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EDUCATION

Network Learning as Experiential Learning

What kinds of educational learning experiences would change lives?

In answer to that question, George Kuh’s monograph on high-impact practices has been enormously influential throughout higher education. one When Kuh published his monograph in 2008, the emphasis on the competitiveness of the United States global economy was framing the value of a college / university degree increasingly in terms of an individual’s potential for lifetime earnings, as well as the human capital of the nation for research, development and production. Education was increasingly about careers and “skills” (a word Kuh himself uses, albeit in a broader sense that others have) and less about research, that is, making, and a human overview of life. human capacity. Kuh’s essay implicitly recognized that one of the great costs of abandoning these broader views of the purpose of higher education was that students might become alienated from their own learning experiences. He was correct. Although “student-centered learning” became the mantra, the increased attention to outcomes and goals served (and still serves) to allow for a narrow, behavioral approach to measuring easily, easily describing outcomes. linked to detailed prescriptions, rules and sanctions, all contained in the course contracts  (ie syllabi, of course).

On the contrary, Kuh’s “high impact practices” tried to reinforce and, in some cases, recover the idea of ​​learning everything as an adventure in discernment and self-realization within a deeply relational social context, an adventure in synthesis. and integration. Kuh’s conceptual framework assumes a progressive culture of teaching, which would emphasize individual learning within a growing web of connections ranging from the personal to the highly conceptual. This network is what Jerome Bruner called, fifty years ago, “the web of social reciprocity.” twoIn Kuh’s framework, support for network discovery would be at the center of both the learning environment as designed by the faculty and the learning environment as experienced by the students.

Kuh featured ten high-impact practices, arranged in a foundation stone-by-cornerstone design that were explicitly fused curricular and co-curricular (ie, no course- or classroom-defined) learning. Its design addressed the need for a comprehensive approach to student learning at the undergraduate level; As he pointed out: “On almost all campuses, the use of active learning practices is unsystematic, to the detriment of student learning.” Within Kuh’s design they are practical, mostly, but not entirely in the curricular area, which have come to be called  experiential learning: study abroad, internships, service learning, and community engagement. Depending on the institution, undergraduate research can also be included in the experiential learning category. The common denominator is a real-world context that offers deep integration opportunities for classroom learning that must be applied to complex and complexly situated problems or opportunities.

However, one critical element does not appear on Kuh’s list: network learning through the Internet, especially the World Wide Web. In  Turing Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe,  George Dyson observed: “The stored-program computer, as conceived by Alan Turing and delivered by John von Neumann, broke the distinction between numbers that  mean  things and numbers that  do things. Our universe. it would never be the same. “3 Unfortunately, most of higher education has flatly overlooked, ignored or denied this crucial turning point, just as we rightly value and try to preserve earlier forms of network learning implicit within the very word  university. .

Although the management structures of course schedules, credit hours, online registration (similar to online banking), “learning management”, and all the mechanics of “student success” can make the more compartmentalized and fragmented learning experience, there is still a core set of pre-digital network learning experiences at the heart of higher education. Go to the nearest college or university library. Ignore computer stations and digital affordances. Insert the batteries, and run your fingers along the spines of the books on the shelves. You are mapping nodes and connections. You’re playing network learning – in slow and erratic motion to be sure, but solid and present and, to tell the truth, exciting. The founders of the computing age of dreamers and builders such as Vannevar Bush, JCR Licklider, Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, and Adele in Digital Networking Goldberg – sought to amplify the reach and impact of networked learning and intelligence. collective species. They quickly realized the heady experiential nature of cyberspace they helped invent – an excitement like learning what a library really stands for. Why not offer students an experience of the sense of exciting possibility within cyberspace they give themselves by? sitting down, the cyberspace that LMS and applications have begun to remove from our point of view? and Adele Goldberg-digital network sought to amplify the scope and impact of network learning and the collective intelligence of the species. They quickly realized the heady experiential nature of cyberspace they helped invent – an excitement like learning what a library really stands for. Why not offer students an experience of the sense of exciting possibility within cyberspace they give themselves by? sitting down, the cyberspace that LMS and applications have begun to remove from our point of view? and Adele Goldberg-digital network sought to amplify the scope and impact of network learning and the collective intelligence of the species. They quickly realized the heady experiential nature of cyberspace they helped invent – an excitement like learning what a library really stands for. Why not offer students an experience of the sense of exciting possibility within cyberspace they give themselves by? sitting down, the cyberspace that LMS and applications have begun to remove from our point of view?

