Researchers from the University of British Columbia did an experiment that measured performance of groups of learners over generations (in the experiment: subsequent groups of students) with either one or more experts available.
Here, we test the relationship between sociality and cumulative cultural evolution in two laboratory experiments, where sociality is operationalized in terms of a participant’s ability to access and learn from multiple experienced individuals (‘models’ or ‘cultural parents’).
It builds on archaeological and ethnohistorical research that suggests a link between a population’s size and structure, and the diversity or sophistication of its toolkits or technologies. The results are not that surprising, but confirm the importance of sociality and the diversity of a population, and the advancement of knowledge (or innovation).
I think the core issue here might not be sociality but diversity, do you agree? If the models would be exactly the same, the different groups would have more or less the same results (I guess). More teachers means more diversity means more diverse input for solving (complex) problems, resulting in a more diverse set of strategies that can be passed on to the next generation? Also, there were hardly time-constraints, it really was an experimental setting. Many factors have been omitted (obviously), which in ‘real life’ would also impact learning and innovation across generations. Maybe cognitive load theory would be an interesting theme to consider: more experts might also mean an increased cognitive load…
Michael Muthukrishna et al., Sociality influences cultural complexity, Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences, 2013, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2511
Reflecting on this, and what it might mean in designing (online) learning environments… We have to learn how to learn from each other and from mentors, promote passing on knowledge within and between generations, and learn how to find and build knowledge in complex socio-technical networks. We also have to focus on the quality and diversity of learning networks. In other words: duplication of knowledge in the way xMOOCs promote, even in a pedagogically sound way, is not sufficient. The Internet does allow networked learning and making useful connections, so it would be a pity if only the ‘duplication’ MOOC versions rise to the surface, while the evenly valuable (because focused on sociality) connectivist courses remain marginalized.
The most effective ways for affluent societies to reduce the environmental impact of their diets are to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products (especially beef), to favor organic fruits and vegetables, and to avoid goods that have been transported by air on both individual and institutional levels (e.g., public procurement, public catering).
From: Reisch L., Eberle U., & Lorek S. 2013. Sustainable food consumption: an overview of contemporary issues and policies. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 9(2):7-25. Published online Jul 19, 2013. http:///archives/vol9iss2/1207-033.reisch.html
The entire special issue on food consumption of the open access journal Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy can be downloaded here.
The App Generation is not a pean to a new technology or a Cassandra’s warning, but rather a tale of how technology leads to shifts in culture and how emerging cultures shape and are shaped by human psychology. Gardner and Davis have good news and bad to share about the app generation. On the whole, students are more tolerant of difference. They are also more risk averse. They find compelling evidence of an increase in visual creativity and imagination from a detailed study of twenty years of student artwork. They find compelling evidence of a decrease of literary creativity in a corpus of student writing. Students are more connected to their parents, and less capable of developing independence. They struggle with ambiguity. They are highly skilled at shaping their public image, and trapped by the constant demands of shaping their public image. They are good at staying in touch, and struggle with expressing themselves sincerely. They are good at using short-cuts, and sometimes they cut right past the most important parts of life..
From: EdTech research
I am currently following, whenever I have some time, a course called Social Psychology. It feels somewhere between watching television and old-fashioned school. I mean watching television in a positive sense: because the course content is packaged quite neatly in 10-minute videos, with only a few simple assignments, the cognitive load is quite acceptable. Also, because everything is laid out in front of you: the course is entirely clear from week to week and from video to video (and from reading to reading and assignment to assignment).
I am facing several deadlines at the moment (why are you blogging then??? .. ehm good question) and that is why I am already weeks behind the official schedule. This is quite demotivating and Coursera and other MOOC providers should be aware of that: that the other side of the coin (or fact) that it is stimulating to follow the pace of the course, it is equally demotivating to get behind schedule. Fortunately, I am not interested in getting an ‘official’ course credit for this course, so I am doing it at my own pace anyway. This is not what I want to write about now. Rather, I was thinking: what is the value of a course? If I look at the entire course of Social Psychology, what is the rationale behind it? Introduction to Social Psychology is a comprehensive account of the field, yes, but do we need to have that overview? The course objectives state that we are going to be aware of how our behavior is influenced by others, and that that is a good thing.
I am just asking, but what makes a ‘compilation’ of content and ideas more or less valuable? I think it relates to what we intend to do with the ‘acquired’ knowledge. Since that will vary among the students participating in the course, a general overview is better? Or should the course be designed in such a way that from the start, students can customize and adapt their learning experience (for example based on some preliminary questions about topics, base knowledge, objectives, etc.). Thinking about what you want with the course is a very good start anyway, but may also allow for more efficient group formation and collaboration (something I will be researching the coming months).
An upcoming EdX course (Next Generation Infrastructures - May 2014) developed by my own faculty (from scratch) is going to do that: after an initial period, it will offer 6 or 7 different tracks, all facilitated by the appropriate professors (somewhere around the world), creating a wider range of optional course participation. Although it is quite complex from an organizational perspective, it is an interesting MOOC-approach.
If we take this idea a step further, I imagine cutting all MOOC content into pieces, and letting students or recommendation systems develop cross-media courses based on personal objectives, interests, and context (e.g. shared interests between you and others who are near you). Yes, the old-fashioned learning objects approach. We’ll see..