Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Deep Problems with Our Tools - e-Learning, Social Learning, etc.

I am often skeptical about the many types of learning tools, e.g. social networking, e-learning, LMS, rapid e-learning, even PowerPoint, etc.

Matthew Crawford wrote an interesting article on "The Limits of Neuro-Talk", The New Atlantis.

Crawford cites:

"If he be a man engaged in any important inquiry, he must have a method, and he will be under a strong and constant temptation to make a metaphysics out of his method, that is, to suppose the universe ultimately of such a sort that his method must be appropriate and successful.
—E. A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (1925)"

The article essentially questions the fallacy that many earnest scientists fall into thinking that their method defines their patients or the areas of their study.

In the adoption of tools and technologies in learning and training, many pundits fall victim to the same fallacy. Some examples are:

1. Learning Styles - that people can be categorized into some buckets on learning styles.

2. PLE - Personal Learning Environment, the new idea that people must now master their own learning as a consequence or as enabled by abundance of open learning technologies.

I appreciate why we need to categorize people. There is, however, a temptation to make our "categorization tool" or method become the standard. We consequently lose our bearing and insist that people fit our models.

I suggest, we encourage some skepticism in our use of tools. Not use it as the end result.

Related idea: "If You Believe in Computers Too Much, You Lose Touch with Reality." -- "Joseph Weizenbaum: An Appreciation" - Inventor of Eliza

Ray Jimenez, PhD
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"