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Technology and Humanistic

Conflicting Conceptions of Curriculum:

Toward an Eclectic-Integrated Orientation


Nelson Dordelly-Rosales

Graduate Student
Educational Communications and Technology

Technology and Humanistic 2

Table of Contents


1. What are the prevailing conflicting conceptions to curriculum?........... 4

1.1. Development of Cognitive processes

1.2. Socialization and/or Social Reconstruction
1.3. Academic/Subject matter
1.4. Technology/Educational Technology
1.5. Humanistic/person centered approach
1.6. An eclectic posture

2. How technology is used with different curriculum conceptions?............ 9

2.1. Technology in the development of cognitive processes

2.2. Technology in social orientation
2.3. Technology in the Academic Curriculum.
2.4. Technology in humanistic education.

3. Technological and humanistic conflicting curriculum conceptions,

common goals? …………………………………………………………. 17

3.1. Technology as a curriculum conception

3.2. Curriculum as a Humanistic conception: Freedom to learn?
3.3. Finding a middle ground: an eclectic posture?
3.4. How technology and humanistic curriculum conceptions
are integrated in the practice? How can the use of technology best support a
curriculum in which students are active and collaborative problem-solvers?
Examples: International Cases

Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………. 29

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This paper deals with three issues that are usually taken for granted in education:
that different conceptions of curriculum are necessary for education to thrive, that
technology is used with different conceptions of curriculum to enhance education, and
that technology and humanistic educational orientations are conflicting conceptions of

This paper proves that notable authors have identified diverse conceptions among
educators’ thought and that technology is used with different curriculum orientations to
enhance education. The prevailing conceptions of curriculum: Humanistic, Social-
Reconstructionist, Technology, and the Academic orientation have undergone a
significant evolution, and additional curriculum orientations have emerged (i.e., the
development of cognitive processes, and the eclectic posture). The curriculum decision-
making process must necessarily be multifaceted using technology in different ways. The
integration of different curriculum conceptions has been successfully developed in
education among outstanding institutions of different countries.

This paper has three general purposes. One is to examine the prevailing conflicting
orientations to curriculum. The second purpose is to analyze how technology is used with
different curriculum orientations. A third purpose is to demonstrate, through practical
examples, that integrating technology and the humanistic curriculum conception has been
possible, and successfully developed in the light of a constructivist tendency.

Thus, the examination of contemporary frames of looking at curriculum and

technology, and the analysis of an eclectic posture – mainly through the integration of the
technology and the humanistic conceptions of curriculum - sparked this investigation into
the available literature, and into some of the available practical cases (theory application)
in different institutions (uses of technology for educational problem solving purposes).
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1. What are the prevailing conflicting orientations of curriculum?

Historically, different scholars have identified a broad range of very different

approaches to questions persistently asked in education: What can and should be taught

to whom, when, and how? (Bobbit 1928) and what goals, how to organize learning

experiences, how to evaluate the student? (Tyler 1949). Every curriculum represents a

choice as to how to approach the education of students (Taba, 1962).

In the history of curriculum as a field of study (Short, 1991), the scholars have

examined different conceptions and have attempted to build taxonomies to describe their

academic efforts. According to Eisner & Vallance (1974), Posner (2004) and McNeil

(1985, 2006), among others, there are conflicting curriculum conceptions that teachers

should examine before getting involved in educational endeavors. It is assumed that every

educator working at some level of education has a curriculum orientation and that every

curriculum orientation is grounded in personal and cultural (practical and theoretical)

knowledge and a wealth of experiences. Each orientation shows how educators perceive

situations or phenomena, filtered through sets of interacting values and beliefs,

influencing how they respond to matters of schooling. These curriculum mind-sets or

forms of thought that each teacher brings to the educational process influence how that

teacher regards the use of technology.

Eisner & Vallance (1974) said that “controversy in educational discourse most

often reflects a basic conflict in priorities concerning the form and content of curriculum

and the goals toward which schools should strive; the intensity of the conflict and the

apparent difficulty in resolving it can most often be traced to a failure to recognize

conflicting conceptions of curriculum” (p.2). These authors, rather than presenting only
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one prescription or only one way of thinking, they present five curriculum conceptions:

(1) Curriculum as the Development of Cognitive Processes (the curriculum seeks to

develop a repertoire of cognitive skills and forms of thought that are applicable to a wide

range of intellectual problems). (2) Technology (it is preoccupied with the development

of means to achieve pre-specified ends; the educator or educational technologist is to

bring the system under control so that goal it seeks to attain can be achieved). (3) Self-

actualization (or Curriculum as Consummatory Experience in which schooling is to

become a mean of personal fulfillment, to provide a context in which individuals discover

and develop unique identities). (4) Curriculum for Social Reconstruction-Relevance

(curriculum is conceived to be an active force having direct impact on the fabric of its

human and social context). (5) Curriculum as Academic Rationalism (the major goal of

academic rationalists is to enable students to use and appreciate the ideas and works that

constitute the various intellectual and artistic disciplines).

