Hypertext and Critical Thinking

In our world today learning is an active process in which students construct their knowledge on experiences both past and present. Knowledge is not obtained from another person but from what we create ourselves. The skills and knowledge that we need today have changed significantly since the early days of print. What and how we learn is no longer associated with one type of thinking. Much like an electronic information system, “there is no single, linear order of …[experiences] to determine how the reader should move through the pages [learning]”(Bolter, 2001, p.98).

The World Wide Web and the use of hypertext have enabled our students to reach beyond the rigid limitations of the printed books and offer a greater chance to contextualize their learning. The learning environment of electronic devices offers flexibility and a faster pace to learning. This new type of thinking has created digital learners today that are use to accessing information easily and readily thus altering the learning process while developing critical thinkers.

Critical thinking is now developed not only within school environments but also through the World Wide Web. It offers the ability to recognize multiple viewpoints through hypertext and gain insight into how concepts are interconnected. Our ability to find connections extends are learning into ‘deeper thinking’ through hypertextual links and offers students a new way of learning. Learning is no longer stagnant but continuous for both the teacher and the student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

About Sarah Richer


passionate Canadian educator, creating a sustainable global shift 4 ed reform, researcher, tech enthusiast, mac lover, Studying Masters of Edu. Tech (MET)@UBC, Mississauga, Ontario · http://flare48-educationinthe21stcentury.blogspot.com/

6 Comments

  1. John Myers /

    The picture begs some questions

    “How do we know that the ‘new’ technologies do what we claim in the text?”
    “If the printing press was a tool developed by the printers, writers, and editors over decades,
    what role does the skilled teacher play?”

  2. I find it rather humorous, yet hypocritical on educators’ stance on – ” In our world today learning is an active process in which students construct their knowledge on experiences both past and present. Knowledge is not obtained from another person but from what we create ourselves.”

    As a parent, it has never been my experience that my children create knowledge on their own. If that was true there would be no need for parents and as John has stated, no need for the skilled teachers. Humorous, as I stated earlier because the computer, its technology and devices are supposedly the gateway for continuous learning, and ergo learning does not become stagnant.

    The 21st century technology and its devices, has created for the first time in humankind’s history, the tools to access knowledge at their fingertips. The knowledge banks are no longer held and control by the small elite and its agencies. No longer are we confined to obtaining knowledge through books, other printed medium , viewing television and films, or seek knowledge through the confines of an academic setting.

    However, seeking knowledge is one thing, but what is more important is how the knowledge is transformed for the individual. In what ways, the interpretations and for what purposes that the knowledge is being sought, that requires critical thinking to take place. A person with a weaker set of skills in reading and writing, would have a difficult time to used their critical thinking skills to their best use, compared to an individual with a firm foundation in the 3 Rs. Likewise, the values and belief systems of individuals will colour their critical thinking processes, that ultimately leads to multiple viewpoints and opinions of the individuals, that is extrapolated in the text medium.

    In my experience, the adults should be teaching the skills that enables children or students to sort out the knowledge. In schools, I would duly expect the educators to build the essential foundation skills first, in order to access the world wide web , where the outcomes would be increasing knowledge. Isn’t learning a process? Isn’t learning a given, whenever there is the presence of the brain? The science files on the web, have informed me, when I went seeking knowledge on everything on dyslexia, learning disabilities, in 2003, to help my child. Rather ironic, when I presented the factual information on dyslexia/learning disabilities to the school, it was dismissed as hailing from suspect sources, that did not hailed from the public education field. In the same way the current thinking of critical thinking and its processes are in dispute.

    As a parent, I can easily refute the last comment using the web’s resources and knowledge to rendered the text words of – ” Our ability to find connections extends are learning into ‘deeper thinking’ through hypertextual links and offers students a new way of learning. Learning is no longer stagnant but continuous for both the teacher and the student.” – to an opinion of belief.

    At the end of the day, the 21st century technology and its devices are tools, that enables the users to access knowledge, but it is no guarantee the user will learn. As I found out, when I presented the knowledge on dyslexia, only to be rejected by the education officials because the knowledge was not in keeping with the belief systems of those who work within the education system. Or when marks were taken off, when my dyslexic child used the standard algorithm methods to calculate, to always arrived at the correct answer. In the latter case, old knowledge is rejected by the educators, and in its replacement, a belief of using many different methods to calculate based on a belief, that leads to conceptual understanding and learning.

    Critical thinking is in the eye of the beholder, but like other skills, critical thinking beyond the obvious must be taught explicitly. A skilled teacher, is a must for students, just like parents building and improving their skills must have the knowledge that best suits the needs of their family, for progress to occur. In my eyes, it is all about the knowledge, and if indeed the learning is passive or active. The 21st century technology and the devices, are just the tools to access the knowledge, just like a book is, turning the pages…….constructing knowledge is a process of many, and not the exclusive territory of the individual. If it were, the world would be in a greater mess than what it is now, but that is my opinion, based on my own experiences and personal knowledge banks.

    • Nancy and John,

      I do believe that teachers still play a critical role with developing critical thinking skills. I believe that with new technology comes greater opportunity to develop and developing our thinking. If used properly and supported within the school system I think hypertext would be a valuable resource.

  3. John Myers /

    “If used properly. . .” is key. I await seeing enough examples of this proper use to help me and my teachers promote student learning.
    Too often i see, for examples in presentation tools like Prezi and Powerpoint, more stress on the glitz and less on the thinking about the subject matter presented.

    I am currently in the second year of a little action research looking at “appropriate use’ of the the “toys” so that they really become “tools” for learning.

  4. It’s enormous that you are getting ideas from this post as well as from our discussion made here.

  5. Very interesting points you have observed , thankyou for putting up. “The biggest fool may come out with a bit of sense when you least expect it.” by Eden Phillpotts.

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