I’m working through a great article that deals with learning in a web 2.0 world called Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. John Seely and Richard Adler move through the changing dynamics of teaching and learning in a social, web 2.0 space, and talk specifically about social learning and the changing pedagogies it brings.
Coming from a College where I leveraged blogs, wikis, podcasts, video and other aspects of technology, I already agree with much of the article. The authors discuss the “Cartesian view of learning” where the subject expert (usually the instructor) views knowledge as substance, and the pedagogy is all about transferring this substance from the expert to the novice. Many consider this the foundation of our educational system.
The authors argue that we are now moving to a social view of learning focusing on participation. By participating in class discussions, study groups and informal and formal interactions, understanding is something that is socially constructed, not simply a substance that transfers from instructor to student.
As I prepare to teach again, I’m debating having traditional tests for the first time in my teaching career. Since my Master’s degree in instructional technology, I focus nearly all of my teaching efforts on facilitation and project- and problem-based learning. I feel in some instances, especially foundational courses, I might need to weave in a small portion of this “cartesian” view of learning that the authors of this paper seem to infer is bad.
I agree that a course delivered 100% in this cartesian method would be bad, but some aspects of a course or specific content still works well in this method, right?