The Recursive Knowledge Development Model for Virtual Environments

The Recursive Knowledge Development Model for Virtual Environments

Nan B. Adams, Thomas A. DeVaney
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-822-3.ch002
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The concept of leveraging strategic control of the knowledge from teachers to students in virtual learning environments serves as the basis for determining how to move students through stages of knowledge acquisition to knowledge application and ultimately to knowledge generation in online settings. Instructional strategies for fostering student engagement in a virtual learning environment are identified as critical, and a number of relevant theories focusing on student learning, affect, needs and adult concerns are presented to provide a basis for transfer of knowledge from teacher to learner. A model is presented that combines the dimensions of knowledge approach, knowledge authority and teaching approach to demonstrate the recursive and scaffold design for the creation of virtual learning environments.
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The Conflict

The basic philosophical conflict in construction of virtual learning environments lies in the basic belief about what is considered knowledge, the structure of that knowledge, and what knowledge should be valued or championed. This may be illustrated by a brief discussion of the modern and postmodern views about reality and knowledge.

Modernists believe that reality exists objectively and generally believe that knowledge has a definable structure. They believe it is the charge of the teacher to either lead or facilitate inquiry for students to discover this pre-existing structure and incorporate it into their own knowledge base to solve problems in a way that demonstrates their systematic understanding of a body of knowledge.

In general, postmodernists believe that reality is a human creation that is socially constructed. The postmodern view that reality changes–and is constructed differently by each individual–necessitates less structured, more individually-oriented learning environments that provide student choice and serve to rely on the strategy of gradually allowing the learner to explore existing knowledge structures as they create their own knowledge structures. The focus is on the learner ultimately generating his or her personal knowledge from existing knowledge and information they encounter. Context often provides the social element for construction (Ozmon & Craver, 2007).

Virtual environments exemplify postmodern belief. This highly changeable and infinitely responsive environment is wholly constructed by the mind of the author and then reconstructed by the mind of the visitor. The notion that rigid structure may be applied in this environment is only a computer virus away from changed reality. It is of great concern to the author that these virtual learning environments seek to develop whole, rather than partial constructions of reality, knowledge and knowing.

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