Monday, April 11, 2011

27. Cybernetics and Teaching

Cybernetic Circularity in Teaching and Learning
Joy Murray, University of Sidney
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
2006, Volume 18, Number 3, 215-221

This is an older article and it deals directly with teaching and learning and possibly less directly with actual online learning. However, the idea of Cybernetics and teaching and learning somehow seems to connect to the design and planning that are so directly related to online learning. Therefore I add below a few elements of the article that may come in handy when specific questions will be raised from the tools suggested for adaptation purposes.

  1. Cybernetics is related to the idea of circularity, control, communication and feedback. All elements that must be used and well planned around in online design.
  2. A useful quote about the Second Order of Cybernetics is worth mentioning from the article:
    " In recognizing that by communicating with others in a system we negotiate and constitute meaning, and that by being of the system we change and are changes by it, we are inevitably led towards the idea that there is no pre-existing reality, but that we create this world of ours by living in it." (page 216).
    This deeply philosophical statement speaks to the fact that online design can facilitate a certain communication system within a course or a unit, but that participants who partake the learning through that system, become active members of the knowledge building process that such system facilitates.
  3. Systems in cybernetics can be conceived as a whole and its parts or a system and its environment. Both perspectives could be useful for adaptation purposes.
  4. The importance of noticing the difference. The observer has an important role.
  5. Circularity implies change - and learning environment constantly change.
  6. Teaching can contribute to learners' survival and changing processes. The author invites us to ponder on the idea that a teacher does not control a communication environment such as the learning environment with students, but aims at understanding the context and reasons through which a response or set of responses arise from.
  7. Another essential consideration and quote that directly connects to the conversation in this blog about online designs:
    " If learning is triggered by the environment and we connect with the environment in idiosyncratic ways, then it is essential to provide a wide range of potential "triggers" as possible and many ways of connecting with the learning environment." (Pagew 219)
    This directly speaks to the open and diverse pathways that should be set in online environments to build an atmosphere as comprehensive as possible for learners to make connection with the learning.
  8. Reflection is definitely one such apporach.

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