The promise of new ideas and new technology for improving teaching and learning

Cell Biol Educ. Summer 2003;2(2):122-32. doi: 10.1187/cbe.02-11-0059.


There have been enormous advances in our understanding of human learning in the past three decades. There have also been important advances in our understanding of the nature of knowledge and new knowledge creation. These advances, when combined with the explosive development of the Internet and other technologies, permit advances in educational practices at least as important as the invention of the printing press in 1460. We have built on the cognitive learning theory of David Ausubel and various sources of new ideas on epistemology. Our research program has focused on understanding meaningful learning and on developing better methods to achieve such learning and to assess progress in meaningful learning. The concept map tool developed in our program has proved to be highly effective both in promoting meaningful learning and in assessing learning outcomes. Concept mapping strategies are also proving powerful for eliciting, capturing, and archiving knowledge of experts and organizations. New technology for creating concept maps developed at the University of West Florida permits easier and better concept map construction, thus facilitating learning, knowledge capture, and local or distance creation and sharing of structured knowledge, especially when utilized with the Internet. A huge gap exists between what we now know to improve learning and use of knowledge and the practices currently in place in most schools and corporations. There are promising projects in progress that may help to achieve accelerated advances. These include projects in schools at all educational levels, including projects in Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, and the United States, and collaborative projects with corporate organizations and distance learning projects. Results to date have been encouraging and suggest that we may be moving from the lag phase of educational innovation to a phase of exponential growth.

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Multimedia*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychology, Educational / methods
  • Psychology, Educational / trends
  • Students / psychology
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Teaching / trends
  • Thinking