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Title: Victims of Outcomes: Towards an Enactivist Model of Technological Literacy
Cyclical models are often used to describe how students learn and develop. These models usually focus on the cognitive domain and describe how knowledge and skills are learned within a course or classroom. By providing insights into how students learn and thus how an instructor can support learning, these models and the schemas drawn from them also influence beliefs about learning and thus how educational programs are designed and developed. In this paper the authors present an alternative cyclical model of learning that is drawn from a philosophy of enactivism rather than rational dualism. In comparison with the dualism inherent in viewpoints derived from Descartes where learners construct internal mental representation from inputs received from the external world, in enactivism development occurs through continual dynamic interactions between an agent and their environment. Enactivism thus emphasizes the role environments play in learning and development. The model developed in this paper hypothesizes that the environment in which learning typically occurs can be represented by three elements: the learner’s identity and culture which informs personally significant goals and values; the affordances a degree program offers in areas of knowledge, identity, and context which informs the capabilities of the environment; and the implicit and explicit goals of education as they are negotiated and understood by learners and teachers. These three elements are strongly coupled and together define the ever-changing learning environment. The paper explores how changing technologies and cultures affect each of these three elements in regards to students’ ability to become technologically literate. While rational or dualist views of education see such environmental changes as peripheral to developing accurate representations of truth, enactivism posits that environment significantly affects the process of education. Because each student or faculty member is a participant in a learning organization changes within the organization—whether externally or internally driven—change the learning process. If education is deemed successful when students can transfer learning to new contexts, dualist models assume transfer is weakly coupled to educational environments while the enactivist viewpoint posits that environments strongly affect transfer. The enactivist model can inform efforts to encourage technological literacy. Like many areas in STEM, education technological literacy has sought to identify and support learning outcomes that specify effective teaching or content interventions which enable learners to become more technologically literate. From the enactivist perspective, however, technological literacy is achieved by placing individuals into an environment in which they must navigate technology-induced challenges, with success defined as learning processes that allow learners to manage tensions inherent in their environment. Because most students already live in such environments teaching definable or enumerable outcomes makes less sense than helping student to be metacognitive and reflective how they manage and relate with technology.  more » « less
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American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exhibition
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National Science Foundation
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