Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ How Education Works: Teaching, Technology, and Technique

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

By 'education' in this new and open access text Jon Dron means "the systematic transformation of people's skills, knowledge, and values", and as you may guess from that definition, it works by being a system. We (teachers) are "just one tiny part of a massively complex and only partially designed mechanism, a piece of a rich, entangled ecosystem filled with ways to support and engender learning."

But what lessons do we draw from that? We get a sense in the interesting chapter on elephants (as in 'in the room). Most of 'what works' in education doesn't work, and even though people are always learning, in educatoon we have to force them to learn. Why? Technologies are "complex entangled assemblies." And "it is too easy to focus on one part of this entangled assembly—a computer, say, or a pedagogical method—and to treat it as a synecdoche for the whole."

So much more to say about this work. I love the section on what technologies are. "To describe education as a technological system is anything but an attempt to reduce it to a set of mechanical rules." I think we could have conversations about how technology works, bantering about boundaries and path dependencies. I'm more interested in the patterns than the metaphor of soft and hard. That's enough to get us started, I think.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 19, 2024 8:45 p.m.

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