When considering high-impact practices in light of contemporary culture, digitally mediated network learning should be added to Kuh’s list, because the experience of building and participating within a digitally mediated network of discovery and collaboration is a foundation each. necessary for all other forms of experiential learning in the digital age. On the other hand, the experience of building and participating within a digitally mediated network of discovery is itself a form of experiential learning, indeed a type of meta-experiential learning that clearly and concretely teaches the experience of the networks themselves. With networks replacing stairs and trees as a primary metaphor to describe structures of knowledge, 4  If there is one thing the internet and the web should have taught us, it is that what Engelbart calls a “dynamic repository of knowledge” is a computer-mediated manifestation of the collective work of civilization, a manifestation as real as any other form. of mediated experience and, in light of Dyson’s observation, one that has properties as powerful, and malleable, as language itself.

No one believes that knowledge of the alphabet and the pronunciation of words mean that a person possesses the deep literacy necessary for college-level learning. However, our ideas about digital literacy are increasingly impoverished, to the point that many of my current students, immersed in a “walled garden” world of applications and social media, know next to nothing about the web. or on the internet. For the first time since the advent of the web, last year I discovered that most of my sophomores did not understand the concept of a URL and therefore struggled with the effective use and formation of hyperlinks in the classroom. writing network that the University College of the UCV affectionately calls  “vectorsof Thought in Space Concept ”, a phrase attributed by Kay de Engelbart and one that describes the fundamental aspect of the online learning experience. 5  My students did not seem to be able to analyze the domains in which they publish their work, which meant that they could not constantly figure out how to locate or link to each other’s work simply by examining the structure of the URLs involved. If one cannot understand the organizing principles of a built environment, one cannot contribute to construction. And if one cannot contribute to the construction, certain vital modes of knowledge will forever be out of reach.

Yet educators try to provide what Carl Rogers calls “freedom to learn” by continuing to work on those high-impact digital practices. 6  It is a paradoxical task, to be sure, but it is worth trying, especially now, when “for the first time in the still short period of human history, the experience of creating media for a possible large audience is available to a crowd. “7 experience of what Henry Jenkins has articulated as student network mediation” must participatory culture “extend his experience to the school as well. 8The school as a place of high-impact, learner-built, instructor-facilitated, networked digital learning practice can transform the educational experience, even as it preserves, and scales, our commitment to the education of the whole person .

The website has been designed only for this type of collaboration. You don’t need permission to hyperlink. However, it takes “the idea of ​​trust, the authority  of the decision-making media” to create meaning from those links. This trust and authority must be one of the highest learning outcomes available to our students within what Mimi Ito and others have described as “connected learning.” 9 Connections Initiated learners who identify both nodes and the lines between them, rather than simply connecting the dots that teachers have already established (valuable as that could be), co-creating what Lawrence Stenhouse argues is “the nature of the knowledge as something other than information … “-” a structure to support creative thinking and provide frameworks for judgment. ” Such structures can encourage an enormously beneficial flowering of human diversity, which is beyond the scope of ready-made results: “Education as an induction to knowledge is successful to the extent that it makes the results of student behavior unpredictable. ” 10

Offering students the ability to learn from computing expertise in all its personal, gloriously messy networked interactive varieties provides the richest opportunity yet for integrative thinking within and beyond “schooling.” If higher education can embrace the complexity of network learning and the state of emergency that network learning empowers can be assessed, it may still be time to foster network learning as a structure and arrangement, a design and a habit of being.

Notes

  1. George D. Kuh,  High Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access To Them, And Why They Matter   (Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2008).
  2. Jerome S. Bruner,  Toward a Theory of Instruction  (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1966).
  3. George Dyson, Turing Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (New York: Pantheon Books, 2012), ix.
  4. For an elegant exposition of the networking paradigm shift, see TED Talk by Manuel Lima,  “A Visual History of Human Knowledge ,” TED2015, March 2015.
  5. See Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee,  panel discussion, MIT / Chestnut Vannevar Bush Symposium, Cambridge, Massachusetts October 13, 1995.
  6. Carl R. Rogers, Freedom to Learn: A Vision of What Education Could Become (Columbus, OH: CE Merrill, 1969). George Siemens’ work on connectivist learning is vital in this regard.
  7. Scott Rosenberg,  “Doing is Knowing: ‘Sweet Jane’ and the Web,”  Wordyard Project,  August 10, 2014.
  8. Henry Jenkins et al.,  Facing the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century  (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009).
  9. For Ito’s most recent posting thoughts on this topic, see Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, and Danah Boyd,  Participatory Culture in a Networked Age: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics  (Malden, MA: Paidós, 2015 ).
  10. Lawrence Stenhouse,  Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development (London: Heinemann, 1975), 82.

Source: http://er.educause.edu/

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