2012. Vol.3, No.8, 1301-1306
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.38190
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1301
Indexed Learning: Protagoras’s Computer
Eduardo Dopico1*, Maite Fernández-Urquiza2
1Department of Education Sciences, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
2Department of Philology, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain
Received July 9th, 2012; revised August 10th, 2012; accepted August 27th, 2012
Information technology and communication in education have transformed the traditional school in digital
classrooms. The adaptability of technological tools as teaching-learning resources facilitates the ration-
alization of educational work. Operate with a network computer, through digital information flows, al-
lows us to opening choices for preparing and presenting educational contents. The practical utilities are
perhaps the most visible aspect of this new form that takes the contemporary education. Deepening on
changes that occur in schools, it is necessary ask ourselves on the model of learning that information and
communication technologies (ICT) trigger. It is also necessary to realize the need of adjusting the educa-
tive offer to the student’s ways of receiving information, linking teaching contents to the learning style of
students. This paper reflects on this topic of discussion, introducing as a debate the new learning styles
that raise the digital technologies. Such a learning style is called here indexed.
Keywords: Didactics; Indexed Learning; Traditional Teaching; Digitalized Education
Teaching styles, that is, the way in which knowledge is
transmitted, how lectures are taught, derive from the concept of
education that the society holds. For Plato (427-347 BC), edu-
cation provided the body and soul the beauty possible Locke
(1632-1704) endorsed the idea that education is the achieve-
ment of a healthy soul in a healthy body. Kant (1724-1804) said
that education is aimed at human development and perfection
of all that nature brings. Pestalozzi (1746-1827) confirmed his
master’s philosophy and put on education the responsibility for
natural, gradual and systematic development of all human ca-
pacities. Herbart (1776-1841), years later, generalized the con-
cept of education as the art of forming. Dilthey (1833-1911)
presented more systematically the concept of education as a
planned activity aimed at the formation of new generations. We
can go back and forth, looking for a diachronic concept of edu-
cation. Even add a more contemporary approach like lifelong
learning (Delors, 1997) and still we could not find an unambi-
guous concept of education. However, a consensus seems to
exist today about a somewhat absurd idea: it is possible to
know without learning (innate knowledge). In ancient times,
when relating knowledge and learning, Protagoras (480-411 BC)
raised the possibility that a person can know something but be
unaware of knowing it (Martínez, 2008). The axiom proposed
by this non-declarative knowledge is particularly relevant in
technological contexts of education.
The concept “education” defines social processes that facili-
tate learning of human communities. Socialization and cul-
turalization, as preparation for social participation and for ac-
quiring cultural models respectively, are equivalent to educa-
tion. Teaching and learning define their dynamic sense. Thus,
an individual progresses when achieving independence from
the uncertainty of their environment. If progress means to gain
independence, the priority should be increasing knowledge. But,
knowledge is wisdom? The discussion isn’t closed.
Knowledge is information gained through introspection, ex-
perience or learning. It is linked to social praxis and action
(Habermas, 1985). Knowledge is sensitive in assessing the pos-
session of multiple interconnected data that alone have low-
quality but together have high-quality. Reasoning is the capac-
ity of treating those data methodically, that is, the ability of
spontaneously combining two or more separate or isolated ex-
periences to form a new concept or idea which can efficiently
serve for obtaining an aim. All these capabilities are character-
istics of Homo sapiens, as Linnaeus classified the human spe-
cies in 1758 in “System of Nature” (Paterlini, 2007). If we fo-
cus on human capacities, it is absurd to state that everything has
been done in education. In the area where education is essential,
the school, now the capacities are called competencies: know-
how in specific situations that require creative flexible and
responsible application of knowledge, skills and attitudes (Bow-
den & Marton, 2004). Teachers, especially in the Infant and
Primary levels when students they are highly motivated and
inspired by their ingenuity and creativity, expand the idea that
participation and learning are inseparable (Hrastinski, 2009).
On this methodological framework, they teach core compe-
tences far away from the discursive methods of teaching and
the textbooks as basic materials. With such innovative enthuse-
asm they propose educational projects where the network (In-
ternet) acts as a container of knowledge that facilitates learning
(Groff & Mouza, 2008).
