12.0480 e-learning; masterly restraint

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 16:27:38 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 480.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca> (60)
Subject: e-learning

[2] From: <cbf@socrates.Berkeley.EDU> (11)
Subject: Re: 12.0467 responses on masterly restraint

Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 14:46:26 +0000
From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: e-learning

Willard and Wendell,

I was wondering if the two of you were not conspiring under the aegis
of the tutelary spirits of serendipity to bring discussions of real
learning into the ambit of back to basics.

If I seem to be twisting the two threads in some sort of impromptu
dialectic, it is because I think that combining the twin issues of
learning and basics is a step in highlighting the pedagogical
paradox of fostering change in in students by an appeal to unchanging
(or at least stable) givens (including the Heraclitan flux). This is
all perhaps a convolutied way of stating that "real learning" is in my books
(codex and digital) reciprocal. The student becomes aware that the
teacher is a co-explorer. Of course this tends to favour and equation
of "real learning" with metacognition.

(Digression: Note that the "product" here is a relation
between people and not necessarily a quantity of knowledge.
Learning outcomes can also be measured by the degree of
portability and applicability of the knowledge produced.)

Learning is often gauged by a before/after measure that looks for the
emergence of novelty. However, a part of learning may be habit
formation, i.e. a comfortable set of routines that create a space and
time for certain types of cognitive activity. Learning may also be
about continuation.

I will stop toying with the commonplace of change and continuity and
trying reader patiance and allow me to redirect attention to :

Harold Cliff Chaput in a text entitled "Symbol Emergence & Symbol
Grounding" in a section called "The Untapped Senses" offers a summary
of a stage theory of child development. Chaput refers to contemporary
developmental psychology. He doesn't name a source (or a particular
school). Allow me to quote his summary:

Contemporary developmental psychology talks about four change
processes that occur as a child matures: automatization,
encoding, generalization, and strategy construction.
<i>Automatization</i> is the process of becoming more
efficient in thought and aciton, thus freeing up the brain for
more activity. <i>Encoding</i> is internally representing
objects and events in terms of set of features.
<i>Generalization</i> is the process of mapping known
encodings to new relations. Finally <i>strategy
construction</i> uses the previous three to generate rules to
adapt to task demands.

Unfortunately, Chaput does not provide HTML fragment identifiers to
either his sub-sections or his paragraphs.

Now I wonder about the automatic in distance learning. How are the
providers of both instruction and education able to play with this
aspect of learning. For example, a group that meets regularly
face-to-face can be invited to change its seating arrangement in order
to develop a fresh perspective on the group dynamic. Of course, some
pedagogues especially in language learning situations insist that
students shift the arrangement with every meeting in order to maximize
interlocutor interaction. How could one accomplish something like this in
computer-mediated communication situations?

Finally, whether the setting is electronic or not, how does the
argument about outcomes shift if a paradigm of relearning (not
necessarily Platonic remembering) is the point of departure. What I
mean is to what degree do learning paths recycle the four stages or
steps of child maturation? It seems to be a typology designed to
challenge the manual/intellectual division of labour and learning.

Recursively relearning the real,


Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 14:47:25 +0000
From: "by way of Humanist <humanist@kcl.ac.uk>" <cbf@socrates.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Re: 12.0467 responses on masterly restraint

Or, as Robert Frost, put it, in discussing blank verse, "It's like playing
tennis without a net." (And, no, I don't ahve the source for the

Charles Faulhaber Department of Spanish UC Berkeley, CA 94720-2590
(510) 642-3781 FAX (510) 642-7589 cbf@socrates.berkeley.edu

On Mon, 1 Mar 1999, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 467.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> <http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/>
> <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>
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