Saturday, February 02, 2008

Participation and Learning 2.0

Both Rick Schwier and Mark at E-BCNZer (see there also links to his interchange with George Siemens on connectivism) refer to an EDUCAUSE Review article by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler that nails for me the reality that important theological themes and trends in education theory are converging rapidly--clearly, evidence that I need to get my project done before its conclusions are so obvious that those evaluating it use that wonderfully pointed popular ironic expression: "Ya think?"
Some excerpts illustrating my point (just substitute "disciple/follower of Jesus" or "theologian" for "student"):

“The emphasis on social learning stands in sharp contrast to the traditional Cartesian view of knowledge and learning—a view that has largely dominated the way education has been structured for over one hundred years. The Cartesian perspective assumes that knowledge is a kind of substance and that pedagogy concerns the best way to transfer this substance from teachers to students. By contrast, instead of starting from the Cartesian premise of ‘I think, therefore I am,’ and from the assumption that knowledge is something that is transferred to the student via various pedagogical strategies, the social view of learning says, ‘We participate, therefore we are.’

“Mastering a field of knowledge involves not only ‘learning about’ the subject matter but also ‘learning to be’ a full participant in the field. This involves acquiring the practices and the norms of established practitioners in that field or acculturating into a community of practice.”

“In a traditional Cartesian educational system, students may spend years learning about a subject; only after amassing sufficient (explicit) knowledge are they expected to start acquiring the (tacit) knowledge or practice of how to be an active practitioner/professional in a field.9 But viewing learning as the process of joining a community of practice reverses this pattern and allows new students to engage in ‘learning to be’ even as they are mastering the content of a field. This encourages the practice of what John Dewey called ‘productive inquiry’—that is, the process of seeking the knowledge when it is needed in order to carry out a particular situated task."

9 Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966).

“The web offers innumerable opportunities for students to find and join niche communities where they can benefit from the opportunities for distributed cognitive apprenticeship. Finding and joining a community that ignites a student’s passion can set the stage for the student to acquire both deep knowledge about a subject (‘learning about’) and the ability to participate in the practice of a field through productive inquiry and peer-based learning (‘learning to be’). These communities are harbingers of the emergence of a new form of technology-enhanced learning—Learning 2.0—which goes beyond providing free access to traditional course materials and educational tools and creates a participatory architecture for supporting communities of learners.”

John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler, “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0,” EDUCAUSE Review 43 (January/February 2008): 16–32.

1 comment:

DG said...

Randy, is there another distinction to be made? Should the Torrancian "learning after" be also included? i.e., It may not be an ontological "transfer" of knowledge ("learning about") but it may need also to include a "learning after." There is, I would say, still some "asymmetry" that "participation" may not quite get at.

Ya think? ;)