Saturday, 26 June 2010

Learning activity, widgets and cybernetics

The idea of 'designing activity' for learning has almost become an aspect of 'political correctness' in teaching. What does it mean? How might cybernetics help us to understand the concept of 'learning activity', or even activity in general?

One way of looking at it is the simple equation that relates one teacher to many students. Activity through technology at least can serve to amplify the variety of the teacher by providing instructions to coordinate students through self-organising behaviour. But I wonder if there's more to it than that...

The different ways of managing the variety between teachers and students 'feel' fundamentally different from a student's perspective. The 'student attenuation' of the sage on the stage can (but of course not always) dis-empower students preventing them from challenging authority. The teacher as co-learner model is clearly different, giving students more opportunity to make a contribution, but could also dis-empower if students are over-whelmed with variety.

Positioning theory might tell us something about what this 'empowering' is and how activity can play a role. The interesting question for e-learning is the role that coordination of technologies can play in coordinating activity. It's here, I think, that the Widget integration into VLEs is most interesting...

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