Last updated: 11 Nov 2002
    URL: http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/artifacts/