Supporting Learning through Metaphorical Representations within Electronic Learning Environments
Over the past fifteen year period, electronic distance learning (e-learning) environments have grown exponentially, while the primary mode of communication within the e-learning environments is textual in nature. Although text-based knowledge acquisition is excellent for many learners and offers the opportunity towards developing basic knowledge components, the enhancement of learning environments and the support towards developing communities of learning through the integration of digital media arts further articulates knowledge, and supports and enhances the learner’s conceptual frameworks of understanding. Engaging the learner through perceptual and cognitive understanding of knowledge through the affective and integral integration of semiotics enhances the learning environment. Further, the integration of appropriate and affective metaphorical representations within e-learning environments offers support for the learners’ ways of conceptualizing knowledge and integrating their understanding of the subject matter within their consistently developing conceptual framework of understanding; as well, metaphorical representations enhance the learner’s abilities related to self-regulation and cognitive load. It is of integral importance that artistic endeavors be integrated throughout the elearning environment, with an eye towards metaphorical representations within the learning environment, yet graphic representations of knowledge and metaphorical representations are merely initial considerations towards scratching the surface. Audio components, video components, instructional gaming opportunities, and similar artistic endeavors clearly support opportunities towards learner’s perception, cognitive realization, conceptual framework of understanding and affective elements that are integral towards supporting the learner. Through the careful integration of metaphorical representations within e-learning environments, the learner is supported through artistic endeavors and realizes the potential for real learning and understanding within e-learning environments.
Keywords: Distance Learning, Web-Based Learning, Web-Enhanced Learning, Communities of Learning, Learning Communities, Metaphorical Representation, Semiotics, Self-Regulation, Cognitive Load, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Communication, Information Chunking, Information Age, Conceptual Age, Knowledge Economy
Dr. Caroline M. Crawford
Associate Professor, Instructional Technology, University of Houston-Clear Lake