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Learning Sciences should be about more than learning science!

My research group (Stephanie Teasley, Eric Cook, and Jude Yew) and I are proposing a workshop for the International Conference for the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2008). We’re hoping to get a group of people together to discuss learning as it occurs outside classrooms and other formal and semi-formal instruction environments. I’ve been frustrated with learning sciences events and publications in the past because they seem to focus too narrowly on classroom learning – especially middle school science and math classrooms. Thinking of learning, rather than instruction, seems an important distinction, and the learning sciences community ought to stake a broader claim. Not only are we studying learning outside the laboratory, we’re studying it outside contexts explicitly established for learning.

For example, I consider myself a learning scientist; I elect this moniker because I’m interested in how adults learn in their professional environments.

  • How do civil engineers learn to design with a new building technology?
  • How to doctoral students learn the lay of the land in their new schools?
  • How do communities capture and represent the knowledge that resides in them?
  • What does the way organizations use wikis tell us about what knowledge they value?

These questions and more ought to be part of the Learning Sciences even though I didn’t mention minors, teachers, curriculum, or standards once. Hopefully our workshop will get accepted, and it will become a welcome respite and energized conversation for others frustrated by the science classroom focus of today’s learning sciences.

So, what do you think ?

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