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Using learning objects in critical thinking pedagogy and to facilitate entry into discourse communities

Warren R Longmire, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In educational and instructional technology communities, learning objects have generated a great deal of interest in recent years. The learning object paradigm promises many benefits, most of which have yet to be realized. This dissertation proposes approaches for using learning objects outside of the currently dominant approach, which could be characterized as course-centric and informed by skills training, knowledge-transfer, and a content-delivery orientation. The dissertation examines ways that objects can be used to support learners in two key areas central to the concerns of English departments: critical thinking and development of competence in academic (and other) discourses. I argue against the “seamless course” model of content-delivery in favor of an approach that capitalizes on the modular, component architecture of learning objects by letting learners access and manipulate objects at a granular level. Objects that are searchable, shareable, versionable and annotated provide new ways to represent, manipulate and evaluate structural knowledge, and to tie learning content to discursive knowledge. An ongoing concern throughout the dissertation is the necessary and fruitful bridging of the divide between education and training. It is argued that such a bridge is useful for object initiatives to integrate concept-learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, and the social construction of knowledge.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Composition|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Longmire, Warren R, "Using learning objects in critical thinking pedagogy and to facilitate entry into discourse communities" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096296.