More recently, Posner (2004) identified and analyzed the following curriculum

conceptions: (1) Traditional (the purpose of education is to transmit the cultural

heritage). (2) Experiential (development/healthy growth of the individual is the primary

purpose of education). (3) Structure-of-the-disciplines (the primary purpose of education

is the development of the intellect and the disciplines of knowledge constitute the

content best suited to this purpose; subject matter should represent domains of

disciplined and systematic inquiry). (4) Behavioral (the content of the curriculum

comprises a set of skills described by statements specifying observable and measurable

behaviors, termed “behavioral” or “performance” objectives). (5) The Constructivist: the

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development of the mind is the central purpose of education; that is, people should learn

how to make sense of the world and to think more productively and creatively.

McNeil (1985, 2006) identified and analyzed four prevailing conceptions of

curriculum: (1) The humanistic (the goals of education are dynamic personal processes

related to the ideals of self-actualization, personal growth, integrity, and autonomy). (2)

The social- reconstructionist (the goal of education is to develop the social, political, and

economic spheres of society; the curriculum should challenge the social order; learners

should understand how the curriculum is used to consolidate power and to define

society). (3) The technology (in 2006 McNeil changed this conception for the systemic

conception). This perspective focuses on the effectiveness of programs, methods, and

materials in the achievement of specified ends or purposes. To this author, one premise of

systemic curriculum is that the major components of an education system must work

together to guide the process of helping students achieve higher levels of understanding:

If system components are not aligned, the system will be fragmented, will send mixed

messages, and will be less effective. (4) The academic (the nucleus of knowledge and the

chief content or subject matter of instruction are academic subjects such as, language and

literature, mathematics, the natural sciences, history, social sciences, and arts).

From the psychological point of view, many authors emphasize in the development

of cognitive processes as educational orientation. Driscoll (1994), for example, in her

book analyzes how to develop cognition from different learning and instructional

approaches (behaviorism, cognitive information processing, the schema theory and

mental models, genetic epistemology, interactional theories, the constructivism, among

others). This author explains that these are different theories that represent choices as to
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how to approach the education of students, and that these theories are “provisional and

limited in their views of learning.” Thus, evaluating various conceptions ultimately

becomes a matter of developing a personal theory of learning and instruction.

From the works of Eisner and Vallance in 1974 to the works of Posner in 2004,

Driscoll (1994), and McNeil in 1985-2006, different philosophical approaches to

curriculum and instruction prevail among educators’ thought (Matrix #1).

Matrix # 1 Conflicting curriculum conceptions

Eisner & Academic Development Social Self-

Vallance Rationalism Technology of Cognitive Reconstruction Actualization/
(1974) Processes Relevance Consummatory

Posner Structure of Behavioral Constructivist Traditional Experiential

(2004) the disciplines

McNeil Academic Technology/ -------- Social Humanistic

(1985-2006) Subject Systemic Reconstruction

Driscoll (1994) Theories

Conflicting curriculum conceptions presuppose diversity; however these

conceptions do not necessarily exhaust the ways in which educational positions can be

characterized or identified. An eclectic posture which integrates these positions,

especially the technology and the humanistic approaches has been an alternative: A

personal conception is necessary in education with the expectation that it should serve as

an improved guide to innovative curricular and instructional practices.

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The eclectic or an integrate posture

The foregoing characterization of the prevailing curriculum orientations has

undergone a significant evolution in the last years and an eclectic posture or integration

seems interesting and worth doing. Why? Because curriculum is an interpretive term –

because it has many meanings that are not anchored in any specific philosophical

doctrine – the decision-making process must necessarily be multifaceted. The eclectic

conception, in the light of a constructivist perspective, emerges as another curriculum

perspective that integrates different assumptions (focused on how to make students more

active and collaborative problem-solvers, and how to think more productively and

creatively). In “Curriculum Wisdom,” James Henderson and Kathleen Kesson (2004)

invite the educators on a journey of considerate reflection about an integrated curriculum

for “wisdom.” The inherent purpose of curriculum decision making is to create for

teachers and students a learning environment that embodies what the authors identify as

the “democratic good life” (p.12). After briefly examining the current condition of U.S.

curriculum and curriculum-decision making, they offer a constructive alternate

curriculum decision-making framework from what they identify as a “wisdom”

orientation (students as active and collaborative problem-solvers). They ground their

work and the wisdom orientation in three foundational assumptions:

To consider the “good conduct” and “enduring values” implications and consequences of
their decision; to think about the relationship between educational means and ends; and to
engage in sophisticated practical reasoning (Henderson and Kesson, 2004, p. ix).

