Supporting The Understanding Of Complex Natural Systems With Emergent Technologies

Year: 2015

Author: Oberprieler, Kerston, Reynolds, Eva, Rittner, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Understood as an expansive activity, learning is about acquiring the tools of the learner’s socio-cultural context or what Vygotsky described as growing into the intellectual life of those around them. The use of those tools though, only makes sense when used for activity, that is the interaction between the learner and their context. In this formation, learning is not an isolated product or performance, but rather is the integration of concept, learner, and their community. Such ecological understandings of learning have been extended in recent years with work in enacted and embodied cognition stressing the connection between thought and action. This work suggests that expertise lies not only within the human mind but within mind-body-world systems, and that the cognitive processes involved in doing work, in becoming expert at work, and in evolving work practices are in fact the same practices.
This symposium draws together examples of projects that work with technology to enhance an expansive approach to learning, and explores ways in which the approaches might be transferred from these projects to other learning contexts. The first paper explores the connections between current research in ecological cognition and empirical work in education around the concept of significance. It will argue that learning is significant when the learner discerns the place of the new learning within a relevant mind-body-world system.
The symposium will then take a practical turn with a paper providing an account of the ‘design jam’ process used in an multi-year project on the use of Augmented Reality (AR) in higher education; a paper examining the development of a 3D printing challenge run across the country by Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre; and a paper analysing a learning activity that emerged from the design jam process that uses the 3D printing and AR technologies together. A focus in this set of papers will be the use of design-based research methods to develop design principles for transferring what is learned in these examples from ‘innovation labs’ to other educational settings.
The concluding paper develops a model for the use of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) within a design-based research process. It will do so with reference to a project on the gamification of workplace learning in ways that transform the activity as opposed to simply overlaying the old activities with new signifiers.