Learning and Chaos

Found an interesting article after talking with an expert in Chaos theory. JoAnn discusses possible impacts of Chaos theory on classroom learning using systems, initial effects, bifurcations and fractals. She also explores existing theory in relation to chaotic systems for learning.

Essentially, the point that needs to be explored is whether learning is linear, deterministic and predictable or is it inherently non-linear, dynamic and unpredictable. Chaotic systems may appear random and dynamically changing, but still exhibit an underlying pattern or order.

With such a myriad of factors at all levels (content, teacher, student, learning environment) that affect the teaching-learning process, it is a little wondrous to assume that learning is determinate. For example, as JoAnn points out, prior knowledge has an acknowledged role in what we learn. From the point of view of Chaos theory, small changes in initial conditions may cause very large changes in individual learning or performance.

George Siemens brings more in through adding theories of complexity, chaos and emergence into understanding learning. George appeals to “deterministic unpredictability” of the learning process as reason enough for us to consider the impact of these three theories in our own think about learning. More links here.

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