- First, don’t focus on the evidence, focus on the practice and use a tool that brings evidence to a practice focus. An example might be a checklist used by a surgical team as they prepare for surgery. The checklist reflects the available evidence and allows the team to bring that evidence to their practice focus, but still allows their cognitive load for addressing important aspect of their practice.
- Second, use cognitive tools to organize information and to orient evidence toward action. A research finding may represent important evidential information, but they are seldom oriented to practice in a way that naturally leads to action. An example is a network security assessment I developed. It reflect HIPPA security requirements (the evidence) in a series of 46 questions. The questions were structured not only to assess security status, to clarify an action plan that would improve the security status. This again would reduce the cognitive load needed to include an enormous amount of information in a short time span.
I must add a caveat to my last post. I use theory in a pragmatic instrumentalist way, not in an absolute way. Theory does have limits, an “everything in moderation” idea. Alex Kosulin explained the potential problems when theory becomes over extrapolated in his 1992 Introduction to Vygotsky’s Thought and Language*
Tracing the evolution of psychoanalysis, reflexology, Gestaltism, and personalism, (Vygotsky) revealed a uniform pattern to their development, an aggressive expansion in a desperate attempt to attain methodological hegemony. The first stage in the development of each of these systems is an empirical discovery that proves to be important for the revision of the existing views concerning some specific behavioral or mental phenomena. In the second stage . . .the initial discovery acquires a conceptual form, which expands so as to come to bear on related problems of psychology. Even at this stage the ties between the conceptual form and the underlying empirical discovery are eroded. The third stage is marked by the transformation of the conceptual form into an abstract explanatory principle applicable to any problem within the given discipline. The discipline is captured by this expanding explanatory principle. . . .At the fourth stage the explanatory principle disengages itself from the subject matter of psychology and becomes a general methodology . . . at which point, Vygotsky observed – it usually collapses under the weight of its enormous explanatory claims.
In other words; theoretical contexts are important and abstraction and extrapolation has its limits.
*Kozulin, A. (1992). Vygotsky in Context, in A. Kozulin (Ed.) Though and Language: Cambridge MA, MIT Press.
Further thoughts on the Connectivism course:
I like inclusion of the negotiation of meaning and the nature of network nodes instead of hierarchy. A favorite author of mine has been John Shotter who also speak in this way. In a rewrite of a 1994 book (Conversational Realities Revisited; (2008; http://www.taosinstitute.net/) he says that life as an academic leaves us with something missing, something to do with creativity, novelty and the uniqueness of everyday life. He says that an excessive focus on linguistic representation (note the similarities to Stephen’s rejection of the centrality of representation) has left us (as academics) unable to be receptive to our “spontaneous bodily reactions to events occuring around us” . . .. This is a highly philosophized notion of learning and practicing (based primarily on Bakhtin and Wittgenstein) that may be supportive of a connectivism theory and may refute my previous assertion that the theory is not mature.
Also; this is a comment I made to Stephen’s post this morning (9/10/08).
This post reminded me of many of the problem associated with higher ed today. *Tuition cost are too high! *The current structure is not conducive to supporting a life course that may include 4 or 5 different career paths, in knowledge intensive environments, where lifelong intellectual growth is expected! *If innovation is important to the economy, we must ramp up our intellectual infrastructure through community development and make it more accessible to all. Can current pedagogy address these issues? I think experimental pedagogy is needed, just like this course is offering.
I also indebted to Geof Cain’s comment that led me to think in pedagogical terms. These critiques and Stephen’s responses have a lot to do with pedagogy. Any learning theory will imply a pedagogy, but I think connectivism’s implies pedagogy even more than most because of the importance of the network aspects and because I think the theory and the course are really directed right at practice and an experimental pedagogy.
An update to a previous post. I mentioned Vygotsky’s idea of tools and concepts reflecting back on and changing the learner. I should have referred to these tools and concepts as artifacts. This word reflects Vygotsky’s approach better and is also consistent with Karl Poppers work on the 3 worlds, physical, mental and artifactual.