Monkey see, monkey do…

Before anyone jumps down my throat, allow me to acknowledge that Orangutans are one of the great apes and most definitely not monkeys. Still, I couldn’t forego the punchy title for the mere sake of scientific accuracy.

An interview with Swiss Primatologist Carel van Schaik was recently included in an article entitled In search of the smart orangutan in the Health | Science section of the International Herald Tribune from 17 November, 2005. The focus of the piece is on Dr van Schaik’s field work researching the Sumatran Orangutan to uncover aspects of their social organization. The most interesting quote in the interview is related to the fact that Orangutans have big brains in common with humans along with “the ability – in fact, the need – to learn through social inputs?. Dr van Schaik’s position and findings are very much in line with my own research.

Social inputs are generally necessary to successful knowledge transfer of all but the most solitary pursuits. We as humans thrive on feedback loops indicative of observation and subsequent trial and error in order to successfully master both practical and empirical tasks. As our cousins, the Orangutans, demonstrate, social learning is embedded deep in our DNA.


21 November, 2005 at 08:31 Leave a comment

Smart Classrooms

I attended Jamie McKenzie’s keynote address for the Education Queensland E-Learning Expo today at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Jamie’s presentation title, “Smart Learning with New Technologies” was poking a bit of fun at EQ for their ‘Smart Classrooms’ strategy .

“The strategy establishes Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as the bedrock of 21st century schools, where new technologies spark greater interaction between students, teachers, parents and guardians.”

The jab was based on Jamie’s stance that what we need are smart teachers helping to create smart students – not ‘smart’ classrooms. He includes ‘paper’ and ‘books’ in his definition of ‘technologies’ and wants to see the use of ‘technology’ as but one method of delivering teaching aimed at making students smarter. He referred to the practice of “de-laptoping”, which is apparently a new practice being considered in many schools as a remedy to cutting-edge policy implemented without sound pedagogical justification.

One of the presentation highlights was the assertion that schools have moved away from encouraging students to question. Especially in the USA, where students are tested on their writing and calculation skills with little import placed on other ‘literacies’ including Historical Literacy, Ethical Literacy, Cultural Literacy, Geographic Literacy, Economic Literacy, and Sociopolitical Literacy. Students (particularly those in disadvantaged communities) are, in essence, being trained for a service industry where basic reading, writing and numerical skills are sufficient. These students are not being exposed to the type of learning that produces critical thinkers or even those with the skills to ask the boss “why?”.

31 October, 2005 at 06:27 Leave a comment

Research interest

My current research interest is looking how oral tradition, enculturation, and the production of native/aboriginal art and artefacts contribute to the teaching and learning process of early societies and whether those methods can be replicated or emulated in modern virtual environments.

This model is one in which teaching and learning ‘conversations’ in the classroom, the living room, the board room and distributed virtual rooms can be combined, structured and evaluated. That these conversations occur in “primitive” or “modern” societies; on or off-line is irrelevant.

21 October, 2005 at 00:14 3 comments

Sociocybernetics defined

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Sociocybernetics is an independent chapter of science in sociology based upon the General Systems Theory and Cybernetics. It also has a basis in Organizational Development (OD) consultancy practice and in Theories of Communication, theories of psychotherapies and computer sciences.

20 October, 2005 at 22:07 Leave a comment


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