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February 15, 2011 / mrespiers

Week 3 – ‘Knowledge 2.0-Tensions and Challenges’

My thoughts and reading were inspired by Nina Bonderup Dohn this week and from a practical teaching and learning point of view the ideas really hit home some of the issues we face particularly in the UK right now with the ‘tensions and challenges’ that Gove presents us with.

Ok, let me try and get some things straight in my head from a theoretical point of view first and then try and apply some of them.

Ontology:
what exists in a world
Epistemology:
how we know what we know
Teleology:
the reasons why things are as they are
(Aristotle)

Teleology is about explaining something with reference to an end purpose. From the Greek ‘telos’ meaning “end” and ‘logos’ meaning “reason”.
or applied to education…..
one of the ‘tensions’ referred to is that education is traditionally about an ‘extrinsic finality’ (getting a certificate, getting a grade, getting a job, getting into university, getting praised etc) and Web 2.0 practices are about ‘intrinsic finality’ (communicating for the sake of it, writing a blog that nobody will read! etc)
So traditional educational competence is seen, ontologically, as a thing that can be possessed, acquired and passed on whereas Web 2.0 competence:

“…first and foremost is ‘competence in participating’.”
Nina Bonderup Dohn – 2008, pg 650, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Networked Learning

Obviously, people use Web 2.0 tools for certain external purposes and many learn for the sake of it but, the idea is that there is a tension between different notions of ‘purpose’ and different conceptions of what knowledge is or should be.

So, as a teacher how do I marry these things together? How do I work within a system that focuses on the extrinsic (league tables, SATs etc) whilst preparing the students for a world in which the intrinsic Web 2.0 skills becomes more and more important?

Nina Bonderup Dohn highlights some key ‘tensions and challenges’ such as traditional educational practice viewing collaboration as cheating whereas collaboration is seen as an integral part of Web 2.0 practice. This links in well with another area of ‘tension’ – evaluation. What is to be evaluated? How and who by? This is an area that I will return to in a later post as it so vast and controversial.

In short, much of this comes down to, what is the point of education? and many answers, ideas and discussions are taking place all the time in classrooms all over the world. Many innovative and thoughful educators are challenging the status quo and using the ubiquitous technology to engage and motivate their students.

Denmark has already trialled exams in which students can use the internet (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8341886.stm) and if you are not sure where to start I can highly recommend searching #edtech on twitter or following some of the contributors to http://purposed.org.uk/

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7 Comments

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  1. Doug Belshaw / Feb 15 2011 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the contribution! (and nice use of one of the posters there…)

    Just to point out that teleology means something *slightly* different from the way you approach it here. If something has a ‘teleological’ explanation reference is being made to the fact that there are end points/final causes towards which we can work. It’s subtle, but important:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

    Some, for example, may argue that education is non-teleological, that there *is* no end point towards which we can reach (or, for that matter, even tend). I wouldn’t usually comment on such technicalities, but I’ve just written a post on why everyone should learn History and Philosophy… 😉

    • mrespiers / Feb 17 2011 2:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment Doug, I really appreciate it as I am new to blogging and to Teleology.

      Bonderup Dohn refers to it as ‘the internality (of Web 2.0 practices) versus the externality (of traditional educational practices) of their basic telos

      So, let me check that I have got this right now – I suggested that traditional educational systems and Web 2.0 practices represented different teleogical approaches but what I should’ve said was that Web 2.0 practices are non-teleological and that traditional education practices are teleogical because the former has a final cause to work towards in the sense of exam results etc and the latter does not have a specific end point to work towards (although it can be used for specific goals)?

      Obviously, as you pointed out, education can be seen as non-teleogical in a wider sense but ‘the system’ makes it teleogical?

  2. Prathap / Mar 1 2011 12:38 am

    That’s the million dollar question, Eugene – What’s the point of education? To be precise, what is formal education trying to achieve? I think its very subjective and each person will have an opinion towards this.

  3. mrespiers / Mar 9 2011 11:45 am

    Thanks for the reply Prathap but, what is your opinion? Maybe you could add it to the discussion for #purposed on twitter.

  4. Prathap / Mar 14 2011 10:26 am

    In my opinion, education should be an enabler – To empower the students to find and use the knowledge whenever they want. While the core curriculum of Science, Maths, Literature and Arts are still relevant, and will always be, my vision for education would be to enable the students see beyond grades and qualifications for these subjects and put them to use to create value to the world.

    P.S. I love connectivism, by the way.

    • mrespiers / Mar 14 2011 12:12 pm

      I like the idea of education as an enabler and for empowerment. I don’t think we do it very well yet. We enable half our students to get ‘good’ GCSEs and to go onto to college or university but what about the rest? So I agree with you that we need to move beyond grades etc and even perhaps beyond our ‘safe’ and dated idea of discrete subjects. Why not teach Connectivism and Creativity?

      • Prathap / Mar 23 2011 11:17 pm

        Very true, Eugene. In fact, I have written about connectivism and the possibility to include that at the policy level here – http://www.elearningmag.info/?p=28 , albeit from the perspective of Schools in India. But am it could apply to the UK as well.

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