This WBL framework will map the instructional strategy of case-based learning through the instructional application of a Cognitive Flexibility Hypertext (CFH) to Hypermedia/Hypertext as a Web feature by linking it to associated learning strategies, technologies, functionality and theoretical constructs in a Web-based learning environment. The mapping will first be presented in a matrix and then the matrix elements will be hyperlinked to elaborations, explanations, rationales, and examples.
Note: All links will be anchored in the same page except for the external links.
A Defining Quote!In a Hypermedia Learning Environment, the learner is potentially a navigator, an explorer, a pioneer, and a visionary. The learner negotiates hyperspace and becomes a navigator by traversing established links. As an explorer, the learner creates new links to previously known, but unrelated territories. The learner is a pioneer venturing through unchartered nodes. The learner is a visionary by imagining the unexplored (Burnett, 1993).
|Instructional Strategy and Instructional Application||Learning Strategies||Functionality in WBL, Theoretical Construct or Rationale||Associated Technologies||Web Features|
|Macro instructional strategy: Case-based learning
Micro instructional strategies:
Reintroduction of the Wolf into the Southeast: an example of a CFH
Functionality in WBL:
|Browsers, scripting languages and
tools that support links:
Case-based learning is an instructional strategy based on the use of cases, narratives, and or stories about individulas facing decisions or dilemmas (Waterman & Stanley, http://www.bioquest.org/usernote.html). Case-based learning encourages exploration of the case and consideration of the issues in the case in light of its characters' actions and circumstances. Students typically work through a case to identify problems and to construct meaningful knowledge in relation to prior knowledge and experience. Case-based learning promotes articulation, reflection and exploration as learning strategies. Cases have traditionally been used to teach decision making skills in professional education, as exemplified in the Harvard Business School case approach (Christensen and Hansen, 1987).
There are many instructional models and applications that use case-based learning as an instructional strategy. These include Problem-Based Learning, Situated Learning and Cognitive Flexibility Hypertexts (CFH). These models are rooted in constructivist epistemology (see relationship between constructivism and case-based learning at: http://22.214.171.124/pacee/steps/tutorial/casebasedlearning.htm#2.
This WBL framework will discuss the implementation of case-based learning through the implementation of a CFH. One of the distinguishing features between a CFH and other models that use a case-based approach is that cases in a CFH are interconnected through themes and perspectives and learners browse cases through a Hypermedia Learning Environment that makes these interconnections possible. The model is based on the theory of cognitive flexibility and the concept of hypermedia/hypertext.
Cognitive flexibility has been heralded as a powerful theoretical framework for designing hypermedia-based learning materials (Borsook & Higgenbotham-Wheat, 1992). Cognitive flexibility theory is based on a metaphor of the domain as a “landscape” to be criss-crossed by the learner in order to model the multiplicity of perspectives and contexts of the domain. Using hypertext allows the designer to mirror the nature of the domain within the instructional materials, using a case-based approach in which learners are shown multiple representations and perspectives on each domain-specific case, with cases interconnected across themes and perspectives.
Jacobson (1994) broke down cognitive flexibility theory into seven elements which can be implemented in designing hypertexts. These are:
Flexibility Hypertext (CFH) is a hypermedia learning environment
that allows 'multiple juxtapositions of instructional content' through
a large and complex conceptual structure (Spiro et al. p. 65 in Duffy &
Jonassen). Implicit in the design of a CFH is a conceptual structure search
which allows the learner to 'criss-cross' the conceptual landscape by viewing
different example cases that show the many uses of the concept under exploration.
