Steps to complex learning

The subject of this chapter, ten steps to complex learning (van Merrienboer & Kirschner,2007), was recently published as a practical and modified version of the four-component instructional design (4C-ID) model originally posited by van Merrienboer in 1997. These ten steps are mainly prescriptive and aim to provide a practicable version of the 4C-ID model for teachers, domain experts involved in educational or training design, and less experienced instructional designers. The model described here will typically be used to develop educational or training programs, which can have a duration ranging from several weeks to several years, aimed at the acquisition of complex cognitive skills (in this chapter referred to as complex learning).

Complex learning is the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes; coordinating qualitatively different constituent skills, and often transferring what was learned in school or training to daily life and work.


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Exploring tensions in Knowledge Networks: On social capital, actor-network theory and sociologies of the south

Knowledge networks have been discussed as mechanisms that facilitate access to resources and information. They are noted as organizations that promote the generation of new contacts and interactions between actors in order to produce knowledge that increases the speed and reliability of communication. They are also understood as platforms that encourage learning and knowledge coordination in order to advance technoscientific innovation processes. Despite these benefits, knowledge networks can engender areas of tension. The article examines the tensions in knowledge networks by analysing the theoretical convergences and divergences between social capital insights, actor-network theory and several contributions from the sociologies of the south. The following four categories are discussed: (1) hierarchy production; (2) blockages to the access to resources; (3) the spatialization of networks; and (4) the different ways of understanding power. The latter offer opportunities to make the tensions in knowledge networks visible. The article proposes initiating a discussion focused on the dynamic movement of asymmetries to analyse knowledge networks between the global North and the global South as entities that are in a process of constant negotiation.


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Altruism: New perspectives of research in sociology of morality

Since coined by Comte, altruism has become one of the most controversial concepts in social and behavioral sciences, although altruistic behavior and related topics have been successfully studied within a number of fields. Oddly, while the theme of altruism was of primary significance in classical sociology of morality, modern sociology seems to have relatively little interest in studying altruism and altruistic behavior (although there are some exceptions) and the field is largely dominated by other social and behavioral sciences. The article aims at reconsidering altruism as a concept and as an area of research in sociology of morality by reviewing the major concepts of altruism in classical sociology and modern behavioral sciences. The article argues that, although for the ‘new’ sociology of morality it is necessary to take into account behavioral and psychological perspectives, a promising sociological approach to the study of altruism in different social contexts can be based on renewing the classical focus on the normative components of moral behavior.


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Reading ‘Race’ in Bourdieu? Examining Black Cultural Capital

This article extends Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital in relation to ‘race’ and ethnicity by exploring the significance of black cultural capital among middle class black Caribbean young people in a large state school in south London. Black cultural capital is here defined as the appropriation of middle class values by black ethnics. Based on a 14-month-long ethnography, with specific attention to three focus group and 13 in-depth interviews with middle class black Caribbean young people, this piece outlines the benefits of and backlash to black cultural capital that students encounter from white middle class teachers for deploying black middle class tastes and styles in the classroom. The findings suggest that while black middle class pupils draw on black cultural capital to access advantages in formal school settings, they are also invested in challenging the terms of class privilege that marginalise the black working classes.


Posted in Bourdieu, Cultural capital, Race | Tagged , ,

The Cognitive Science of Studying: Rereading vs. Retrieval

I’ll just come out and say it: students don’t know how to study. When students are asked how they study the response is often something along these lines:

Wait until the night before the test
Find my notes and textbook
Read/reread notes and textbook
Highlight stuff

Repeat until I can’t stay awake any longer or distraction gets the best of me

There are several problems with this approach. In the following, I have outlined our students’ problematic practices and compared them to what current research says they should be doing instead.


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Embodied cognition and STEM learning

Embodied learning approaches emphasize the use of action to support pedagogical goals. A specific version of embodied learning posits an action-to-abstraction transition supported by gesture, sketching, and analogical mapping. These tools seem to have special promise for bolstering learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, but existing efforts need further theoretical and empirical development. The topical collection in Cognitive Research: Principles includes articles aiming to formalize and test the effectiveness of embodied learning in STEM. The collection provides guideposts, staking out the terrain that should be surveyed before larger-scale efforts are undertaken. This introduction provides a broader context concerning mechanisms that can support embodied learning and make it especially well suited to the STEM disciplines.


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Happiness is a Compass, Not a Destination

I’ve recently discovered a powerful set of ideas concerning happiness. More importantly, by acting in accordance with these ideas I’ve brought more happiness into my life than ever before. Given we all seek happiness— now more than ever — I feel it’s my duty to spread these ideas as widely as possible. But to do so I must first introduce our flawed but brilliant hero, Sisyphus, as his story serves to illuminate both the nature of happiness and how we may bring more of it into our lives.

Most are familiar with the story of Sisyphus. As the parable goes, the Gods of Olympus punished Sisyphus for using his capable mind and technological prowess to undermine their dominion over humanity. Less admirable was the pleasure Sisyphus took in building with one hand while using the other to give the Gods the middle finger. In this way our would-be hero found himself condemned to forever push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom once he’d finished the task, beginning the cycle anew. The implication being — typically — that most human activities resemble such eternal toil: we are damned to inescapable Sisyphean struggle in this mortal realm.


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Can Microbes Encourage Altruism?

If gut bacteria can sway their hosts to be selfless, it could answer a riddle that goes back to Darwin. Evolutionary theorists have puzzled over such altruistic behaviors, particularly among unrelated creatures, because selfishness often seems like a better survival strategy in the context of natural selection. A new theory suggests that parasites might tip the odds in favor of host altruism for their own gain.

Parasites are among nature’s most skillful manipulators — and one of their specialties is making hosts perform reckless acts of irrational self-harm. There’s Toxoplasma gondii, which drives mice to seek out cats eager to eat them, and the liver fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum, which motivates ants to climb blades of grass, exposing them to cows and sheep hungry for a snack. There’s Spinochordodes tellinii, the hairworm that compels crickets to drown themselves so the worm can access the water it needs to breed. The hosts’ self-sacrifice gains them nothing but serves the parasites’ hidden agenda, enabling them to complete their own life cycle.


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Collective action and anonymity – innovation in the data economy

Data is different from other assets like gold and oil in that almost all of us, as individuals, generate it. Giving us more control over our own data will stimulate innovation, but realising the full potential will also involve collective action and anonymisation.

We should be empowered to control our own data. This is due to our part in its creation, our right to privacy for our personal information, the growing likelihood that this data will be processed in ways that affect us, but also the economic and social good that can be realised from it.

There are mechanisms to encourage this in the impending European General Directive on Data Protection (GDPR). This contains a right to data portability for individuals’ data.[1] Although part of data protection legislation, this also has the objective of stimulating competition and innovation.


Posted in Data, Data driven, Innovation | Tagged , ,

Design Thinking to Ethical Technological Innovation

There is growing interest and importance for responsible research and innovation (RRI) among academic scholars and policy makers, especially, in relation to emerging technologies such as nanotechnology. It is also to be noted that, although the design thinking approach has been around since 1960s, there is renewed interest in this approach to innovation with an increasing number of related publications over the last couple of decades. Furthermore, it is currently introduced in a number of schools and community projects. However, there is a gap in bridging design thinking approach to RRI and this chapter attempts to address this need.

This chapter aims to show that design thinking approach is potentially conducive to ethical (responsible) technological innovation especially within emerging and converging technologies, due to its emphasis on human-centered design and other core attributes such as empathy – although it poses many challenges to implement.


Posted in Design thinking, Ethics, Technological change | Tagged , ,