Higher Level Thinking and ICT
Workshop on the 13th September
Rationale for Developing
‘Students cannot learn in school everything they will
need to know in adult life. What they must acquire is
the prerequisites for successful learning in future life.
Students must become able to organise and regulate
their own learning, to learn independently and in
groups, and to overcome difficulties in the learning
process. This requires them to be aware of their own
thinking processes and learning strategies and
methods.’ (OECD, 1999)
Does this sound familiar??
At first glance the essay looked impressive. But the
beautifully presented information was deceptive.
There was no analysis or coherence. My student
Emma had just cut and pasted pages from different
websites."But I got that bit from Encarta," she
remonstrated when I pointed out that chunks of data
laid out as spreadsheets are not meaningful just
because sourced from the web. She was reluctant to
accept that a scrappily hand-written essay by a peer
was better, as it was cogent and enlightening
It seems that our “technologically advanced”
classrooms aren't much different from how classrooms
were before the advent of computers. We have
“integrated” technology into our classrooms-by simply
tacking it on. We now have students take online
quizzes, assign them slide presentations rather than
paper-based reports. We use PowerPoint slides to
present our lectures, instead of chalk and blackboards.
When assigned a research project, students quickly find
Web pages on the Internet, cut and paste information
onto their slides, and then spend the remainder of class
time playing with colors and animations. They are no
more engaged with the curricular topic than they were
before the computers arrived, perhaps even less so
A meaningful, unified approach to
providing students with the skills they
will need for their futures must be more
than a checklist of isolated technology
skills, such as knowing the parts of a
computer, writing drafts and final
products with a word processor, or
searching for information using a CD-
So what do we need to do?
We need to start asking ourselves more challenging
questions when it comes to the implementation of
instructional technology-not just “So how do I use
Used thoughtfully, instructional technology is a
powerful active-learning tool that enables us to
efficiently discover, analyse, and share information.
We can have our students demonstrate their
knowledge in a variety of forms, like databases,
spreadsheets, original graphics, web pages,
publications, podcasts, and blogs. Even more
importantly, we can do all this while encouraging our
students to think for themselves and develop skills
that are lasting and practical.
The Advantages of ICT
Speed and Automatic functions: enabling large
amounts of information to be handled and routine
tasks to be automated
Provisionality: the ability to change texts and other
outputs with minimum cost or effort
Interactivity: the capacity for feedback and response
Range: the capacity to overcome barriers of time and
Multi-modality: the capacity to integrate a range of
modes of communication including film, graphics,
sounds and texts.
If an ICT activity isn’t making use of one of the above
then WHY USE ICT for that activity!!
Introduction to Mind Tools
“MindTools” describe using computer technology in
“constructivist ways” to engage learners in thinking
critically about whatever content they are studying.
Rather than learning from technology, a mindtool
allows the learner to learn by using technology to think
more deeply and meaningfully about how to represent
what they know.
Instead of students being controlled by computers,
students enhance the capabilities of the computer, and
the computer enhances their thinking and learning. The
result of this partnership is that the whole of the
learning becomes greater than the sum of its parts
Classes of Mindtools
Jonassen (1998) classifies mindtools as follows:
1. semantic organisation tools
2. dynamic modelling tools (spreadsheets and
3. information interpretation tools (search)
4. conversation tools (chat,email)
5. visualisation tools (graphics software and 3D
1. Semantic Mindtools
Semantic organisation tools enable learners
to analyse and organise what they know or
what they are learning.
One of the best known semantic organisation
tools is semantic networking/ concept
Another common one is developing and using
One of the reasons concept mapping is so powerful
for the facilitation of meaningful learning is that it
serves as a kind of template or scaffold to help to
organize knowledge and to structure it
The domain of knowledge needs to be very familiar
to the person constructing the map.
Every concept map responds to a focus question, and
a good focus question can lead to a much richer
Good maps usually result from three to many
revisions. This is one reason why using computer
software is helpful.
