The knowledge society has reinterpreted the concept of knowledge, shifting from the idea of philosophical argument to an epistemological meaning linked to educational actions. Knowledge is now diffuse, not centralized, and more accessible than ever before, and learning approaches involve visual processes and nontraditional languages. This has led to a radical change in the way knowledge is transferred, away from intentional transgenerational transmission and toward self-directed learning, simplified by multimedia and technological resources. According to current learning theories, knowledge construction may be defined as a mediative process between adaptive learning dynamics at both the individual and collective level. Research on knowledge construction has combined social contextualisation and constructivism to achieve a sociocultural view of the distributed mind. At the same time, cultural embeddedness and domain-specific situativity are interconnected with mind embodiment and the view of the environment as a holistic and synergic organism. From an educational point of view improving guidance in a diffuse knowledge society is definitely a very difficult task, notwithstanding the fact that knowledge may seem relatively easy to approach. Diffuse knowledge can be highly specialised, and may require the ability to transfer and generalise learning in order to link the various aspects that are examined. At the same time, knowledge must be contextualized if we want to identify motivational implications and, more importantly, show its actual usability at experiential level.
Classical Models For Teaching, Learning—And E-Learning?
In technology, constructivism appears to be particularly effective when associated with a social as well as cultural interpretation of knowledge. Though these two points of view have traditionally been kept quite distinct, integration of these two strands of research now seems likely to be opening up interesting interpretative multiplicities. This integration makes synergic reconsideration possible on the part of the learner (Figure 1) leading to the development of learning pathways orientated towards concrete learning supported by a social vision of the construction of the learning environment.
The learner from a socio-constructivist point of view
Key Terms in this Chapter
Educability: Educability may be considered as a complex process concerning individual adaptive learning potential to cope with environments, explicit and/or implicit conditions of interaction in designed or nondesigned learning environments, and the role of personal history in these experiential dynamics. Educability is the process which concerns the criteria whereby it is possible to “form” the mind in epigenesis by activating paths which may regulate and transform learning. Management and transformation activities are therefore hypothesized, designed, and developed keeping in mind the potential variables of adaptive systems and of their development processes.
Distributed Mind: Knowledge is distributed—among minds, in the intersubjectivity of thought; among the “peripheral devices” that represent the “extensions” of the mind, like technology; among the “cognitive artefacts”, coconstructed cultural products, domain specific and relative to the contexts from which they emerge and in which they are formed.
Embodied Mind: Knowledge is embodied, within the body and “organismicity” of the learner and of the environment in which the learner is synergically included, within a correlative vision of the interdependent relationships between mind and brain.
Adaptive Learning Environments: The processes of acquiring and managing knowledge may take place in dynamic and adaptive learning environments, where the focus is on the relationships and modes of interaction between teacher and learner, between the learner and the learning environment. Aspects which make a learning environment adaptive are bound to the evolving nature, seldom fully predictable, of cognition and its correlative nature, between the individual and the community. Adaptive learning environments may be considered flexible environments where the design of learning aims is by its very nature dynamic.
Situated Mind: Knowledge is embedded in space-time situativity and within the contingency of the various learning situations, where experiential interaction is regulated by evolving and adaptive criteria.
Bioeducational Sciences: Bioeducational sciences can be seen as an emerging field of research which links neuroscience, biological sciences and educational perspectives on shared focuses to deal with the problem of mind education in epigenesis. At the heart of bioeducational sciences lies the study of mind development from an educational point of view. Bioeducational sciences aim to develop integrated research approaches to find out what kind of constraints may influence individual modifiability and relative plasticity in educational development.
Constructivism: The concept of “construction” implies transformative “working” on knowledge; an active and reactive task of acquiring, processing and producing knowledge which puts the learner in a key position in the learning process—in other words aware of how the process itself works; capable of managing, proposing, and being creative. In the technological field the constructivist viewpoint is particularly effective precisely because of its interpretative multiplicity, which lends itself to a reconsideration of the learner as designer, metareflective thinker and community member—leading to an integrated vision of learning environments design.