Conceptualizing Debates in Learning and Educational Research:

Towards a Complex Systems Conceptual Framework of Learning

Updated: 5:04pm, 30 Aug, 2022
12 December 2017 (Tue)
Room 101, 1/F., Runme Shaw Bldg., HKU
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Chair: Professor Nancy Law, Professor, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

In this talk, I provide an overview of a paper that proposes a Complex Systems Conceptual Framework of Learning (CSCFL) to inform educational research that is based on perspectives and methodologies being employed in the study of complex physical and social systems. I argue that the contexts in which learning occurs are complex systems with elements or agents at different levels—including neuronal, cognitive, intrapersonal, interpersonal, cultural—in which there are feedback interactions within and across levels of the systems so that collective properties arise (i.e., emerge) from the behaviors of the parts, often with properties that are not individually exhibited by those parts. I then analyze the long running cognitive versus situative learning debate and propose the CSCFL provides a principled way to achieve a rapprochement between these two theoretical camps. I conclude with a consideration of the implications of the CSCFL for neuroscience and educational research and for educational theory and research more generally.

About the speaker(s):

About the speaker(s):

Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work and Co-Director of the Learning, Cognition, and Brain Research Group at the University of Sydney. In addition, he is an Affiliate at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His research focuses on the design of immersive virtual worlds and agent-based modeling and visualization tools to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. He also studies the implications of complex systems and complexity for learning, policy, and theory.  Michael has published extensively in areas related to the learning sciences and technology, including numerous scientific papers, book chapters, and two books. He has given numerous keynote talks and invited addresses at international conferences and served as an educational, government, and business consultant internationally. Groups such as the Australian Research Council, Singapore Ministry of Education, Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, and U.S. National Science Foundation have funded his research. He is also the Founder and CEO of Pallas Advanced Learning Systems, which is an edtech startup company based in Sydney.

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