Lisa’s CCK08 Wordpress Blog

October 23, 2008

My Current Learning Design Map

Filed under: Visualisation,Week 7 — Lisa M Lane @ 3:27 pm
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This is an effort to map my own current learning design as I do it in both onsite and online classes, but with an emphasis on the concepts we’ve been learning this week:

Looking at this, I certainly do not allow a great deal of independence, but my system is integrated and answers the needs of assessing 150-200 students per semester (my regular load is 5 classes, which always start out full).

I have provided a conscious 70/30 balance between factual/content-based expressions of learning and thematic/analytical/higher-level expressions of learning. Students who get the factual stuff only get a C; to get higher requires expression of analysis.

I would like to develop a more connectivist, learner-centered design, perhaps for an honors course. My main problem is distributed assessment, so I am paying a lot of attention to the ideas this week.

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October 21, 2008

Lessons from Locke and Rousseau

Filed under: Responses,Week 7 — Lisa M Lane @ 9:49 pm
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I noted with interest the list shared with us this week of the many models of instructional design. Being a historian, I naturally clicked the history links first: A Hypertext History of Instructional Design by Sara McNeil, and A Brief History of Instructional Design by Douglas Leigh. The former began in 1870, and thus was of little use. Leigh, however, at least mentioned Greek philosophers (albeit out of order), Aquinas, and Locke:

The early contributions of thinkers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato regarding the cognitive basis of learning and memory was later expanded by the 13th century philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas who discussed the perception of teachings in terms of free will. Four hundred years later, John Locke advanced Aristotle’s notion of human’s initial state of mental blankness by proposing that almost all reason and knowledge must be gained from experience.

He then jumped to Dewey.

While I am not a historian of instructional design, this seemed brief and uninformed considering our emphasis on connectivism and this week’s topic. Even to the layman, it should be apparent that not mentioning Rousseau is doing a disservice to students in this course.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau vehemently disagreed with Locke’s theories on learning. Locke (1632-1704) had not only proposed that children come into this world tabula rosa, but that they are taught through reason and argumentation. Rousseau wrote that nature provided all the motivation and material a person needs, and that the role of the teacher was simply to provide appropriate experiences.

Each, of course, considered education to be important to creating a productive and participatory citizenry. We have these same goals today. In Locke’s view, those citizens were highly individualistic, where the government’s job was to preserve life, liberty and property. People were inherently rational, and religion would instill whatever ethical training was needed: “Teach him to get a mastery over his inclinations, and submit his appetite to reason.” Rousseau’s goal was a more egalitarian, participatory society, whose general will determined government. He distrusted reason. It was in the nature of people to learn, and “civilization” ruined natural proclivities: “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man.”

I have created a chart of Locke’s and Rousseau’s Instructional Design ideas. There are good ideas here whose implementation has been interrupted by the advent of industrialized education, which I consider to be the real culprit in poor instructional design. The perceived necessity of educating the multitudes, and the rise of mandatory education in the West, has created our current system of classrooms, divided by grade/age instead of learning from older and younger students. There are vestiges of the elitist systems of education, as in the use of the word “tutor” in English universities. Although open access to education has become the hallmark of democracy, the elitists had one thing right: the tutorial form of education (as opposed to group education) had a great deal to recommend it. It’s mass education that has caused rote learning, lack of differentiantion, standardized assessments. In many ways the theories of connectivist learning are designed as a tutorial system without a tutor, an effort for the individual to make connections through exploration (Rousseau) and develop rational understandings (Locke). In designing instruction, then, it might be useful to jump back to an era before industrialized education and examine the existing models.

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