Concept maps are effective in identifying both valid
and invalid ideas held by students
Constructing content databases requires learners to
develop a data structure, locate relevant information,
insert it in appropriate fields and records, and search
and sort the database to answer content queries. A
large number of critical thinking skills are required to
use and construct knowledge-oriented databases.
The student contructing the database must ask him/herself
What do I want to use it for?
For what type of questions should the contents provide
How must I phrase the questions to access the
How can I use the fields and which fields should I use?
Ideas of how to use the
database with the class
when data entered
1. Use the sort tool to
organise records by their
population. Is there a trend
between population and
medal tally? Try doing this
for other database fields
looking for patterns.
2. Use the Match tool to
look for countries that
speak English. What do
you notice? Why do you
think this is?
A Wiki can be thought of as a combination of a Web site
and a Word document. At its simplest, it can be read just
like any other web site, with no access privileges
necessary, but its real power lies in the fact that groups
can collaboratively work on the content of the site using
nothing but a standard web browser.
They are totally democratic - the users rule - which helps
establish community of learning
Wikis save copies of successively edited versions; thus,
work that has been deleted or defaced can be recovered.
Constructivist teaching requires the teacher to relinquish
some degree of control over the learning. The instructor’s
role shifts to that of establishing contexts or setting up
problems to engage students. In a wiki, the instructor may
set the stage or initiate interactions, but the medium works
most effectively when students can assert meaningful
autonomy over the process.
Wikipedia is just ONE form of Wiki on the net. There
are many other types of wikis.
They could be used with our special abilities students.
They could be working with similar students from
schools across our cluster constructing knowledge
together on a wiki.
Some Useful Website Links
Using wikis in education
Wikis - ready or not
2 Dynamic Modelling Tools
While semantic organisation tools help
learners to represent the semantic
relationships among ideas, dynamic modeling
tools help learners to describe the dynamic
relationships among ideas.
Dynamic modeling tools include
spreadsheets, expert systems, systems
modeling tools, and microworlds, among
Spreadsheets are flexible Mindtools for representing,
reflecting on, and calculating quantitative
They are especially useful for answering “what if”
questions, for instance, what if interest rates
increased by one percent?
Building spreadsheets requires abstract reasoning by
the user, they are rule-using tools that require that
users become rule-makers.
Spreadsheets also support problem solving activities.
Learners need to consider implications of conditions
or options, which requires entails higher order
Microworlds are exploratory learning environments or
discovery spaces in which learners can navigate,
manipulate or create objects, and test their effects on
Microworlds contain constrained simulations of real-
world phenomena that allow learners to control those
Video-based adventure games are microworlds that
require players to master each environment before
moving onto more complex environments.
The emphasis in many microworlds is the generation
and testing of hypotheses. Eg what happens to my
SimCity town if I introduce another hospital.
3 Information Interpretation
Information interpretation tools help make
information more accessible for learners and
assist them in processing that information.
This category includes search engines,
hypermedia, and weblogs (blogs).
Search engines offer the learner a chance to
gather information in a systematic and logical
manner. The process of determining the
correct search parameters through a series of
refinements is well suited to the assimilation
of thinking skills.
Hypermedia consists of information links that
serve to make information stored in any form
(video, text, image) accessible. A user can
add or change information to create links. In
its entirety, it becomes a dynamic knowledge
The idea is that making this sort of
(instructional) material teaches more than
WARNING: In daily practice the website (the
product) is mostly seen as the goal instead of
as a means of learning (the process),or that
mastering the tools (software used to make
websites) is seen as the ultimate learning
4 Conversation Tools
Conversation tools are appropriate for
learning through discussion. They make use
of communication techniques that are useful
for negotiation, careful consideration of
contributions, and synthesis.
Examples of this type of application are
instant messaging, email, forums or
discussion boards, and blogs
Properly used, these resources can be used
to teach effective argument and reasoning.
5 Visualisation Tools
We take in more information through our visual
modality than any other sensory system, yet we
cannot output ideas visually, except in mental
images and dreams, which cannot be shared
visually except using paint/draw programs.
A new and growing class of visualisation tools are
helping us to visualise by providing us tools that
help us to represent and convey rough
approximations of those mental images.
