Lintern, G., Aptima Inc, USA and Provost, S., Southern Cross University, Australia
Information Technology (IT) is now often seen as offering major benefits for delivery of education and training in a cost-effective manner. In June of 2000, a number of Australian academics assembled for a workshop at the University of Sydney to discuss how contemporary psychological knowledge may contribute to the most effective and appropriate utilisation of IT in learning environments (e-learning). Educational goals include the acquisition of relevant skills, facts and knowledge, promoting the development of higher-order thinking processes, fostering student responsibility and initiative, and cultivating collaboration among students and educators. Workshop discussion of psychology's contribution to understanding how best to foster these goals covered a broad range of topics reflecting the participants' varied expertise. Fundamental to this discussion was the assumption that understanding (knowledge, principles and theory) emerges largely out of experience and that a deeper understanding of a domain grows initially out of a broader, more systematic corpus of experience. Strategies that encourage active learning and investigation within authentic environments were viewed as a means of facilitating student development in this manner. A variety of issues relating to the role of IT in the design of such learning environments were discussed, including case-based learning, the role of metacognition, equity and cultural differences, and the need to balance secondary experience (of the virtual world) with primary experience (of the natural or physical world). Case studies illustrating effective use of psychological principles in e- learning were also provided.