Further expanding on the definition of curriculum wisdom, Henderson and Kesson

offer for their readers the “5C’s of wise curriculum judgments: compassion,

collaboration, character, challenge, and calling” (p. 12). It is through these 5C’s that

curriculum decision makers can remain focused on securing the democratic good life for
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themselves and their students. They encourage curriculum decision-makers to rise to the

considerable challenge of maintaining reflective self-awareness while thoughtfully and

compassionately working together with diverse others. Through their explanation of the

5Cs, the authors provide for the reader a more clearly articulated examination of the

multifaceted curriculum wisdom approach from an experiential point of view.

2. How technology is used with different curriculum orientations?

Educational Communications and Technology is one of the fastest growing areas in

education. Technology has entered people’s daily personal and professional live through

word processing, e-mail, online libraries, video, DVD-CD’s multimedia, and the Web,

among many others. Technology has been successfully used to achieve the goals of

education; however, teachers have diverse ideas about how technology should be used in

teaching and learning. McNeil (1985, 2006) identified four different conflictive

conceptions: Technology in Humanistic Classrooms, Social Reconstruction and

Technology, Technology in a Systemic Curriculum, and Technology in the Academic

Curriculum. A fifth conception: the Technology in the Development of Cognitive

processes is also examined in this paper.

2.1 Technology in the development of cognitive processes

Researchers, psychologists and technologists provide a framework for reasoning

about the most developmentally-appropriate uses of technology for developing cognitive

processes of people at different ages. Technology as the development of cognitive

processes is about the mechanisms by which people process information; thus,

instructional design and technology are closely interlocked for educational purposes
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(Driscoll, 1994). Bloom (1956) explains three basic processes: cognitive, affective and

psychomotor, and as an example of how technology is used to develop these learning

processes, Magoulas (2006) in Brazil has developed the “Modeling Learner’s Cognitive

abilities in the context of a Web-Based Learning Environment” based on the behaviorist

theory and the Bloom’s taxonomy. This case is concerned with making the instruction

suitable to the individual learner’s characteristics. The researcher proved that technology

is used to automate the learners’ Cognitive Ability Level (CAEL) diagnostic based on the

observation and analysis of his/her behavior in a Web-learning environment.

Gagne and Briggs (1979) suggested that learning tasks for intellectual skills can be

organized in a hierarchy according to complexity: stimulus recognition, response

generation, procedure following, use of terminology, discriminations, concept formation,

rule application, and problem solving. The primary significance of the hierarchy is to

identify prerequisites that should be completed to facilitate learning at each level. In

addition, Gagne and Briggs’ theory outlines nine instructional events and corresponding

cognitive processes:

(1) gaining attention (reception)

(2) informing learners of the objective (expectancy)
(3) stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval)
(4) presenting the stimulus (selective perception)
(5) providing learning guidance (semantic encoding)
(6) eliciting performance (responding)
(7) providing feedback (reinforcement)
(8) assessing performance (retrieval)
(9) enhancing retention and transfer (generalization).

To Gagne and Briggs (1979), these events should satisfy or provide the necessary

conditions for learning and serve as the basis for designing instruction and selecting

appropriate media (computer software, multimedia shareware, TV, world wide websites,
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etc). The following Graphic # 2 shows examples of software designed to help the

students in their learning processes. Educational Technology then it is defined as the use

of accumulated knowledge to process resources to meet human needs and improve the

quality of life (Gendron, 1977). Technology is also defined as an instrument (specific

software products embedded by a learning psychological theory) in helping the students

to develop their cognitive processes.

Graphic # 2

Technological Support in concordance with a learning Theory

Learning Theory
Stimulus/Response Theory
“Welcome to Events of Instruction
Physics” (Robert Gagne)
Zone of Proximal Development
“Study Works”
(Lev Vygotsky)
“Decisions! Democratic Principles in Education
Decisions!” (John Dewey)
Discovery Learning
“Operation Frog”
(Jerome Bruner)
“Science Toolkit:
Constructivist Theory
(Jean Piaget )
Source: Conway, 1997

These are many ways that educational technology is supporting specific

techniques of teaching and learning. Thanks to this support, educators are able to

accomplish behavioral and cognitive goals in ways they never could before (Bruer,

1993). Technology itself helps to generates new problem-solving and representational

tools, a demand for new methodologies that embrace both cognitive and humanistic

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2.2. Technology in Socialization/Social-Reconstruction conception

The benefits of using technology in socialization and social-reconstruction

processes are recognized by many educators. Educators and students are building their

own social capital through technology, creating communities of learning and developing

instructional designs. Teachers and students are all using technology to varying extents.

In this sense, Panitz (2001) has listed distinct benefits of using technology in socialization

– academic, social, and psychological – that can be expected from the use of groups.

These include such factors as building self-esteem, reducing anxiety, encouraging

understanding of diversity, fostering relationships and stimulating critical thinking.