In the age of E-Learning and knowledge management we all
know that the technological tools are not only processors of up-
dated contents indexed in coded images. Educators must in-
quire into all the educational possibilities offered by virtual
learning environments (Neuman & Kyriakakis, 2002). They
should trigger new ways of communication, new learning styles.
The language of the twenty-first century is a multimedia lan-
guage where the word is a symbol decoded with one or more
meanings. The image is a visual representation (Sartori, 1997)
E. DOPICO, M. FERNÁNDEZ-URQUIZA
which gives certainty and reliability to the encoded idea. In
other words, the text helps to understand what the image com-
municates (Obach, 1997) through interactive and multisensory
hyper documents (Gutiérrez Marín, 2003). These documents
are indexed. Any user of the web knows that to be indexed is to
be in one of the first pages selected by a searching engine. In-
dexing is to add a page, regardless of its format, to the list of
search results. To make it understandable, indexing is ordering
contents by setting indexes (http://www.wikipedia.org). These
indexes are only concepts. Concepts are multimodal: are words,
morphemes, and grammatical constructions expressed (Gallese
& Lakoff, 2005); are the way in which the human mind simpli-
fies the world. They are units of thought that help to organizing
the facts. Categorization is a cognitive faculty (Rosch, 1978). It
allows us to reduce the informative load of stimuli to bearable
proportions. Thus, we can interact efficiently with our envi-
ronment. There are more concepts than words (Wagensberg,
2006), but we depend almost entirely on words to communicate.
Vigotski (1986) says that we should identify language and
thought. However, everybody thinks in images before learning
to think in words.
The digital culture widens sensory perception, digitizes the
senses (Gómez Pin, 2006). Relax the commitment with own
self-learning. Suggests lax practices like intertextuality, where
foreign productions can become personal elaborations reinter-
preted in new contexts (Tíscar, 2005). These procedures are
questioned, it is not well seen, are called cut and paste exer-
cises. Indeed, they develop tools to detect plagiarism (Butakov
& Scherbinin, 2009). Despite this, the reutilization of another
person’s’ ideas is another form of knowledge and, although
despised, it will not disappear. Notwithstanding it, the digital
culture also promotes more committed learning processes. Per-
haps it is time for the Didactics, as scientific-pedagogical disci-
pline which aims to study the process of teaching and learning,
addresses the analysis of these virtual intentional communica-
tion systems with which a person can develop his/her knowl-
Learning Experiences in Cultural Transition
Until it appears the printing press, oral tradition, with their
limitations of time and space, is the primary source of infor-
mation in society (Dopico, 2009). The handwriting will mean
an extraordinary progress allowing to record and to store this
information, heritage till then of the natural memory. Its trans-
fer to educational contexts was immediate. In basic training, the
oral language and discussion they will not be already the prior-
ity forms of acquisition of knowledge. The teaching and learn-
ing of literacy becomes the target of formal education. The di-
dactic sequence is the key element for the development of learn-
ing because one learns as one is taught. In educational contexts,
learning is understood as the process of acquiring knowledge
through study or experience (http://www.rae.es;
http://dictio-nary.cambridge.org). Learning is a process, by which
an individual acquires practical skills, incorporates new data, new
information contents, new strategies of knowledge and action.
It is possible to learn through many ways. In trial-and-error
learning, actions are carried out randomly to find the action
associated with the reward sought. In associative learning
(Froufe Torres, 2006) two or more objects are linked. In deduc-
tive learning the ability to obtain new knowledge from prior
information is developed by means of logical reasoning. In in-
ductive learning concepts and relationships are associated by a
series of examples and counterexamples. In learning by anal-
ogy, capacities to cope with new situations are acquired consid-
ering the analogy with other cases already known, adapting
prior knowledge to the new situation. In the banking model of
learning the important subject is the content to be stored. It is
also possible learning by discov ery , where the subject con-
structs his/her knowledge without help. In rote learning the
individual doesn’t feel authentically engaged in the learning
process. This mechanical type of learning, it is characterized by
arbitrary introduction of new knowledge without integration
into their cognitive structure through meaningless memoriza-
tion (opposed to comprehensive memorization).Therefore does
not encompasses knowledge transfer. A benchmark against
memory education, Vygotsky (1988), considers sterile and im-
possible the direct teaching of concepts. Summarizing, in all the
possible ways of learning, it is clearly defined as a dynamic
process which is built from the individual and which depends
on the context.
