Article Critique I (SAMPLE)

NOTE: This is focusing on Distance Education, your article will focus on Public Health

By: Jane Doe

Article: Concept Mapping as a Collaborative Tool for Enhanced Online Learning

Author: Anna Cicognani

Journal: Educational Technology & Society. Volume 3, Number 3.

URL: http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/~anna/papers/ifets_published.pdf

Introduction The objective of the article is to discuss concept mapping as a means of enhancing on-line learning techniques. On-line learning environments are growing in popularity because of the increased availability of technology, and the efficiency in which technology can be used to transfer information. Databases can help in the low-maintenance generation of on-line material. Language can be used as a unifying learning tool, by using it for key words in concept mapping. Concept mapping can help learners link words with concepts, enhancing the various stages of learning.

Overview Cicognani proposes that concept mapping can be used as a learning tool in all stages of learning. Concept mapping is a process by which one uses brainstorming techniques to create a map of keywords that represent a specific concept. Concept mapping results in a visual layout which can make that specific issue clearer to the learner who constructed the map.

Concept mapping can be used to enhance on-line learning. Learners benefit from the connectivity that the on-line situation provides. They collaborate and interact with others who have the same learning goals. Learning can then be seen as a collaborative activity involving the learner and everything surrounding him. In a collaborative situation (e.g. on-line), learners brainstorm to create keywords to identify a concept. By comparing each others ideas, each learner understands more about his own concept map and modifies it to be more thorough. By doing this, learning is enhanced.

Results There was no research performed. In an informal survey that the author conducted after running a course completely on a computer-based environment, she found that a vast majority of students felt that the computer environment facilitated collaboration, but many at the same time preferred face-to-face lectures.

Concept maps are advantageous because they represent information in a map and can link it to useful material in a database. Students need to customize material to meet their own needs.

Class Readings This article is not cited in any of the class readings, nor does it cite any of the class readings.

Analysis The author provides a lot of background for concept mapping and how it can improve education in a collaborative, on-line environment. The author has cited other who remark that concept mapping can aid in the organization of information, and can assist in the comprehension of complex materials. This relates to the framework of cognitive learning, in which there are six stages of learning (Bloom, 1956). Concept mapping occurs to some extent in each of the six stages of learning.

Contributions This article does not make a major contribution to the field of education; however, it provides new insight into the issues concerning the design of Internet learning environments. The article brings to light the points which the instructional designer needs address when designing material for Internet-based learning, such as the kind of content which can be delivered effectively in this medium, the learning stages to be considered, and the various approaches from both the learner’s and teacher’s sides to make the learning experience as effective as possible.

General Critique The author did a rather comprehensive “background study” in which she discussed linguistic views of learning, aspects of on-line learning, and principles of concept mapping. She then expands upon how a concept map can be used as a collaborative tool for learning in groups, such as chat groups on the Internet. She uses examples throughout, and her train of thought is easy to follow.

The only real criticism that I have of the article is that the author did not really do any research on her own on the subject. Unfortunately, this was outside of the scope of her article. She does point out that research on the design of on-line learning environments needs to be done. Specifics about this kind of design and how databases can be integrated into the design are what I was hoping to find in the article. I also would have liked to have seen more concrete examples of the concepts that the author was discussing.

Issues (listed by the author) The author mentions that current research on this subject has only addressed tangential issues with respect to on-line learning techniques. Subjects such as interface design and the translation of educational material to web-compliant formats have not been explored sufficiently. I would propose a more statistical study to evaluate the factors influencing collaborative on-line environments.

Issues (in my opinion) The author mentions that the TCO/IP protocol appears to be the winning technology for the transmission of and sharing of data. I would like to see more research done in these areas, as related to on-line collaboration.

Impact It is unclear exactly how much impact this article has had on the field of on-line learning. A citation analysis did not indicate that this work had been cited.

Conclusion Concept maps provide a means of enhancing the learning process. They help the learner link words to concepts, and help him to synthesize complex subject matter. Due to the nature of the on-line environment, learners tend to collaborate and hence learn from each others concept maps. Concept maps also have the advantage of visually representing an information map and linking it to material in a database. This helps the learner organize the material in a fashion which makes sense for him.