Diverse school organizations and universities that strive for high social capital are

using technology for cultural fit, lasting relationships, and collaboration. Many cases of

successfully utilizing collaborative techniques within an online environment have been

reported in the literature. Roberts in his book “Online Collaborative Learning,” analyzes

diverse cases, among them, the case “An Intuitive Approach to Virtual Learning

Environment” which describes flexible e-learning and add intuitive features for

facilitating “freedom to learn” (2004, p.7) in different institutions.

The Syracuse University’s experience described by the researchers Hurd and Stein

(2004) in their recent book “Building and Sustaining Learning Communities” is another

excellent example in which technology is used with different approaches for socialization

and social-reconstruction: creating an online learning community, leading the change, the

management learning community: a lesson in innovation, a lesson in citizenship, inter-

professional learning community, strategies for building learning community

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relationships, among others. In this case, the researchers have demonstrated that social

involvement is a key to students’ success: The educational learning community creates a

supportive environment in which students learn to love and work cooperatively,

developing the academic and social skills necessary to achieve their goals. As part of

their learning community experience, “the students provide significant community

service working with students at a public system at Syracuse” (p. 5) The Syracuse

University’s efforts to expand learning communities are one important way in which the

professors seek to build a wide variety of educational opportunities and all students

become actively involved in learning.

The University of Saskatchewan’s experience also has been interesting. Recently,

some students of the Communications and Technology program discussed in a round

table, the issue of how technology helps to develop social capital in education, how they

can through educational technology come to know and trust one another, and become

agents of social change to improve or enhance their own communities? Analyzing the

answers to these questions, as a graduate student of this program I was able to expand my

own conceptions. Diverse curriculum frameworks are required to enable all students to

achieve their maximum potential literacy and, to create their own knowledge, to develop

in directions unique to their own needs, interests, abilities, and perspectives; that is, to

become self-actualized (Eisner, 1994). Learning is an active, social process in which

students constructs new ideas or concepts based on current knowledge. In this version of

constructivist theory, the learner “selects and transforms information, constructs

hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so” (Bruner,

1996, p.30). This latter goal is, in part, achieved through apprenticeship education or
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through a variety of courses, using technology with different curriculum conceptions. In

this way, the students acquire a measure of scientific and technological connoisseurship

or expertise that enable them to conduct open-ended scientific investigations, to establish

a red of social interaction, and to pursue some invention projects based on their needs and

of their own communities.

2.3. Technology in the Academic Curriculum

Technology influences curriculum in theory and in application. The theory -

learning theory and the subject matter (the disciplines) - guides the development and

evaluation of curriculum materials and instructional systems. The application results in

different plans for the systematic use of various devices and media or a designed

sequence of instruction based on principles from behavioral sciences. Some examples of

this applied technology are: Computer assisted instruction, systems approaches using

objectives, programmed materials tutors following scripts aimed at teaching a specific

skill, and criterion-referenced tests.

The use of technology in the academic curriculum focuses on what to teach and how

to help teachers with the purpose of transmitting the culture and the academic subject

matter to the students: how to better transmit the professional body of knowledge to the

students? In this sense, Tyler (1949) has explained his “technology” for curriculum and

instructional planning. According to him, if teachers were able to know and to use

curriculum planning processes which are compatible with the goals they choose to

implement, then the congruence between the goals and practices of technology education

should improve. McNeil (1985) explains that technologists studying instructional

variables and procedures have gained great influence over the kinds of factors used in
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both judging and developing learning opportunities. Technology can make the practice

and drill activities associated with the academic rationalism conception more effective:

The technology can tutor, but the teacher still serves as the expert to clarify subject matter

and to extend ideas through follow-up discussions and seminars” (White & Purdom, p.

Summary, n.d.).

The use of technology in the academic curriculum is seen as “any systematized

practical knowledge, based on experimentation and/or scientific theory, which enhances

the capacity of society to produce goods and services, and which is embodied in

productive skills, organization, or machinery” (Gendron, 1977, p.23). An example of this

is the project of Graz University in Austria “Virtual Medical Campus (VMC)” by

Motschnig-Pitrick and Holzinger (2002). The purpose is to use technology as a content

oriented project (based on subject matter/disciplines of knowledge). The technology

section (e-learning) creates an infrastructure for the digital representation of the new

curriculum and thus, represents the prerequisite for the second section, content. The

general goal is the realization of the digital representation of the new curricula for human

and dental medicine of the Medical Faculty.

2.4. Technology in Humanistic Education

To speak of technology and humanistic education in the same phrase may seem for

some people paradoxical. The question is: Are indeed educational technology and

humanistic education conflicting Orientations of Curriculum? The technology and the

humanistic perspectives are far from being a paradox; they are in fact intimately

connected. Bruce and Dodson’s answer is motivating; “the intimate intertwining of

technology and human spirit manifests itself in a variety of ways…Technology’s

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amplification of our powers of reflection, imagination, and creation lead inevitably to

issues surrounding dimensions of humanity that are thought to be (and vociferously

argued to be) fundamental and stable” (2001, p.1). These humanistic professionals, in

fact, regard these issues as of the nature of being human. According to them, this issue

provides a framework for reasoning about the most developmentally-appropriate uses of

technology for people at different ages and the design of various educational technologies

(computer software, multimedia shareware, TV, World Wide Web sites, etc.) from the

perspective of basic research and theory in human cognitive and social development.