In fact, we learn to face and solve problems through making
appropriate decisions. To guide decision taking, heuristics (first
introduced by Protagoras) proposes simple and effective rules.
Heuristics explain, in a practical level, how people arrive at a
reasoned opinion or solve a problem through creativity and
lateral or divergent thinking (De Bono, 1967). Guilford (1959)
classified productive thinking into two categories: convergent
thinking, which seeks to find one only solution to a given prob-
lem through a set of conventional questions and answers, and
divergent (lateral) thinking that moves in several directions
seeking the best solution to solve problems that are generally
faced as new questions out of established/conventional resolu-
tion patterns. The latter may well give a generous amount of
solutions instead of finding a unique and correct one. In teach-
ing and learning the V Heuristics (Novak & Gowin, 1984) is a
teaching tool which is employed to solve problems or to under-
stand a case study. It helps students to understand the structure
of knowledge and the ways we take to produce this knowledge.
Develop intuitive learning, related to the reasoning. Such intui-
tive learning and instantaneous understanding are common
references in all technological devices where handling simplic-
ity is sought. This makes obsolete the criticism of the design of
multimedia programs (Norman, 1988; Raskin, 2000).
Learning is not imposed from outside, rather is always con-
structed. With a perceptive approximation, Kolb (1984) descri-
bed the experiential learning cycle pointing out that any learn-
ing process is a cycle that starts from the experience and ends
with a practice that once again becomes a source of experience
that promotes new thinking. Significant learning in school re-
quires from the student’s experiential culture (what he knows
and how it was acquired) to create a shared knowledge space in
the classroom (Pérez Gómez, 1993). This type of learning
involves the effective incorporation of contents to the pupil’s
comprehensive memory. In educational intervention, the terms
learning to learn and learning by doing signify measures aimed
to develop competences In order that the pupils could learn by
Digitalization and convergence of media and information
services favor the development of a modern “knowledge econ-
omy” (Schleicher, 2006). This unleashes socio-cultural changes
(Castells, 2000) with evident cultural and educational implica-
tions. Demand itself, new competences, such as digital literacy.
Digital literacy is structured around three elements: a tool, (the
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
E. DOPICO, M. FERNÁNDEZ-URQUIZA
computer); a procedure (its handling); and a capacity (to en-
code-and-decode digital information). We already have digital
natives and digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001) who are always
on (always connected) (Cornella, 2006). Somehow, and to para-
phrase Jay Gould (2004), this may represent a new structure of
evolutionary thought. Perhaps a new learning style: an indexed
learning where concepts, properly labelled are deployed in net-
works of symbolic relationships, associating images, sounds
and words. We are in the 2.0 space, the cybernetics space. Fur-
thermore, since late 2005, we are indeed in the blogosphere 3.0,
the world of the blogs, which gives true meaning to the virtual
communities (Rheingold, 1993). These are social networks where
interactive communication supported by software tools allows
people to organize themselves around common interests or
shared purposes. These spaces have also detractors who drink
from critical sources of television (Bourdieu, 1998). They qual-
ify of monkeys that propose an idiots’ culture to all those who
hang contents on the network (Keen, 2007). Undoubtedly, this
should be the subject of ontological and epistemological reflec-
tions. From a pedagogical perspective, what matters here are
the educational implications of all this, the ways of learning
that proposes and the teaching dimension of multimedia learn-
Tidy Learning in Tags
Learning requires adapting oneself to the demands of the en-
vironment by developing new conduct or relatively permanent
changes in behavior. In its educational sense it is defined as a
school teaching product. Online education offers are based on
learning objectives (Tyler, 1949; Bloom, 1956), establishing a
false association between outcome-based education and effec-
tive learning. In fact, information and communication techno-
logies (ICT) in the education area have confused behaviorism
with constructivism. Thus, we find that the type and amount of
information offered to pupils, as well as the way in which it is
presented, is being decided by computer programmers, and not
necessarily by education experts.
