Week 6, Unit 5 reading and discussion on theory

This week we continued our development and knowledge of learning theory as we read the following articles.

Seeley, et al on Situated Cognition

J Kolodner on the Learning Sciences

C Hoadly on Community of PracticeCHAP12HOADLEY

Video from MIT on Anthropology

As we watched and read, we were asked to think about the following questions:

1. What are anthropology and ethnography? Why did cognitivist educational researchers begin to find it necessary to incorporate elements from these studies into their studies (and to make cognitive science “scruffy”)?

2. In “The Learning Sciences: Past, Present, and Future,” Janet Kolodner tells a kind of “story” about the emergence of the “Learning Sciences” as a field. What does her account indicate about the way fields and research agendas change and re-form?

3. What is a community of practice and why is it important to teaching and learning?

4. What do Seely Brown, Collins & Duguid define as being “indexical” language, and why might it be so important in teaching and learning?

Here is my initial response:

As I read the articles and watched the videos, certain ideas jumped out at me.

First, I see that learning theories evolve and emerge, and both anthropology and ethnography  have had some influence as both are concerned with the study of people in terms of culture and society.  In particular, anthropology studies how groups of people apply knowledge to solve human problems. (http://www.aaanet.org/about/whatisanthropology.cfm)

In terms of developing learning theory, culture plays an impact on constructivist learning theory, and newer ideas including situated learning and communities of practice.

As I read the article by Kolodner, I couldn’t help but think, the evolution of Learning Science is a microcosm for a community of practice.  The emergence and growth of the field and journal , mirrors how a community of practice works together.  One thing I found interesting is the distinction between learning sciences (LS) and Instructional design systems (ISD).  I see the two as complementary.  The role of ISD is to integrate sound theory from LS that has been tested , and shown to be an effective tool for learning.

Lastly, the article by Seeley, et al was fascinating to me.  They set forth that learning is situated and culturally dependent.  I see a  lot of overlap w/ constructivism as constructivism asserts that “learning is subjective…it is constructed through discovery, interactions …with others, society.’ (Larson & Lockee p 77).    It is how people use the knowledge in context rather than the knowledge by itself that makes for true learning.  I thought there were some excellent examples of how learning is situated from the acquisition of language to developing math skills.  I like that emphasis is on the process (something I always tell my physics classes), and that there is more than one way to solve a problem.

 

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