Developments of the latter decades of the last century and emerging issues of the

new millennium make it imperative that educators consider technology in humanistic

education together and explore how they are related (Francis, 2001). In fact, technology

includes a wide range of human activities and can be seen as distinctly human in that it

makes full and direct use of some of our most powerful human faculties. Rogers (1983),

the author of “Freedom to Learn” and a leading scholar in the humanistic curriculum

orientation, is well known as a pioneer in using most recent technology as a tool for

learning and for research. His recorded interviews and sessions have become world-

famous. The employment of new technology in humanistic education can be seen to

follow the spirit of Rogers and thus, appears particularly worthwhile and legitimate from

a cultural viewpoint.

Recently scholars of the University of Montreal in Canada were able to combine

different perspectives in “Dominant Meaning Approach towards Individualized Web

Search for Learning Environments” (Magoulas, 2006). This case deals with a new

technique, called dominant meanings, and shows how it can be used to make
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individualized a query and search result. The main goal is to adapt information to the

particular needs of individual learners. According to the researcher, to meet the students’

needs educators must enrich their knowledge bases with information from a variety of


Consequently, it is important for humanistic professionals to consider and to analyze

technology in depth the ways they affect students’ being. Underlying this issue is a belief

that technology is a general and knowable system and the issue, freedom to learn, implies

the convergence of all humanistic principles which guide educational technology built on

intellectual curiosity, on the power of critical thought, and on certain optimism about how

the technique and the human are integrated and mutually self supporting.

3. Technological and Humanistic/Freedom to Learn: conflicting curriculum

orientations, common goals?

Historically, scholars have identified different conflicting curriculum conceptions

and they have considered that “Technology” and “Humanist” are antagonist positions.

The situation has changed today: technology is used with different conceptions to

enhance education; technology and humanistic conceptions are integrated to achieve

common educational goals. Educators are considering these orientations as

complementary and they integrate curriculum for “wisdom” using technology that best

support the students as active and collaborative problem-solvers. Technology has been a

response of many human needs. The advances in this sense have made it possible to reach

out to a wider audience around the globe.

Technology and Humanistic 18

3.1. Technology as a curriculum conception

Technology as a curriculum perspective focuses on the how to achieve the goals of

education and on how to reach effectiveness of programs, methods, and materials.

Through technology in the form of computer-web based instruction, individualized

learning systems, e-learning, modules, video, CD-DVD, e-books, etc., knowledge is

communicated and learning is facilitated.

The technological orientation of curriculum is concerned with the technology by

which knowledge is communicated and “learning” is facilitated. Tyler’s rationale

explains the process of how to develop the educational process: according to him it

involves using data about the learners themselves, their society, and subject-area experts

to develop the purposes which the school should seek to attain. Next, a selection of

educational experiences is selected based on their likelihood of attaining the educational

goals. After they are selected, they are organized in a logical manner, hoping to be

obtaining the maximum cumulative effect. The curriculum is then improved and refined

by a process of evaluation. Technology in this sense is educational engineering; it

conceptualizes the function of curriculum as essentially one of finding efficient means to

a set of educational predefined ends (Tyler, 1949). Thus, curriculum development is

viewed as a planned cycle, as a technological process. Thus educational technology is the

development of a set of systematic techniques, and accompanying practical knowledge,

for designing, testing, and operating schools as educational systems (Eisner and Vallance,

1974). The focus is on the more practical problem of efficiently packaging and presenting

the material to the learner.

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In this sense, the job of the educational technologists is to become helpful to

students in the analysis of curriculum problems as well as for the creation,

implementation, evaluation, and management of instructional solutions by using

appropriate hardware and software. As a process approach, curriculum technology

interconnects with the cognitive processes orientation in its focus of attention. The

purpose is to facilitate learning.

3.2. Curriculum as a humanistic process: Freedom to Learn?

The humanistic, or Student-Centered approach, is based on the hypothesis that

students who are given the freedom to learn, freedom to explore areas based on their

personal interests, and who are accompanied in their striving for solutions by a

supportive, understanding facilitator, not only achieve higher academic results, but also

experience an increase in personal values, such as flexibility, self-confidence and social

skills (Rogers, 1983). This approach, also known as experiential learning, requires

specific personal attitudes on the side of the instructor who takes over the role of a

facilitator; these attitudes are highly transparent, open communication, positive regard

towards students and the seeking for deep understanding (Rogers, 1983). This orientation

is related to the experiential and the constructivist in which the focus is on answering the

questions: “What experiences will lead to the healthy growth of the individual? And How

can people learn to make sense of the world and to think more productively and

creatively” (Posner, 2004, p.45). Educators within this orientation are person centered,

autonomy and growth oriented (Eisner and Vallance, 1974), and the function of the

curriculum is “to provide personally satisfying consummatory experiences for each

individual learner” (p.106). Thus, the question is, how can the use of technology best
Technology and Humanistic 20

support a constructivist curriculum in which students as active and collaborative

problem-solvers?). Education is seen as an enabling process that would provide the

means to personal liberation, integration and development.

