Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Applying constructivist learning principles to citizen engagement

Gov 2.0 and new engagement models have in part been fueled by people interested in inverting the social pyramid. The stuff at the bottom of the pyramid tends to be... small and dusty. But, with attention, this can change. Students, intellectuals, various marginalized people can benefit from this inversion, and maybe political outcomes can improve too.

But if it's just an opportunity for getting a bigger volume of good ideas, or a new breed of digital natives elbowing in and getting a bigger slice of attention, don't bother waking most people up for that.

I think we need to worry less about short term results, "Better parking" and worry more about creating and enriching platforms for learning (about advancing citizenship, about being a human in society). Not sandbox environments: real environments, where people learn as they go.

What do these learning political environments look like?

Based on my experience at Bowen Island, Nings, live blogs, and in person open space meetings seem to work well for governance - they can help create dynamic open data environments that are learning environments. But much depends on execution.

What does a learning environment look like? Loosely transcribed from the Elearning curve podcast

"These 5 conditions must be met for a learning approach to work: (Driscoll)

1. Complex learning environments need to be provided – to mimic real life. For learners to be prepared to solve the kinds of problems in real life, they need to learn in authentic environments, with authentic activity.

2. Social negotiation must be encouraged.; Learning is a cultural interchange between members. Collaboration lets users get multi inputs, perspectives, leads to enhanced understanding.

3. Learners must be able to look at materials from multiple perspectives – and with multiple modes of representation.  The same content thru diff sensory modes.

4. Reflexivity must be nurtured. Ie. let students know their own role in the knowledge construction process, in order to take ownership of their own learning and learning processes.

Reflexivity and by extension, critical thinking, is central to constructivist methodology: it enables learners to understand how and why cognition creates meaning. This results in the learners’ ability to perform  reasoning, understand multi perspectives, and defend and expressing their own beliefs.

5. Emphasize student centered (“discovery”) learning. Learners get knowledge on their own. Discovery learning environments constitute cognitive structures that provide meaning, and let people go beyond the info given – instead, users decide the frontiers of their own learning.


Peter Rawsthorne said...

Great post John. I so like when I read about the application of pedagogical theory in the real world. I believe it shows how correct application of the 2.0 tools can encourage learning. What I also believe is how important these interactions need to be blended with face-to-face social interactions.

Adney Abram said...

very nice post. The information you have shared about citizen engagement is really great. thanks for sharing such information here.
citizen engagement