Theorizing Why in e-Learning: A Frontier for Cognitive Engagement

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


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 yetrecognized, or in the very early stages of development. Why is this so? To this question, there is no single satisfactory answer; instead, numerous plausible explanations and related questions arise. After learning something, however, explaining why can be revealing of a person’s understanding (or lack of it). What then differentiates explanation from information; and, explanatory from descriptive content? What ICT scaffolding might support inquiry instigated by whyquestioning? What is the role of reflective practice in inquiry-based learning? These and other questions have emerged from this investigation and underscore that why - questions often propagate further questions and are a catalyst for cognitive engagement and dialogue. This paper reports on a multi-disciplinary, theoretical investigation with a view to informing the broad discourse on e-learning by identifying a specific frontier for design and development of e-learning tools. Probing why reveals that versatile and ambiguous semantics present the core challenge – asking, learning, knowing, understanding, and explaining why.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age
EditorsDemetrios G. Sampson, J. Michael Spector, Dirk Ifenthaler, Pedro Isaías
Place of PublicationMadrid, Spain
PublisherInternational Association for Development of the Information Society Press (IADIS Press)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-989-8533-12-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventIADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 1 Jan 20121 Jan 2012


ConferenceIADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning


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