Hewit (2006) explains that emphasis of a humanistic curriculum orientation is on

the personal development; the work of educators is to essentially fit the curriculum to the

students’ needs and interests as they mature. The focus of the humanistic curriculum is on

the “capabilities of the student to develop thinking (in the critical sense of it)” (p.116).

Unlike the cognitive process or curriculum technology approaches, the humanistic

orientation conceptualizes education as a liberating force; the means of helping the

individual discover things for himself/herself. Within this orientation, personal content

and enriching experience is a major focus of concern. It emphasizes personal growth, but

the development of personal integrity and autonomy is seen as problematic in the face of

broader social pressures to the contrary - it is social-reconstructionist in a very

personalized sense (McNeil, 2006).

Sagor (1993) has identified five central feelings that are crucial to an individual’s

emotional well-being: these are the need to feel competent, the need to feel that they

belong, the need to feel useful, the need to feel potent, and the need to feel optimistic.

These five feelings (competence, belonging, usefulness, potency, and optimism), should

be considered in instructional design engineering.

Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs is an important contribution for developing a

humanistic curriculum; educators must take in to account ways to help, advice or

facilitate learning in the following areas: Self Actualization Needs (full potential morality,

creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts), Ego

Technology and Humanistic 21

Needs (self respect, personal worth, autonomy, self esteem, confidence achievement,

respect of others, respect for others), Social Needs (love, friendship, comradeship, sexual

intimacy), Security Needs (protection from danger, security of body, of resources, of

employment, of the family, of the health, of property), as well as Physiological Needs

(warmth, shelter, food, breathing, water, sleep, sex, homeostasis, excretions). Thus,

curriculum makers in the humanistic orientation should deal with these needs and should

facilitate the means and ways for the students to achieve their goals within a “freedom to

learn” environment.

3.3. Finding a middle ground: toward an eclectic posture?

Each curriculum orientation offers a coherent view of the “what” and/or the “how”

of education. Because curriculum is an interpretive term – because it has many meanings

that are not anchored in any specific philosophical doctrine – the decision-making

process must necessarily be multifaceted (Henderson and Kesson, 2004). An eclectic,

integrated or constructivist curriculum seems necessary to achieve different goals in


As Schwab (1978) has pointed out, curricula based on a single orientation have

limitations due to the diversity of thoughts and actions of people involved in the process

of education. In order to repair possible limitations of each orientation, this author offers

the “eclectic” as an approach to curriculum. In order to avoid the tunnel vision associated

with any specific orientation, he calls for plurality. He challenges any curriculum to be

plural in order to address each of what he calls the four places of education, i.e., the

learner, the teacher, the subject matter, and the milieu or context (social and institutional).
Technology and Humanistic 22

In this sense, the book “Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice by

Roberts (2004) examines several cases based on plurality of thought: (1) “Supporting

Collaborative Project Teams Using Computer-Based Technologies at the University of

Wollongong” (in which successful and challenges experienced by students working in an

online collaborative learning environment offer many insights for improving education).

(2) The “computer-Mediated Progressive Inquiry in Higher Education” by Hanni

Muukkonen and others (in which three metaphors of learning –acquisition, participation

and knowledge creation – together constitute a broad base for envisioning the future

skills and competencies to be developed by higher education), and (3) “Moderating

Learner-Centered E-Learning: problems and solutions” by Curtis J. Bonk & others

(suggesting that traditional teaching ability is likely to have to be redefined to include

social, technical, pedagogical and managerial skills).

The book “Designing for Change in Networked Learning Environments,

Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative

Learning”, (2003) edited by Barbara Wasson and others, addresses the reciprocal

relationship between technology and human learning. According to the editors of this

book, information and communication technologies, as designed artifacts, encompass

knowledge and perspectives on human activity and over time, these artifacts play an

important role in human evolution and cultural development. For these scholars,

understandings of learning from behaviorism, cognitivism, the knowledge building

perspective, the humanistic and the socio-cultural perspective, emphasize change as the

main phenomena. The uniqueness of their interdisciplinary approach is characterized by

its double-edged focus: as a mediator for change, and the focus on understanding learning
Technology and Humanistic 23

change over time. Among the issues discussed by the researchers in this book are:

“designing and analyzing group interaction,” “collaboration in distance learning,”

“collaborative learning in specific domains,” or “design of collaborative multimedia and

democratic environments.” The contributions of this book aim at improving the quality of

learning and interaction in a democratic environment.

