Editors’ note: We are pleased to publish this insightful opinion article by Dr. Piet Kommers, Ph.D. In response to an invitation by the Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association, Dr. Piet Kommers delivers his thoughts on some phenomena he has observed drung his 30 year involvement with media in education. Some of the questions Dr. Kommers tries to address are: How to teach contemporary learners who refuse to be pruned into “nice shapes” like some bonsai tree? What can social media bring to education? Who will be the first to excel in converting social networks into education networks – students or teachers? If you would like to continue the discussion, please submit your own article on the topic (see the Editorial Policies page on this portal for submission requirements). If you would like to comment on the discussion, please click on the “leave a comment” link at the bottom of the article to submit your peer commentary. We welcome your professional opinions on the article.
Author’s bio: Dr. Piet Kommers is Associate Professor at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. His research interests are in the areas of media, learning and visual communication. Dr. Kommers was the scientific director of NATO’s Advanced Research Workshop on “Cognitive Technologies” in 1989. Since 1990 he has been increasingly involved in a broad range of European based research projects in media supported and continued learning. His role in initiatives related to higher education in Eastern Europe led to his UNESCO chair, and was followed by the award of a honorary doctorship by Capital Normal University in Beijing, China in 2000. In 2005-2007 he was involved in mobile teaching and learning with the Fontys University of Applied Sciences. He is an adjunct professor in the faculty of computer science in Joensuu University (Finland) and an advisor to the Ministry of Education of Singapore. Dr. Kommers’ publications include six books and more than fifty conference papers and journal articles. He has supervised twenty-four doctoral students and more than 80 master’s projects. Dr. Kommers can be reached at P.A.M.Kommers@utwente.nl.
Patrick Blessinger & Krassie Petrova
In the late seventies social scientists were focused predominantly on making education more democratic and more emancipatory. It is interesting to observe that so far almost all educational methods have ended in creating tools for the learner, ultimately helping build a learning attitude. An example is presented by the so-called “Intelligent Instructional Systems” that were based upon models of expert knowledge and models of the initial student knowledge.
However, the paradigm of optimizing teaching by reconciling the expert-novice gap was left behind as we found out that learning is not a simple extrapolation of the previous learning of experts. What was kept though was the notion of meta cognitive representation: “What do we know about what we know?” and “What are the elegant and transparent representations that may trigger our imagination about what could be learnt next?”
Conceptual schemes became the default format for negotiations among learners, and between learners and teachers. Concept mapping became even a candidate for an alternative assessment method. In my book Cognitive Support for Learning, the concept-mapping paradigm was elevated to the level of “learning attitude”: Becoming aware of one’s conceptual boundaries and of cross-disciplinary links provides the learner with a scaffold to help articulate their intuition. Somewhat similarly we saw simulations and modeling tools that started as expert tools gradually becoming tools directly assisting learners.