Asking why is an important foundation of inquiry and fundamental to the development of reasoning skills and learning. Despite this, and despite the relentless and often disruptive nature of innovations in information and communications technology (ICT), sophisticated tools that directly support this basic act of learning appear to be undeveloped, not yet recognized, or in the very early stages of development. Why is this so? To this question, there is no single factual answer. In response, however, plausible explanations and further questions arise, and such responses are shown to be typical consequences of why-questioning. A range of contemporary scenarios are presented to highlight the problem. Consideration of the various inputs into the evolution of digital learning is introduced to provide historical context and this serves to situate further discussion regarding innovation that supports inquiry-based learning. This theme is further contextualized by narratives on openness in education, in which openness is also shown to be an evolving construct. Explanatory and descriptive contents are differentiated in order to scope out the kinds of digital tools that might support inquiry instigated by why-questioning and which move beyond the search paradigm. Probing why from a linguistic perspective reveals versatile and ambiguous semantics. The why dimension—asking, learning, knowing, understanding, and explaining why—is introduced as a construct that highlights challenges and opportunities for ICT innovation. By linking reflective practice and dialogue with cognitive engagement, this chapter points to specific frontiers for the design and development of digital learning tools, frontiers in which inquiry may find new openings for support.
|Title of host publication||Digital Systems for Open Access to Formal and Informal Learning|
|Editors||Demetrios G. Sampson, Dirk Ifenthaler, J. Michael Spector, Pedro Isaias|
|Place of Publication||Switzerland|
|Number of pages||20|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
Mason, J. C. (2014). Theorizing Why in Digital Learning: Opening Frontiers for Inquiry and Innovation with Technology. In D. G. Sampson, D. Ifenthaler, J. M. Spector, & P. Isaias (Eds.), Digital Systems for Open Access to Formal and Informal Learning (pp. 101-120). Springer.