Nevertheless, the e-learning and Web-based instruction (WBI)
(Lu & Liao, 2008), is more than training proposals imple-
mented using network services and ICT-based tools. With the
tools of interactivity, the receptors of the contents must be
taken into account. In this sense, the activities planned and the
specific operations proposed affect learning because they have
their own repertoire of property objective. In other words, the
action of the observer alters the observed system (Cohen-Tan-
noudji, 1992); the active participation of the learner can dis-
perse learning regardless of whether they meet the education
goals. As reported above, Protagoras (greek sophist) was an
expert in rhetoric. Rhetoric is a system of rules and resources
that operate at different levels in the construction of a speech. It
studies and systematizes procedures and techniques to use lan-
guage in a persuasive and aesthetical way. As ICT incorporate
words, images and sounds, today Protagoras would have a PC
for teaching media education, an educational model based on
This style of learning shares some characteristics with ma-
chine learning (Mitchell, 2006) in that it takes as starting point
some initial knowledge (digital literacy) about informative
devices, generally learnt through symbolic inductive learning.
A second stage of learning is rapidly reached, consisting on the
construction and modification of rules and concepts (symbolic
learning), like acquiring knowledge represented by numerical
factors not directly related to a particular concept (sub-symbolic
learning), characteristic of fuzzy logic (fuzzy thinking) (Kosko,
1993). The uniqueness of the learning index is its expansive
capacity. This can be better perceived if we compared it with
the conventional learning model (Kamsin, 2005; Salas Vinent,
2009; Abdelaziz et al., 2011) that the analogical school was pro-
posing. The teacher was communicating the content of learning
through oral and graphical presentations. The word, the black-
board and textbooks were the only pedagogical resources. The
students were receiving and processing this information. Those
who were finding a conductive thread in this vertical commu-
nication (very slightly interactive), they could develop a logical
reasoning and transfer these learnings to other contexts, who
not, simply they were memorizing them (Figure 1).
In the world in which we live, in the educational technology
and the management of the knowledge, things are different. The
levels of certainty about the universal culture accumulated have
changed to an indexed mode. All experiences and perceptions
are duly organized and registered. From this point of view, in-
dexed learning is a product of social computerization and edu-
cational contents stored in digital formats. The model of in-
dexed learning proposes a way to acquire knowledge that is ge-
neralized from the homepage to any computer or laptop. Oper-
ating intuitively, indexed learning automatically provides real
value without a need of verifying it empirically. It adapts what
is already known to a reality which is offered by the successive
links, which are in turn activated by lateral thinking (De Bono,
2000), seeking various alternatives to solve problems. This kind
of representation and access to knowledge provides people the
self-perception of constructing their own learning. Thus, the
illusion of building an efficient and meaningful learning arises
Within educational settings, this type of learning had been al-
ready incubated in online teaching. Now it grows and spreads
out in schools, high schools and university faculties. The class-
rooms are being devoid from sheets, books, chalk and discur-
sive methodologies. In them, enter now the knowledge that di-
gital society proposes, totally opened and participative. The in-
teractivity tries to be total between the subject that learns and
the software that induces the teaching. The extent of indexed
learning can be seen in the potential of conceptual maps (Mén-
dez et al., 2003; Cañas et al., 2004; Novak. & Cañas, 2006), e.g.
Oral Presentation and
graph of the knowledge
Model of conventional learning.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1303
E. DOPICO, M. FERNÁNDEZ-URQUIZA
Indexed learning model.
in the use of Interactive Digital Blackboard (IDB) which re-
places blackboard chalk with a computer connected to a video
projector. The use of the Tablet PC, which combines the com-
puter and the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), is replacing the
traditional notebook because it is easier to write on a touch
screen. The digital pedagogic resources are enhanced with ed-
iting tools and published contents like the WebQuest (Dodge,
1995; CPR, 2007), which aims to better regulate student time,
so he/she can deal more with how to use information than with
how to search it. As the audiovisual language permeates the
educational contents, the popularity of YouTube approaches it
to school with the production, publication and socialization of
videos developed in class. Blogs are also arriving to the class-
rooms, as personal websites individually managed by reverse
chronology (Orihuela, 2006). They can be converted into Edu-
blogs, weblogs whose main objective is to support a teaching-
learning process in an educational context (Contreras, 2004).
