ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Emergent Learning ?!

Posted on: October 2, 2012

There are three ways that lead to this article:

  1. I “met” Jenny Mackness in the Change11 MOOC and was impressed by her interesting posts in “Jenny connected“.
  2. During the Change11 MOOC I got to know the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, a refereed e-journal which focussed on actual research concerning online learning.
  3. I “met” Jenny again this summer in Wenger’s BeTreat as online participant – and she mentioned her article: Roy Williams, Regina Karousou, Jenny Mackness Emergent learning and learning ecologies in Web 2.0“.

The expression “emergent learning” is a beautiful one and I would love to create rooms (virtual and real) where learning experiences could “emerge”. Therefore I want to discuss Jenny’s article which will be the topic of our next ZML-Leseclub (journal club) as well.

As online learning is partly demolishing the institutional framework of education (f.e. MOOCs) “actor and system” could / should “co-evolve” (p 40).

Key elements of emergent learning are (p 41):

  • interaction of people and resources,
  • where learners decide (process and learning destination) and
  • act self-organized but with constraints and structure
  • in networks.

As emergent learning is a rather different form of learning with respect to other forms it requires us to reflect our values (p 41) about learning processes (Are we open enough to let learners decide their own learning paths? Shouldn’t we bring our expertise actively in their learning process?? and so on).

The authors distinguish between prescriptive learning systems and emergent learning networks (fig. 1 p 43):

  • Prescriptive learning systems are predictable and can be controlled, they are hierarchical, closed and developed FOR users. The validation and self-correction is based on objective scientific methods and expert peer review.
  • Emergent learning networks are complex and adaptive (anpassungsfähig), learners are self-organized and collaborate, the networks are open. Validation and self-correction remains an open question.

Web2.0 tools provide good conditions for emergent social learning but this does not mean that emergent learning takes place (p 44).

Siemens (2009) defines emergent learning as “the outcome (understanding?) that arises from different agents interacting and producing unanticipated outcomes”. Emergent learning is unpredictable but retrospectively coherent. The learners interact frequently and openly, but within specific constraints (openess needs to be counterbalanced by constraints and inclusive values). Emergent learning is open and flexible and can adapt rapidly. (p 45)

Openess and constraints must be continuously monitored, managed and balanced. (p 47).

The term “serendipity” emerges in this context 🙂

Based on experiences of the open online course, CCK08, on Connectivism, the authors write “Most important of all, negative constraints must be put in place and communicated to the participants.  Secondly, the instructors or facilitators must dampen negative emergence and amplify positive emergence.”(p 50).

In the section “Emergent Curriculum” the authors mention a MA designed with an open syllabus in which learning emerges based on the assumption: “We believe that individuals often know what they need to become more effective, and have a keen sense of their own priorities and interests.” (p 51) – which is by the way also my belief !

In the conclusion the authors write that here is a need for a shift from a monolithic learning environment to a more pluralistic learning ecology with prescriptive and emergent modes of learning.

I’m looking forward to our discussion in the ZML-Leseclub – because I want to enable emergent learning to some extent in one of my courses in this semester.

2 Responses to "Emergent Learning ?!"

[…] prepearing my third session of ZML-Leseclub for Monday, I found it similarly interesting as Jutta in the ZML-Blog to dive into the concept of emerging learning and especially read Williams, Roy, Mackness, J. and […]

[…] diesmaliger ZM-Lesclub widmete sich dem Thema “Emergentes Lernen” – also Lernen, das auch einfach so entsteht, das zu unvorhergesehenen Ergebnissen […]

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