Cases contain several themes and knowledge is interrelated through the
themes that cut across the cases enabling the learner to focus on the interconnectedness
of the knowledge domain in a situated context. This method of representing
instructional content through intersecting themes and cases spawns the
constructivist principle of knowledge construction requiring learners to
assemble a flexible schema that is situation specific. Browsing through
the hypermedia learning environment, learners are exposed to multiple perspectives
of the content and must analyze the issues by understanding the processes
that link the cases to each other. This has implications of high interconnectivity
which accounts for flexibility in application (Jonassen, 1992). Web-based
hypermedia learning environments are based on the concepts of hypertext
The concept of hypertext was originated by Ted Nelson in the early 1970s as a vision of what computers could allow us to do with the written word (Nelson, 1974). He realized that, so far as its computer implementation was concerned, a text was simply a form of data, and could be treated as a data structure, or database, as easily as it could be scrolled across a screen in the traditional way. It would be possible to "dip into" a large text at any point, using search algorithms to locate what we were looking for. And, for the computer, two texts in the same file, or in linked files, were essentially part of the same database. Cross-reference between these texts could be seamless, with the reader or user seeing only a single, composite text. Nelson imagined all the libraries of the world as one integrated textual database, and each particular "text" as a hypertext: a selective guide to information that would actually be located in many other texts. (Lemke, J.L., April 1993, Interpersonal Computing and Technology, volume 1, no. 2, Available at: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~ipct-j/1993/n2/lemke.txt).
Hypertext, at its most basic level, is a DBMS (database management system) that lets you connect screens of information using associative links. At its most sophisticated level, hypertext is a software environment for collaborative work, communication, and knowledge acquisition. Hypertext products mimic the brain's ability to store and retrieve information by referential links for quick and intuitive access (http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0037.html).
Hypermedia is the term used to stress the multimedia aspect of the hypertext system since the traditional definition of the term hypertext implies that it is a system for dealing with plain text. Many people use the terms hypertext and hypermedia interchangeably. Hypertext is a natural technique for supporting multimedia interfaces (such as Web browsers) since it is based on the interlinking of nodes that may contain different media. Typical media in hypermedia nodes are text, graphics, video, and sound (Nielsen, 1990).
As Ted Nelson puts it (and this was way back in 1970):
Hypertexts and hypergrams, then, are two new species of media for the computer age: personal, dynamic, and contradictory of the heavy-handed and stupid "computer" in the general stereotype. Hypertext, or writing that can branch or perform, is seen in the Software show's "Labyrinth" piece, wherein the visitor may browse through a maze of writings on the screen. "Hypergrams," branching or performing pictures, will be the pictorial equivalent. Designing the detailed activities of the presenting systems is an important task, demanding technical knowledge, love and appreciation for words and pictures, and a sense of alternatives and inspiration (The crafting of Media, 1970, http://www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~ted/TN/PUBS/CraftMedia.html).
Hypermedia is the scholar's and the scientist's dream. It is instant intertextuality without unnecessary efforts by author or reader; it is immediate inclusion of reference material in any medium, with the freedom for the reader to follow any thread as far (even beyond the author's pointing) as wished. In a Web-based learning environment this concept is known as browsing. Browsing is a non-sequential activity that can be "facilitated in a deliberate way by arranging information in a way within which exploration can take place" (Oddy, 1977). There are several ways in which users approach browsing that are worth mentioning here (McAleese, R., 1999):
Associated Technology (text links and graphic links):
"Hypertext consists of interlinked pieces of text of other information. These pieces can be computer screens, scrolling windows, files, or smaller bits of information. Each unit of information is called a node. Whatever the grain size of these nodes, each of them may have pointers to other units, and these pointers are called links." (Nielsen, 1990, p.2). The entire hypertext structure forms a network of nodes and links. Readers move about this network in an activity that is often referred to as browsing or navigating, rather thanjust reading to emphasize that user must actively determine the order in which they read the nodes. A hypertext link connects two nodes and is normally directed in the sense that it points from one node (often called the anchor node) to another (called the destination node).
Scripting languages such as HTML, DHTML, VRML, and Java Script enable designers to create hypertext links as described above (here I should have links to external sites or links to relevant Web pages in our course for each of these technologies).
