This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Meta-neural social learning and technology

While completing coursework for spring semester and considering week 1 questions from the ocTEL MOOC ( I find myself considering the social aspects of MOOCs, how social development enhances learning, and how the brain works.  One course asked us to consider how the brain learns, and whether or not we subscribe to the notion that learning can be reduced to chemical and neurological processes.  Another topic for the same course is to reflect on our experiences throughout the term in that course; reflection on the process of reflecting on how adults learn and how it worked for myself.  Yet another topic in the same course is evaluating cognitive apprenticeships.  In another course we have been exploring the foundations of educational technology, and as part of the foundation, exactly what educational technology is and how it fits into learning.  A third course has been focusing on research, and I was using a subset of what may become a dissertation topic; learning in online asynchronous discussion boards.

This week's ocTEL topic examines technology enhanced learning concepts and methods.  We are asked to consider, among other topics, the introduction of peer instruction and the socialization of learning (or social situations begetting learning).  These threads all tangle around each other; it could be that it's all on my mind right now during the closure of this semester, or it could be that they are all related.

I related reducing learning to neural and chemical processes to examining matter; if one looks closely enough, everything can be reduced to quanta of energy.  Yet these quanta combine in infinite combinations to make up every part of our universe.  In essence, when the microscope lens is powerful enough, the parts that make up a rose are the same that make up a star; it's the combinations that differ, and the subjective interpretation of cognitive minds.

Sound waves moving through the medium of air can be interpreted as a symphony or a jackhammer.  The makeup of sound waves is identical, but the interpretation makes the difference.  In much the same way, different observers will interpret modern jazz and punk rock differently, yet both are made up of sound waves in a medium.

In the end, does it really matter at that level of scrutiny how learning occurs?  Only if what we learn from the scrutiny can help design more effective instruction.

#ocTEL #tel #edtech #adult_learning #learning

Doctoral student in Adult and Online Learning; IT Director; Director of Distance Learning and Educational Technology.

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