How Technology and Humanistic Curriculum Orientations are integrated in the


Diverse cases from different countries have proven how conflicting orientations to

curriculum have been successfully integrated. The use of Technology has supported in

different ways a curriculum in which students are active and collaborative problem-

solvers. The projects and initiatives selected for this paper are intended to be only a few

examples of efforts taking form in some countries around the globe.

In Canada, for instance, two excellent websites show two Canadian Museums

which stand for different aspects of Canadian life using technology and humanistic

issues. The first website (The McCord Museum, ) tends

to be more comprehensive which contains various fields of Canadian life through history-

from celebrities to learning; from fashion to disease, etc. While the second website

( focuses on one aspect of

Canadian history-Science, and it provides a live exhibition of the development of science

and technology through various knowledge and interesting activities. Thanks to the

power of the World Wide Web, and the prevalence of English and French as international

on-line languages, the Museums are important resources available.

Technology and Humanistic 24

In the United States of America, two excellent web sites, similar to the above, were

recently developed: “The IEEE Virtual Museum: History Center Using Web-based

Education and a Humanistic approach to Promote Engineering at the K-12 Level”

developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE,

international organization) an organizational unit co-sponsored and housed by Rutgers,

the State University of New Jersey, and the ScienCentral, Inc., of New York. The

structure of the IEEE Virtual Museum integrates technology and humanistic approaches

for instructional purposes to promote Engineering at the K-12 Level and for an

international audience of pre-college students. The IEEE Virtual Museum

( uses the history of science and technology to

bridge the gap between these two disciplines at the pre-college level. The IEEE has

chosen the World Wide Web as its medium because of its potential to reach the largest

number of educators and their students worldwide. In this way, science and technology

teachers learn how to bring the humanities into their classrooms, while humanities

teachers learn to integrate science and technology into theirs.


In Austria, integrating technology and humanistic curriculum orientations has been

successful with the new curriculum of the engineering faculty at the University of Vienna

( “The Student-Centered E-Learning (SCeL)” developed by the

researchers Motschnig-Pitrik and Holzinger (2002) involves advanced courses and web

design. The purpose has been to assess the relevance of combining Student-Centered

Teaching(S-C) as developed by the humanist Rogers (1969), with the use of the Internet

(E-Learning) as a medium for supporting communication. This case brings together

Technology and Humanistic 25

Student-Centered Teaching and New Media (any digital media objects that include

interactivity and are digitally distributed) in order to ensure effectiveness while equipping

teaching and learning with more and life-long personal meaning. According to the

researchers, there exists empirical evidence proving that students who are given the

freedom to explore areas based on their personal interests, and who are accompanied in

their learning by a supportive, understanding facilitator, not only achieve superior

academic results but also develop socially and grow personally.

This case proves that the integrative “Student-Centered Teaching” approach is

more demanding in terms of communication, organization, as well as the provision of

learning material. In this process, the facilitator (or the teacher) plays and important role

and s/he requires qualifications and social skills being very different from those needed

for conventional teaching. Due to the fact that the Internet opens up vast knowledge and

communication sources, this integrative approach largely frees the “instructor” from

acting as a pure knowledge transmitter, and it thus provides room for personal and group

processes in the presence phases. This case thereby optimally supports Student-Centered

Teaching, being directed towards learning as a whole person including intellect as well

as feelings, also known as experiential learning. “[I]n fact, all course participants

unanimously appreciated the convenient access to their shared documents, allowing them

to coordinate their cooperative project work between the presence phases and use the

latter for discussion, presentation, feedback, etc.,” (Motschnig-Pitrik and Holzinger (2002

p.1). Thus, students are able to share documents freely on the web such as to stay up to

date in their cooperative work. The experience of integrating curriculum orientations has

been so successful that researchers Motschnig-Pitrik and Holzinger (2002) have also
Technology and Humanistic 26

intended to develop and start to pursue strategies for introducing SCeL in other courses at

the department of computer science, medicine and business informatics as well as the

department of psychology at the University of Vienna. Thus, the basic idea underlying

this paradigm is to combine Student-Centered Teaching with eLearning in order to

exploit the advantages of the two approaches to achieve as deeper learning processes,

personal growth, social skills, and a higher degree of flexibility. The humanistic person-

centered approach proposed by the American scholar Carl Rogers (1902 – 1983) inspired

this interdisciplinary orientation used in the Vienna’s University curriculum.