Computer programs are also available (e.g. Hypercard and its extensions, like Storyspace; e.g. Bolter et al. 1990, Bolter 1991) in which it is possible to create linkages between particular points in one text, including the one you are currently writing or reading, and points (and the associated text) in several other works. There are also commercial software programs (authoring systems, e.g. Toolbook, Hypercard and Supercard, Macromedia Director, Authorware Professional) that enable an author to design, not simply a sequence of words that can be read as a user wishes, but a branching system of textual, and non-textual elements, with both internal and external links, that a user can interact with, in effect creating a different instance-text each time the system is used.
Users of such systems browse or
scan or search or trace ideas from one element to another. They expect
rapid access to the information required. Instant access to information
is important in developing ideas (Neilsen, 1990). This information seeking
activity is the simplest form of information browsing which is an important
feature of hypermedia learning environments.
Functionality and theoretical constructs in WBL:
Hypermedia learning environments can provide several levels of scaffolding for learners by specifying the degree of control the learner has in selecting the path of traversing the content. They may vary from rigid prespecification and prestructuring of routines for knowledge use, to immersion in a totally unstructured environment (Sprio, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, In Duffy & Jonassen). For novice learners, a suggested navigation path can be essential to the success of the learning environment and the participation of the learner. However as learners progress, they shift from a highly scaffolded navigation mode to a 'free exploration' mode where they independently traverse the themes increasing their active participation in learning the processes of knowledge assembly (Ed Tech, Spiro).
The degree of structure imposed on information in a hypermedia learning environment like a CFH determines the type of browsing the learner will have. According to McAleese (1999) there are three types of browsing: systematic, purposeful, and serendipitous. In a CFH, browsing should be purposeful. Batley (in McAleese page 8) describes the distinction between specific and purposeful browsing as follows:
Specific: where the user searches for information within certain parameters; andThe idea is that the learner begins with some knowledge of the intended direction of his/her search which is not casual or haphazard (focused browsing) and progresses to a more general purposeful browsing where the learner is discovering unspecified but useful information.
Purposeful: more exploratory process where the user searches for information without creating boundaries within which to concentrate effort.
In the example of the Reintroduction
of the Wolf to the Southeast, there is some structure imposed on the
information in the homepage so that the learner can begin browsing within
certain parameters (focused or specific browsing) but as the learner gets
deeper into the hypertext, the browsing becomes more purposeful (learner
controlled) than guided by the parameters of the CFH. As the learner becomes
more self-directed, he/she shifts to this 'free exploration' mode excercising
mode control over their learning process.
The term "learner control" refers to a computer based instructional design feature in which students are given control over some portion of the instructional lesson (Brezinski, K., University of Scranton, Available at: http://academic.uofs.edu/student/brezinskik1/intro.html, accessed 07/00). So learner control is really a concept (or more appropriately a construct in this context) that materialized with the proliferation of Computer-based Instruction. You can also think of learner control as an instructional strategy if it is intentionally integrated into the teaching and learning process by the designer or instructor.
"Providing learner control" is an instructional strategy that allows learners to have more ownership of the learning process by giving them control over the sequence, pace, and content of instruction (Milheim & Martin, 1991). Duffy and Cunningham argue though that this perspective of learner control is indicative of the objectivist view of learning since the learner has no control over the learning activity (how they wish to learn the content) and the content is divorced from any learning activity as mastery of content is the ultimate objective of the instruction.
More recently however, and with the proliferation of constructivist
models and constructivist learning environments, the construct of learner
control could be interpreted under a different light. For example, the
concept of "focused browsing" as desribed above, can be interpreted as
a technique to increase or decrease the learner's control over the learning
environment and in particular, over their learning activities (wherther
they want to search, take notes, ask the expert, browse more cases, contribute
a case, etc.). A novice learner might stick to the suggested navigation
structure or parameters of the hypertext whereas a more experienced learner
might follow a more purposeful but freer exploration path that is not easily
discernable in the hypertext. As Ross and Morrison point out (in Duffy
and Cunningham, 1996), there are two assumptions that determine the degree
to which a learner can exercise control over learning activities: "learners
know what is best for them, and learners are capable of acting appropriately
on that knowledge" (p.186). This quote shows a significant correlation
between the construct of learner control
and the construct of self-directed or
self-regulated learning. The more a learner "knows what is best" for him/her
and is able to set and carry out self-instructional goals appropriately
in a learning environment, the more self-directed or self-regulated this
learner is. Both of these constructs work hand in hand and have a significant
effect on the success of a CFH as a hypermedia learning environment. Care
must be taken to provide the right scaffolding for the user in order to
move from guided (specific) to unguided (more purposeful) browsing.
