Posts tagged learning

A summary of the role of creativity in learning, and how to nurture a culture of creativity.

One could argue that a side effect of finding information is learning. So surely this means that the problem is not Wikipedia but that learning needs to evolve and we need to shift from a pedagogy of answers to a pedagogy of questions (and here I wanted to shout out ‘open learning and teaching practices’). In reality Wikipedia is a gift to education as it encourages people to learn how to think.

Experiment: Social networks, innovation, learning and collective intelligence

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’).

Experimental design

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.

Connectivism course learning network

The App generation

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

a Zo-ped [zone of proximal development] is a dialogue between the child and his future; it is not a dialogue between the child and an adult’s past

Book chapter “Current Activity for the Future: the Zo-ped" in Children’s Learning in the Zone of Proximal Development

Koller, Ng, Do, and Chen say “When viewed in the appropriate context, retention in MOOCs is often quite reasonable.” I disagree. I think it may be helpful in this case to think of MOOCs like video games, TV shows, or other forms of equivalent mass media. If a successful TV show retains 5% of the initial audience that joined an online community about that show, a studio does not assume the other 95% just didn’t intend to finish the show. Instead, the studio fires writing staff, brings on new actors, or does not renew the show.