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Learning in Low-tech, Information-rich Environments

Special issue call for papers from Information and Learning Sciences

Jerome Bruner (1961), a noted learning theorist, described learning as the process of acquiring information and internally organizing it for future use. Kuhlthau’s (2004) information search process (ISP) framework further ties information and learning together and builds on the work of Dewey (1910) and Vygotsky (Kozulin, 2003) by depicting information behavior as a process of constructing knowledge. Bruner and Kuhlthau’s positions suggest that people are seeking out and learning from information in the environments in which they exist in their daily lives. Often, these environments are enriched with information delivered through a variety of technologies. However, there are many places where people exist, seek out information, and learn in low-tech information environments as well.

A low-technology or low-tech information environment is one with relatively unsophisticated technological development or equipment but rich in information. While rapid developments have occurred in technological infrastructure in many parts of the world, low-tech information environments persist for many reasons. For instance, institutional and broader cultural practices and mindsets often do not support organizational changes in information technology; the push for greener and healthier information practices may sometimes favor low-technological environments; or the lack of infrastructure or resources, even temporarily, may require organizations and institutions to adopt adaptable and often low-tech solutions.

Jonassen (2011) contends that learning environments that are structured for problem-solving, with accessibility to the information needed to solve problems, maximize learning potential. Many organizations that are able to provide relevant information, albeit low-tech or tech-free, may still serve as highly-effective learning environments. For example, Nicol et al. (2018) found no noticeable difference when comparing the performance of students in high-technology classrooms versus those in low-technology classrooms designed for active learning. Campana (2018) found that public library storytimes offer multimodal information environments that support learning for young children using screen-free methods such as books, manipulatives, and other people in the environment. In addition, studies have also found that adding technology in a limited way to environments that were previously technology-free can generate a low-tech information environment that helps to support and extend the learning process for those involved (Nedungadi, Mulki, & Raman, 2018; Masters & Grogan, 2015).

This special issue aims to explore this phenomenon of learning in low-tech, information-rich environments. To do this, the co-editors of the special issue are seeking high-quality, innovative articles that address conceptual, empirical, and theoretical issues around learning in low-tech, information-rich environments. Preference will be given to papers with a design and/or innovation component that leads to learning. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • The current landscape of learning in low-tech information environments
  • Implementation of high-tech information and technological strategies in low-tech environments
  • Pedagogical approaches, models, and theories for effective learning in low-tech environments
  • Learning in formal and informal low-tech settings
  • Strategies and challenges for learning in low-tech information environments
  • Evaluation and assessment of learning in low-tech environments
  • Research methods, ethics, and implementation of learning in low-tech environments
  • Innovations in learning in low-tech information environments
  • The future of learning in low-tech environments
  • The purposeful design of low-tech information environments to support mindfulness and contemplation.

Co-Editors of the Special Issue:

Kathleen Campana, Kent State University, U.S.
John Marino, University of North Texas, U.S.

Naresh Agarwal, Simmons University, U.S. 

Submissions should comply with the journal author guidelines and should be made through ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access to ScholarOne Manuscripts are available at

Initial submission due: July 12th
First round decisions made: August 20th
Revised manuscripts due: Sept. 20th
Final decisions confirmed (revised manuscripts approved, sent to production): Oct. 10th
Nov/Dec Production
Anticipated publication date: Jan/Feb 2020


Bruner, J. S. (1961). The act of discovery. Harvard Educational Review, 31, 21–32.
Campana, K. (2018). The Multimodal Power of Storytime: Exploring an Information Environment for Young Children (Ph.D.). University of Washington, United States -- Washington. 

Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co.

Kozulin, A. (2003). Vygotsky's educational theory in cultural context. UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Jonassen, D. H. (2011). Learning to solve problems: A handbook for designing problem-solving learning environments. New York: Routledge.

Masters, J., & Grogan, L. (2015). Technology Goes Bush: Using Mobile Technologies to Support Learning in a Bush Kinder Program. International Association for Development of the Information Society, 12.

Nedungadi, P., Mulki, K., & Raman, R. (2018). Improving Educational Outcomes & Reducing Absenteeism at Remote Villages with Mobile Technology and WhatsAPP: Findings from Rural India. Education and Information Technologies, 23(1), 113–127.

Nicol, A. A. M., Owens, S. M., Le Coze, S. S. C. L., MacIntyre, A., & Eastwood, C. (2018). Comparison of High-Technology Active Learning and Low-Technology Active Learning Classrooms. Active Learning in Higher Education, 19(3), 253-265.