So what is self-directed learning then? It could be described, as stated above:
the ability of a learner to know what is best for him/her and to be capable of acting appropriately on that knowledgeAlternatively, it could also be described as student-centered learning where the student is placed at the center of the learning environment and the primary responsibility of the instructor is to facilitate the learning process by selecting appropriate learning activities and encouraging application of the content. The theory of andragogy is actually built around this concept and is is based on the assumption that adults are self-directed learners as they are usually are goal oriented, interested in learning through problem-solving activities, and willing to assume responsibility for acquiring content on their own (Clugston, 1996) .
The literature on self-directed learning has also elaborated on the significance of self-regulation, learner/program control, and the extent to which each should be implemented withing a hypermedia learning environment (IMMRESEARCH/sr.html). Piskorich (1995) claims that hypermedia is inherently self-directed since learners have to determine their own path and make their own decisons. Others view the need for guided exploration and program advisement in a hypermedia learning environment, claiming that most learners do not have adequate metacognitive skills nor do they employ appropriate learner-control strategies to exercise good judgement when interacting with a hypermedia learning environment. It is suggested therefore, based on empirical research, that the design of hypermedia learning environments include guidance, assistance, and structural aids to help learners manage their own learning and become more self-directed (Park & Hannafin, 1993).
Exploratory learning is yet another concept (construct) that is inherent in hypermedia learning environments. As described by Roblyer and Havriluk (1996) exploratory learning (or learning through exploration) is a constructivist approach that stresses flexibility in achieving desired goals rather than merely "getting the right answer". Advocates of directed instruction refer to exploration as discovery learning. As pointed out however by Duffy and Cunningham (1996), discovery learning is associated with active invovlement in problem-solving. A CFH promotes problem-solving through the challenges posed by the its cases. In fact, as argued above, case-based learning is a form of problem-solving. The learner is exploring all possibilities in order to arrive at a viable and meaningful solution. Duffy and Cunningham remind us that we should think of discovery learning as an "invention" or a personal construction rather than finding what exists. Using this perspective, exploratory learning is best-suited for the teaching of ill-structured domains where there are multiple perspectives and representations of the content, and where learners are required to "invent defensible understandings" (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p.183). In other words, exploratory learning is what happens when learners are browsing a CFH.
Exploration as a learning strategy is also discussed
In Computer-based learning environments (CBI), content is typically presented in a logical and linear order requiring students little processing effort to solve problems or understand the content. When knowledge is presented through a broader and more complex base such as in a hypertext system, students are required to predict, experiment, and hypothesize in order to produce a viable and meaningful solution (Oliver, Herrrington, & Omari, 1997, AusWeb97). It is also argued that the "increased use of hierarchical and referential links and associations in documents reduces the linearity of the instructional pathway", thereby encouraging reflection and metacognition and assisting students in focusing more attention onto their own thought processes (Collins & Brown, 1988). A CFH is inherently non-linear and associative in its structure and therefore affords students these reflective opportunities through selective browsing, searching, and increased levels of learner control.
Reflection can also be considered a comprehension monitoring strategy (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986) where learners are checking for comprehension failures through self-questioning, asking the expert, note-taking and negotiating with other students. Reflection then is a metacognitive strategy that needs to be acquired. It required learners to monitor their own learning.
Reflection is also described by Wilson and Cole 91996) as "having students look back over their efforts to complete a task and analyze their own performance (p. 606)". Wilson and Cole continue to say that reflection is like articulation except that it is pointed backwards to previous tasks. In a CFH learners can point backwards by looking at their jounals (note-taking efforts), solutions to cases they have solved or contributed, and questions they have asked.
