MindTools

TO stimulate thoughts, or increase or built up new or existing intelligence, we have the enviroment, people, objects, or tools. Thus, we term it as cognitive tools or simply put it as mind tools.

Before looking at what exactly are mind tools, we, first, need to understand what is mind or cognitve.

         “The alleged cognitive element in an experience is purely non-mental.”
                                                                                                    Samuel Alexander

Cognitive is commonly known to be related to the brain. Generally, cognitive involves the mental process of thoughts which occured in the brain. Looking closely, cognitive encompasses building up new or current knowledge or schemata. There are many aspects in regards to cognitivism.

Examples of psychologists who studied on cognitive development will be none other than Piaget. Piaget developed the most influential theory, namely theory of cognitive development which provides fundamental basis for the fieldwork in intelligence.

We even have another aspect of cognitive call metacognition, which is known as thinking about cognition (memory, perception, calculation, association, etc.) itself or to thinking/reasoning about one’s own thinking.

Next, there are studies on social cognition, example by Albert Bandura, whom the social cognition theory believes that one’s modified or existing behaviour is influenced by the environment or vice versa.

Now, let’s look at mindtools.

Mindtools are computer applications that, when used by learners to represent what they know, necessarily engage them in critical thinking about the content they are studying (Jonassen, 1996).

According to Jonassen et al (1998), mindtools scaffold different forms of reasoning about content. Using mindtools requires the users to think about they know in different yet meaningful methods. Example, quoted by Jonassen et al (1998), When a student uses Database, he or she will be engaged in analytical reasoning, whereby creating an expert system rule base requires the student to think of causal relationship between ideas. If no in-depth thought process occurs while studying with the aid of an object, thus, that object should not be referred as mindtool.

Mindtools are classified to several categories (Jonassen, in press):-

1. Semantic organization tools):-

These tools aid in analysing and organizing what the learners know or learn, in terms of associating semantic relationship between or among ideas. Such tools are database (refer to Microsoft Access) and concept mapping (mind-map).

2. Dynamic modelling tools

By using these tools, the learner will be able to see the dynamic relationship between or among ideas or items. Example of these tools are spreadsheets (remember Microsoft Excel), system modelling tools (shows how the system should be working. This technique is used to examine how various components work together to produce a particular outcome), and microworlds (example 1, example 2).

3. Information interpreting tools

With the extensive volume and complexity of information, information interpreting tools in the form of search engines such as Google, and AskJeeves help to access, process that information e.g. via clustering and classifying.

4. Knowledge construction tools

With these tools like hypermedia (example 1, example 2), the learner gains knowledge by constructing objects. While constructing, the learner will have in-depth understanding on the object. This may lead to newly found shemata.

5. Conversation and collaboration tools

Learning also takes place through the process of social negotiation. Tools such as Chats (MiRC, Yahoo Messenger), Moos (MUD object oriented) Example1Muds (Multi-User Dungeon, Domain or Dimension), asynchronous discussion (email, forum) and even video conferencing support information collection which includes information exchange, electronic publishing, electronic frield trips, etc.

These categorized tools, I believe, can be associated with the 5 listed skills:-

1. Project management skills
2. Research skills
3. Organization and representation skills
4. Presentation skills
5. Reflection skills

Some of the tools, depending on the specific examples of mindtools, may involve all the 5 benefits while some may only relate to less than 5. Here is a part of literature review which touches on how technology functions as Mindtools.

 

References:
Theory of cognitive development at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Cognitive_development on 03 March

07 Metacognition at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition on 03 March 07

Huitt, W. (2002). Social cognition. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved 03 March 07 from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/soccog/soccog.html. Jonassen et al (1998). Computers as Mindtools for Engaging learners in Critical Thinking. Techtrends, v43 n2 p24-32   www.coe.missouri.edu/~jonassen/Mindtools.pdf

Jonassen, D.H. (1996). Computers in the classroom: Mindtools for critical thinking.Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Jonassen, D.H. (in press). Mindtools for engaging critical thinking in the classroom, 2nd Ed. Columbus, OH: Prentice-Hall.

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