Sunday, October 19, 2008

CCK08 Non-Linear Learning

There are many good relevant points in the article Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear Learning. As a student, a parent and an educator, I have seen that the traditional linear lockstep-for-all teaching doesn't do justice to the potential of learners who are required to spend 12-20 years of their lives in this system.

Hooray! A new way of educational thinking and supporting learning!

Complexity theory attempts to explain the ‘big consequences of little - a recognition that the world is irreducibly complex, not determinist and predictable things’.

This is a wonderful characterization of complexity theory. Most of education and learning falls within this description. How many times have you "known" something really important that you happened to learn while doing something completely different? Happens all the time.

young people from across the globe, the ‘net generation’, are adopting remarkably similar learning approaches, characterised as chaotic, constructivist, integrated and multi-faceted, and where ‘play’ is central. These young, Lee claim, chart their own learning pathways, set their own goals, ‘learning’ is incidental and a sense of ‘fun’ is paramount. Amid such seeming chaos, these young people develop skills, beliefs and attitudes that many educators have been trying to foster in the school system for years; namely independent and self-directed learning.
... The non-linear approach, which moved away from pushing all students through the same content, produced a learning environment which was relevant and challenging for all students. By the latter cycles, students were more likely to be touched by a sense of ‘fun’ and ‘excitement’ in their computer use.

As much as I appreciate the fuss being made of how the net generation is so different, it isn't news. It is now fashionable in educational academia to address this perceived cataclysmic change that has come about in response to kids having access to the internet. The need has been there for a very long time. It just didn't get a lot of attention. Bring it on. Better late than never..


  1. Are you Joel Smolen? I can't figure it out from your profile. It's a bit disconcerting to read a blog post and not know who the writer is--no hint on the page. Sometimes folks drop by linking from unexpected sources. :-)

  2. Joel is a friend who needed help getting started with his blog. Blogger has a weird way of representing these associations. As soon as he takes over his own stuff, I will go back to being me.