The ICT offer many possibilities of use in the classroom.
Here, the teacher’s role consists in scheduling an intuitive ins-
truction to facilitate the students’ connectivity with the software.
To provide learning contents distributed in XML-based lan-
guages (Walsh, 2007), with syndicated feed readers and pod-
casting. In the most advanced levels of indexed education, tea-
chers can audit Edublogs, which are managed by the students.
Discussion: The Measure of Virtual Knowledge
The indexed learning is virtual knowledge. Operates in digi-
tal environments of information from which the knowledge can
be transferred constantly to other contexts. Another issue is
whether the knowledge it generates is an empty knowledge.
Moreover, if the synthesis of the synthesis of all ephemeral
information produced is real knowledge or whether experts who
synthesize information have become owners of the transmission
of knowledge. With indexed learning, as with any other aca-
demic learning, we need to know what is happening. In educa-
tion, everything is always measured. Measurement of learning
is called assessment. Teachers tend to evaluate in a so dispro-
portionate manner that sometimes they do not even raise the
possibility that what they require can’t match what they teach.
If the student does not meet the competencies required, the res-
ponsibility belongs exclusively to him/her: teachers give all but
students are not committed. This simple axiom may seem ex-
aggerated but it is a quotidian academic experience for stu-
dents, who are always conditioned when they are not involved
in their own assessment.
Although it is more practical to evaluate student’s core com-
petences measuring their performance than applying a written
examination (López & Leal, 2002), However, they are contin-
ued elaborating learning guides that ordering the educational
process around a final exam. Their epistemological bases are
classical and somewhat stale when compared with the students
profile in the twenty-first century. These guides begin with an
initial knowledge assessment to mark the learning evolution.
After the period of instruction, assessment booklets are pro-
duced which are presented to students as Closed Format Ques-
tions to assess knowledge; Open-Ended Questions to assess the
ability to establish relationships within the knowledge learned
and their synthesis capacity; Case Resolution Exercises to as-
sess their analytical capabilities and assimilation of knowledge
learned, their reflective capacity and their personal approach for
providing solutions to problems using the knowledge learned;
and, Simulation Exercises to assess, skills and procedures. All
this is combined with the typical Assessment through Observa-
tion, where the attendance, participation and cooperation of the
students are registered. To this mechanical system of evaluation
has joined the portfolio assessment (Arter & Spandel, 1991).
This evaluation system allows monitoring the evolution of the
learning process. They do both teacher and student. Will be the
students productions who indicate the necessary changes in the
learning process (Thomas et al., 2005).
Times have long changed and although the teaching styles go
slower, the ways of learning have also changed. The technology
available today in the field of education requires new mecha-
nisms to assess learning. The transnational overall evaluations
are indicating the route. In May 2009, the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) started the
2010 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)
report, where the reading skills of 25,000 boys and girls from
60 countries were assessed through an electronic reading test.
The aim was to measure the abilities required to access, manage,
integrate and evaluate information, to construct new knowledge
from electronic texts (something different than when printed).
More than measuring their reading ability, this text measures
the cognitive skills needed for effective use of technology
(http://www.sindicat.net/n.php?n=9366). With the generaliza-
tion of these proposals, students cease to be taxable persons
evaluated by their productions. They become part of the process
of making decisions about the degree of competences that they
are acquiring in their academic trajectory.
