Hypertext Links to Facilitate Memory & Understanding in Education

The subject of hypertext links to facilitate memory and understanding in education is not a new argument and my research of two opposing views, Bra (2000) and Brusilovsky & Pesin (1998) where they discussed “adaptive hypermedia” in the content of hypertext links within publications, were at odds. Bra (2000) quoted Brusilovsky & Pesin (1998)’s results that the use of these techniques in education “leads to better student performance”, yet Bra disagreed stating that the results are “certainly not enough to move a learning process from the classroom to the Web.” The discussion rests on the type of guidance provided in the hypertext links versus that in the classroom. In the classroom environment the structure guides the students in a way relevant to the subject matter, which may of course not be logical when compared to other subjects, whereas hypertext links can also do this but do allow the student to navigate, jump and progress in a way which suits their learning pattern as Brusilovsky and Pesin claim. This however does not take into account many factors regarding the learning process of students and whether they are well guided or not. For instance it is possible for the student to navigate, jump and progress in a way which suits their state of mind, which is not necessarily the same as they way they learn effectively, Bra certainly supports the viewpoint that and gain from such hypertext based learning is “not uniform”.

In my own personal experience I would tend to fall into agreement with Bra for I use a mixture of extremely structured processes while guiding students face to face or in the texts I use and documents I produce, however I also provide many opportunities for students to navigate online material in a manner that suits them. Given that my subjects are largely business, technology and mathematics, a structured logic is often essential to understanding and it is difficult to link around subject matter and achieve the same level of understanding. However I can see from my colleagues’ subjects that this is extremely suitable in other fields such as Psychology or Language. Therefore I have to summaise that it is very dependent on the viewpoint of the student and the guidance required in the subject area. Hypertext links are not for all educational uses, but can be for some.

References

Bra, P (2000) ‘Pros and Cons of Adaptive Hypermedia in Web-Based Education’, CyberPsychology & Behavior, 3, 1, pp. 71-77, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 March 2011.

Brusilovsky, P. and Pesin, L. (1998) Adaptive navigation support in educational hypermedia: An evaluation of the ISIS-Tutor. Journal of Computing and Information Technology 6 (1), 27-38.