The key according to Rogers for integrating both approaches is the role of a good

coach who needs skills to pose good questions, activate students, mediate discussions,

visualize the results of group processes, act according to the group's feeling or thinking

about a situation, and transparently shift between his/her multiple roles and

responsibilities. That is, integration works perfectly in practice by using criteria on

Student-Centered Teaching, but perhaps most important is that the facilitator or coach

holds and communicate the three attitudinal conditions, namely realness, acceptance, and

understanding. In that respect, a particular personality structure is required that needs to

match the personal attitudes and values of the facilitator (Rogers, 1983). Facilitators who

feel comfortable with the required attitudinal conditions/interpersonal values, and enjoy

reading material complemented by “training” in the form of encounter groups/workshops,

make the humanistic approach more effective.

Recently, Ghaoui (2004) from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, has

published a book “E-Education Applications: Human Factors and Innovative

Approaches” in which she presents fourteen different real cases of integrating the
Technology and Humanistic 27

humanistic and technological/constructivist orientations in education in several countries:

Germany, France, the UK, Japan, Australia, USA, Canada, Poland, Greece, Turkey, and

Portugal. The author highlights the importance of E-education (also known as online – or

e-learning), its human factors and innovative approaches “to promote the continuous

need to push for technology which serve people, instead on the other way around”

(Gahoui, 2004, p.viii). Motivated by this challenge, her book aims to emphasize the need

to take multidisciplinary and/or inter-disciplinary views on this issue, by marrying

solutions from human computer interaction (HCI) research and principles, education,

artificial intelligence, interactive multimedia technology, etc., to benefit innovation.

The practical cases analyzed by this author highlight the human factors, the

innovation, and the inter-disciplinary orientation applied in the practice with diverse uses

of technology (focused on e-learning). Among these cases are the following: (1.) “An

Expert-Based Evaluation Concerning Human Factors in Open and Distance Learning

(ODL) programs.” This case presents a holistic evaluation approach to ODL, taking into

account human computer interaction and human factors, especially principles on

collaboration and distributed cognition. (2.) “Engineering of a Virtual Community

Platform: Realizing of a Social ware with integration of the User as Editor’s concept.”

This case demonstrates that different information services are integrated with components

for collaboration and personalization into an open user adaptive scientific portal. (3.)

“Model Driven Approach for Synchronous Dynamic Collaborative E-Learning.” This

case shows a humanistic model involving three user groups: teachers, students and

Technology and Humanistic 28

Most recently, in 2006, the book “Advances in Web-Based Education.

Personalized Learning Environments” written by Magoulas and Chen (2006) from

University of London and Brunel University in UK, presents different cases of

integrating humanistic and technology approaches in education (with a constructivist

orientation). The cases discussed in this book are from UK, Brazil, Egypt, Canada,

Portugal Australia, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore

and Denmark. The authors assure that Web-Based education has influenced educational

practice, fostered initiatives to widen participation, increased learner autonomy, and

facilitated informal and workplace learning. In this context, learning takes place

progressively by making students actively participate in instructional decisions and

supporting them individually to assess their personal learning goals.

Finally, at the University of Saskatchewan, an interdisciplinary-constructivist

curriculum in Communications and Technology is developed to facilitate learning and

personal-professional growth through online courses. Technology is used to help the

students to achieve high level of commitment through a culture of trust, respect,

generosity, and recognition of the importance of people's personal lives. Curriculum

relies on collaborative brainstorming, research, commitment and self actualization. The

strategies have tended to rely on learner-learner interaction, with students working

asynchronously in group and with minimal traditional instructions being provided by the

course facilitators. This has been achieved because of the benefits of relationship and

membership as well as the expertise of the professors.

Technology and Humanistic 29


The conflicting curriculum conceptions (focused on cognitive, technology,

humanistic, social, and academic matters) identified by notable scholars do not

necessarily exhaust the ways in which educational positions can be characterized. An

eclectic posture, a wisdom curriculum orientation, integrating technology and humanistic

conceptions, becomes necessary to approach the goals, contents, strategies and forms of

evaluation in an constructivist way. These conceptions comprise in the reality a whole.

Although they require different teaching methods and different uses of technology, they

all have common goals: they interlock closely and integrate extensively to help the

students to fulfill their needs and to be engaged in a learning process. The decision-

making process must necessarily be multifaceted.

Thus, educational technologists should provide diversity in the practice, according

to the needs of the students. They should be prepared to think more productively and

creatively engaging the students as active and collaborative problem-solve, and

providing some freedom to learn. They should use the technology that best supports a

wisdom curriculum so that students learn to make sense of the world more productively

and creatively with a common goal: securing the democratic good life for themselves and

their students. This integrated posture encourages decision makers, teachers and students

to rise to the considerable challenge of maintaining reflective self-awareness, while

thoughtfully and compassionately working together with diverse others.

Finally, with respect to the practical cases from different countries, the increasing

desire of prospective students to undertake programs and courses via Internet and access

online demonstrates that the complexity of mutual interaction between the learners as
Technology and Humanistic 30

human beings and knowledge through technology is one of the things that make

educational research so challenging. This is something that motivates further research,

innovation and creativity.


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