Examples in education include maths
manipulatives, visuals of chemistry compounds that
can be looked at from any angle and 3D modelling
This maths manipulative
allows you to rotate the
shape through all angles
and will count each edge,
corner and shape as you
click on them while turning
them a different colour so
you know which are
Go to Virtual Maths
software packages such as
GIMP (completely free),
allow you to combine images
to achieve desired effects
and convey emotions.
ICT and Other Thinking Programmes
The activities that ICT is integrated into
should be seen as simply another opportunity
in which these thinking skills can be
Talk to the children or have a display near
the computer about which ‘Habit of Mind’ or
‘Multiple intelligence’ they are developing
through working on an activity. Build this into
your WALT, WILF and TIB
ICT and WALT, WILF and TIB
Just as in any other activity done in the
classroom, children will gain more from
the activity if they understand what they
are learning, why they are learning it and
what they need to achieve. As ICT is
generally taught THROUGH the
curriculum, ICT outcomes can be
integrated with curriulum outcomes.
to use a mindmap to
organise my ideas about the
importance of plants
to add linking phrases
between my concepts by using
the program Cmap
to persevere with my work
appropriate and creative linking of
ideas that demonstrate your
an attractively organised mindmap
that is easy to follow
ask if you need help
working on the mindmap until it is
completed, reworking it as necessary
learning to use mindmaps
effectively helps you to make sense
of information and demonstrates
using a computer mindmap program
makes it easier to reorganise your
mindmap than doing it on paper
to make links between concepts,
you really have to think!!
ICT and Multiple Intelligences
ICT can help to deliver MI resources. ICT is adept at
manipulating sound, images, numbers, words, and
movies and can even model three-dimensional
All of these media types can be combined to hit more
than one intelligence within a single resource or
provide more than one learning resource.
Learners should be able to show their learning in MI
ways. Again, ICT can be of great use. Learners can
record their ideas, explain with a diagram or record a
video of themselves doing something to show they
A “learning portfolio” could be ICT based, holding
written work, spoken work, video, images etc of the
learner demonstrating their understanding.
ICT and Thinking Hats
Again, the use of the hats can be built
into ICT integrated activities. For
Blue hat for storyboarding a film and
thinking clearly about what will be needed
to complete the project.
White hat to think what information you
need from internet research etc
ICT and Thinking Tools
Creative thinking tools such as SCAMPER could be used for evaluating
and modifying websites, photo stories and videos, slideshow
presentations or computer graphics.
Use the SCAMPER technique to come up with ideas on how to
modify and improve this website
S – substitute or switch
C – combine with something else
A – adapt or alter part of it
M – modify a part of it by magnifying or minifying
P – put to some other use
E – eliminate a part of it
R – rearrange a part of it
ICT and Thinking Tools
Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys are another tool that can be built into ICT.
Using the tools in the drawing tool bar, turn these lines into an
object related to the topic ‘Health Eating’
ICT and Habits of Mind
The 16 Habits of Mind (Art Costa) Examples of developing the habits with
ICT could include:
•thinking interdependently while
working on a group webquest or epal
exchange or creating a wiki
•persevering when working to
complete a mindmap that
demonstrates their learning over a term
•metacognition when filling in a blog
reflecting on the ICT activity they have
The list could go on and on!
Jonassen, D., Reeves, T, Hong, N., Harvey, D, & Peters,
K. (1997). Concept mapping as cognitive learning and
assessment tools. Journal of Interactive Learning
Research, 8 (3/4), 289-308.
Jonassen, D.H., Carr, C. & Yueh, H.P. (1998) Computers
as Mindtools for Engaging Learners in Critical Thinking,
Tech Trends, 43(2), pp. 24-32. Also available online at:
Slangen, L.A.M.P. and Sloep, P.B. (2005) Mind tools
contributing to an ICT-rich learning environment for
technology education in primary schools, Int. J.
Cont.Engineering Education and Lifelong Learning, Vol.
15, Nos. 3-6, pp.225-239