Digital academic resources contribute in a more fluid way to
the evaluation. These new systems are being introduced in the
classroom, stepping into the academic curriculum. As virtual
Pathfinders, web guides bring together resources to help users
to search for information. For example, Heading assessment is
a technique employed to assess student learning through mo-
dels with the aim of measuring basic skills. At present only the
Repositories, centralized sites that store and maintain digital
information, usually databases or files, seem to be really rele-
At the university, teachers teach in their classes what they
have learned in the analogy era, but their students live in an-
other dimension (Prensky, 2001). Nowadays students still keep
living in another dimension, but teachers have already upgraded
their knowledge and skills in the use of ICT. At university level
it is common to have access to repositories where the courses
are stored and updated. Students have access to them using a
computer network through personal authentication, which al-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
E. DOPICO, M. FERNÁNDEZ-URQUIZA
lows them to study and perform the tasks proposed by the
teacher. Taking advantage of the ease of access and transit,
students regulate their workload within the academic calendar
without the need of their physical presence at the classroom.
While face-to-face teaching at the University is recommended,
the combination of face-to-face teaching and virtual participa-
tion enables us to use indexed learning alongside with a more
interpersonal teaching and learning processes.
Conclusions: Educational Effects
We live in the information society and, as any other social
model established along the History, criticism is inherent. From
the economic point of view, marketing of knowledge is unstop-
pable. The audiovisual space is a marketed product of a long
tail (Anderson, 2004), and their sellers employ the most persua-
sive marketing techniques to sell their products through viral
advertising. Sociological analysis has warned about the dan-
ger of assuming that ICT allow an immediate access to knowl-
edge. This assertion is wrong in empirical terms (Castells,
2000). Economical standpoints make use of economic indica-
tors to measure educational concepts, conceiving schools as
business that offers products to their customers. The training
needs are ranked on deficiencies, demands, values. Education is
program- med. Everything can be satisfied if a need is gener-
ated that will lead to demand.
The old conceptual framework of pedagogy sets that the edu-
cational proposals should design the training in terms of par-
ticipants. Digital education proposes to organize it in terms of
knowledge, of skills to be developed and qualification to be ob-
tained. To do so, it triggers a frenzy of activity, inexhaustibly
hanging on the network conceptual contents developed into
images and texts. The huge volume of information which is be-
ing created would be unmanageable without the metadata. Na-
mely, data that relate to other data and which are in turn linked
to other data. Metadata are employed to identify, describe,
locate, retrieve, organize and preserve interrelated information
(Koutsomitropoulos et al., 2010). Data are indexed with key-
words or labels (tags) written in HTML to describe the page
that defines the link.
These systems of information flow have great educational
significance. An example is the case of Weblogs converted into
Edublogs (Gewerc Barujel, 2005), which are employed by
teachers in a powerful virtual work. In these virtual working
environments, knowledge is shared and the web is more than a
resource. It is a space governed by the collective intelligence
(Lévy, 2004) from all the users who operate on the network
environment producing contents and sharing resources. In ab-
sence of a programmer, the designer is the users’ community.
They control their own work by qualifying some contents and
rejecting others, thus giving credibility to information on Web
sites (Iding et al., 2009). Collective intelligence exerts its con-
trol through plebiscite. That is to say, decision-making is done
through the option chosen by the majority. Through continuous
edition, every individual, at any time, can add, edit or delete the
contents provided by other individuals, as in Wikipedia. From a
didactic standpoint we would like to know how our students
learn today from ICT (Keengwe et al., 2009). This essay seeks
to contribute by proposing the concept of indexed learning. It
has been defined here as a kind of learning that begins with the
interaction with the software, managing writing and reading
competences and mathematic skills. In successive links to con-
cepts and images it develops by induction new concepts and
images. Thus, students learn by direct connection with the in-
formation provided on the Web. There is a relationship of im-
mediate credibility between the person who learns and the digi-
tal link who teaches. Simplicity gives value to the indexed lear-
ning. With intuition, learners develop an immediate non-linear
understanding. With perception, they complement the deductive
sequence of rational thought (Ornstein, 1976). The Indexed
learning is not stable but dynamic: it avoids repetition. It pre-
fers to act for discovering new possibilities and relationships
adopting new concepts appropriately tagged. Locke (1999) said
that all ideas come from sensation or reflection. Yes. Knowl-
edge is produced after a proper assimilation of information but,
as information on the web is endlessly flowing, students now
have more information. However, their analysis tends to be
more superficial. Perhaps this is due to the way they learn and
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