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Old 09-02-2007, 05:20 AM   #3
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"What are the implications for learning institutions in this new world where choice and customization seem to prevail? Equally important, what are the implications of not addressing changes in the way young people learn and interact? Given the alarmingly high number of high school and college Dropouts, we have to wonder if the current institutions of learning are really serving their students' needs and interests. We continue to push old, uniform, and increasingly outdated educational products on young learners at our--and their--peril."

Taken rhetorically, the question makes an all together moot point. If one has to be convinced that collaboration and individually paced arcs of understanding with multiple modes/opportunities for reflection and response are the keys to learning, they are already philosophically and professionally behind, rendering their well-intentioned to serve humanity ineffectual. The Western body academic is fraught with verbal and mathematico-logical instructional hegemonies infused with elitist symbolism--meritocracies that service new-world economies and underserve learners through systemic ignorance of expressive proclivities incompatible with productivity and tradition, all under hidden agendas of caste filtering. HASTAC is too gentle in its textual and monetary prod of education reform via technology.

I do not think that kids are changing the way that they learn, it is the frequency of social initiation (higher-- eg. instant messages) and density of communications (lower-- eg. transmission length, in digital units, limited by bandwidth, interface ergonomics, and human signal processing) that has changed. Adolescents are wired for physical and emotional risk in pursuit of new experiences. The opportunity for privileged* youth to take expressive risks has increased exponentially in the past twenty years. This cultural shift is the key to modern education reform. Every time a young mind reaches for their mobile phone or touches a screen, they are compensating for the lack of validated, personal and peer-group expression in today's classrooms.

I define learning as habitual environmental foraging. One's learning style can be thought of as a group of phyllogenetically, ontogenetically and environmentally determined perceptual and processing sensitivities to sensory landscapes. As we learn more about our physical environments, we develop more complex and expressive lexicons-- from notches on wolf bones to brand identities.

Yes, our minds are evolving and we are increasingly capable of transposing/interchanging the agents, objects, and actions of our perceptions. Each one an actor for the other, as the object-- scribbled letters on a page may represent an agent, one's mother, or as the agent-- our mother may represent an action, a smothering hug. As for our emotions, I believe they are also objects-- biochemical tags on our memories-- the neurological fingerprints of our experience. The sheer mass and structural complexities our neocortex, and its tenuously studied connections to our more primal brains and proximal nerve endings, is an evolutionary adaptation to closely observing other humans. Not much has changed in that humans seek experiences of sociostatic value. We have evolved to connect with others to guarantee our own survival. Yet, in the evolutionary tensions of resource access within our growing population densities, we are slowly adapting our behaviors and environments to suit the needs of larger immediate social groups-- everyday experience and scientific observations clashing with and rewiring the innate quantifications of survival. Our tool of choice, a computer network, is the digital analogue to the human mind.

The seemingly gross indecency of the digital divide is an extension of shelter-quality instability and famine, when the environmental foraging of homeostatic value factors is circumscribed by struggles of power and identity. "Access to technology" is currently a function of social geography... a stoichiastic measurement with factors of network distribution (where infrastructure is developed and maintained by individuals, corporate entities and institutions for public/private use), and access to nodes on a network via one's social network (psycho-physical distance/relationships that facilitate consistent, weekly aggregate periods of interfacing with technology, with varying degrees of participant** experience and attentional engagement to the scientific principles that may describe such cultural artifacts and phenomena).

This question posed above implies that choice and customization options are de facto for Millenial youth. Hopefully, if they connect just enough, and in the right ways, that choice will be distributed with more local and global equity, across populations historically denied resources and compassionate education.

*Privileged in comparison to the number of youth without readily accessible technologies and education.

**By participant, I include both human, computer, and hybridic programmer thereof.


Development as Freedom, Indentity & Power(?) Amartya Sen
Neurobiology of Learning, John Schumann (msp?)
Frontiers of Justice, Martha Nussbaum
Phenomenology of Perception, ? forgot name
possibilities, possibilities

Last edited by tapanuli : 09-02-2007 at 05:26 AM. Reason: clarity/spellling
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