AI and Society 25 (1):83-92 (2010)

Technologies are significant in research not only as instruments for gathering data and analyzing information; they also provide a valuable resource for the development of theory—in terms of what has been called the “tools to theory heuristic.” Focusing on the specific example of the fields of educational psychology and instructional technology and design, this paper begins by describing how the workings of the “tools to theory heuristic” are evident in the metaphors and descriptions of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. In each of these psychological paradigms, the mind is understood in terms of a contemporaneous technological innovation: as rudimentary circuitry, as computerized data processing, and finally, in terms of information representation and visualization. The paper then argues that in applied disciplines like educational technology and human–computer interaction, technology plays two important but conflicting roles. It first operates heuristically to explain complex mental phenomena; it is then designed and developed explicitly as a tool for facilitating and developing these same complex mental processes. This paper concludes by arguing that this dual role represents an ethical dilemma—a kind of epistemological and practical “conflict of interest” in instructional technology and in related fields of systems and interface design.
Keywords Psychology  Ethics  Instructional technology  Human–computer interaction  Tools to theory heuristic
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-009-0264-8
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Metaphors of Memory.Douwe Draaisma - 2000 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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