Articulation can be defined as making tacit knowledge overt or explicit. This can be achieved in a variety of ways which inlcude working in groups, discussing the issues, reporting back, presenting findings, interviewing and debating the issues, and negotiating and defending knowledge acquired through learning environments (Oliver, Herrrington, & Omari, 1997, AusWeb97). In a hypermedia learning environment, and in particular in a CFH, articulation can be accompished through solving cases, debating cases with other learners, contributing new cases, themes and perspectives to the hypertext database, presenting knowledge through reflective journals and communicating views to an expert or a coach.
Articulation can also be described as a complex elaboration strategy (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986). Weinstein and Mayer present the following learner activities as means to articulate one's knowledge: summarizing, paraphrasing, creating analogies, generative notetaking and questions answering. They argue that elaborative encoding models cognitive processing models that are based on schema theory. Of the activities listed above, creating analogies, generative notetaking and questions answering are the most relevant to learning in a CFH.
Exploration "encourages students to try out different strategies and hypothesis and observe their effects (Wilson & Cole, 1996)". The benefits of exploration include:
Here is my attempt to tie everything together. The idea is to provide a rationale as to why case-based learning as an instructional strategy, applied through a CFH, maps to self-directed learning, reflection, and articulation as learning strategies and to Hypermedia/Hypertext as Web features, creating in the process a Hypermedia Learning Environment that is predicated on the constructs of non-linear focused browsing, exploratory learning, and learner control.
Having articulated the characteristics of a Hypermedia Learning environment above, and tied it to the constructs of focused browsing, exploratory learning, and learner control, I would like to focus on the relationship between hypermedia/hypertext and Cognitive Flexibility theory which hopefully will provide the rationale that supports the mapping of the instructional strategy to the learning strategies to the Web features.
It has been argued that hypermedia/hypertext structures enable students not only to acquire the knowledge embedded in these structures but the structure itself. This belief about hypertext learning environments was described by Cunningham, Duffy, and Knuth (1993) in the following quote:
Users will browse the hyperscpace, serendipituosly acquiring knowledge and the structure of the database as represented in the links. In other words, by traversing the links within the hypertext a user will acquire the content and the form of the database (p.38)This belief is predicated on "three basic interrelated assumptions concerning the inherent potential of hypertext-based systems" which are that:
Despite the dismal results of the experimental studies and the criticisms against the effectiveness of hypertext systems on cognitive processing, Tergan (1997) simplified the argument for and against the plausibility hypothesisby relating the type of cognitive processing in hypermedia/hypertext environments to the type of task to be accomplished. His assumption was that a node could be perceived as a mental unit for representing complex knowledge since this corresponds best to the notion of a node in hypertext terminology and also to the notion of cognitive components of knowledge in cognitive flexibility theory. Therefore if the task is to acquire complex and ill-structured knowledge domains, then hypermedia/hypertext learning environments like a CFH is most-suited for this purpose.
The following quote, also from Tergan's article, supports the mapping of case-based learning through a CFH to the learning strategies of self-directed learning, reflection, articulation and exploration:
It is assumed that hypertext/hypermedia, because of the lack of predefined structure in the hypertext-basis and the freedom to randomly access all information units, will induce active, explorative, and self-regulated learning behaviors which in turn give support to constructive cognitive processes (Tergan, 1997, p.262).Case-based learning is one of the "five teaching architectures" that encourages active learning (Schank & Cleary, 1995). Environments that encourage active learning are based on learners making decisions about task, content, navigation, presentation, and assessment (self-directed learning and learner control). Learners make use of a number of cognitive strategies that enable them to elaborate on their own existing knowledge and understanding (articulation). Learners also engage in reflective practice by interacting with what if scenarios, having access to experts or coaches throught the instruction, and being able to try different solutions to a problem and evaluate their results (i.e. metacogntive strategies such as reflection). The above are all characteristics of Hypermedia Learning Environments and in particular, characteristics of a CFH. For more information on Hypermedia and Active learning, please visit: