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Priska Schoenborn & Vivian Neal Educational Development Directorate of Teaching and Learning University of Plymouth, UK

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Presentation on theme: "Priska Schoenborn & Vivian Neal Educational Development Directorate of Teaching and Learning University of Plymouth, UK"— Presentation transcript:

1 Priska Schoenborn & Vivian Neal Educational Development Directorate of Teaching and Learning University of Plymouth, UK (0) /12 Chaotic Learning: a new learning theory?

2 Outline 1.What was my inspiration? 2.What is chaotic learning? 3.What are the implications for education? 4.What is the relevance to eLearning? 5.What are the characteristics of good design for chaotic learning materials/methods? 6.What do we assess and how?

3 What was my inspiration? The young who have grown up using the Internet have developed a particular learning style, one which is chaotic and non-linear with a central play theme (Lee, 2000) Many academic staff want to teach as they have been taught (Littlejohn et al, 1999) Gap between new generation of students and existing learning styles Relates to Prenskys idea of digital natives and digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001)

4 What is Chaotic Learning? Doll (1993) sees chaos theory as central to future curriculum development Bloom (2001) discusses a model of curriculum that can support learning as a chaotic and complex system Increasingly, the relationship between chaos, complexity and the curriculum are being explored and considered

5 What is Chaos Theory? Chaos, according to the dictionary is disorder and confusion Chaos theory is the study of nonlinear dynamic systems and was first pioneered by Lorenz in 1963 Chaos theories tend to be concerned with unpredictability and embedded or emergent patterns in seemingly chaotic or random phenomena (Bloom, 2001)

6 What is Complexity Theory? Bloom (2001) describes it as being concerned with the complex relations within (chaotic) systems and the notion of self-generating/self- maintaining systems The world is irreducibly complex, rather than deterministic and predictable, and the task before us is no longer to identify the simple elements of reality and their interactions which underlie complex appearances, but to work out how to study complexity in its own right (Gare, 2000)

7 Chaotic Learning: a working definition (Playful, exploratory and collaborative) learning that takes place within a system which is complex and nonlinear, whose outcome will be unpredictable and cannot be determined in advance, but whose whole may be greater than the sum of its parts

8 Implications for Education We can predict certain events, we cannot predict the whole content or the outcome (Bloom, 2001) Many young people provided with access to the Web adopt learning approaches consistent with complexity theory (Phelps, 2003). Their learning is naturally nonlinear, mirroring the structure of the Web It could be argued that less tutor control be introduced to the classroom. Students may be allowed greater flexibility and control, ownership and influence over content and process

9 Relevance to eLearning Online learning settings should be task-based and centred on open-ended and ill-structured activities based on constructivist thinking and authentic contexts (Oliver, 2001) The Web seems the ideal medium for students to construct complex knowledge bases (Jonassen et al, 1999) The increased use and emphasis on C&IT may provide a platform for the development of a pedagogy for the new millennium (Littlejohn et al, 1999)

10 Silent Discussion (5 minutes) In your opinion, what are the characteristics of good design for chaotic learning environments?

11 And finally... If the exact ways in which learning is manifested are unpredictable and if students develop complex understanding... What do we assess and how? How can we devise a holistic model for assessing students?

12 Thank you for your participation!

13 Sources Bloom, J.W. (2001) Chaotic and complex systems in childrens thinking and learning. Paper presented to Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, Washington.[online] Doll, W.E. Jr. (1993) A Post-Modern Perspective on Curriculum. New York and London: Teachers College Press. Gare, A. (2000). Systems theory and complexity theory. Democracy and Nature, 6(3), Jonassen, D.H., Peck, K.L., and Wilson, B.G. (1999) Learning with Technology: A Constructivist perspective. Columbus, OH: Prentice Hall. Laurrillard, D. (2001) Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies. 2 nd Edition. London: Routledge/Farmer. Lee, M. (2000) Chaotic Learning: The Learning Style of the Net Generation?. [online] Littlejohn, A.H. and Stefani, A. J. (1999) Effective use of communication and information technology: bridging the skills gap. ALT-J: Association for Learning Technology Journal, 7(2), Lissack, M. (1999) Complexity: the Science, its Vocabulary and its Relation to Organisations. Emergence, 1(1), Oliver, R. (2001) Developing e-learning environments that support knowledge construction in higher education. [online] Phelps, R. (2003). Developing online from simplicity toward complexity: going with the flow of non-linear learning. Paper presented at the NAWeb 2003: The Web-based Learning Conference, Frederickton, NB, Canada. Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5). MCB University Press. Roscoe, J. (2002) The language of e-learning. [online] Schank, R. (2002). The Rise of the Virtual University. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Volume 3(1), pp Information Age Publishing Inc. Wheeler, S., Kelly, P. and Gale, K. (2005) The influence of online problem-based learning on teachers professional practice and identity. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, 13(2),


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