Category Archives: Extensions and reflections

Interdisciplinarity and Epistemic Fluency: What makes complex knowledge work possible

This small deck of slides comes from the EATEL webinar “Interdisciplinarity in Technology-Enhanced Learning”. It was conducted as as dialog between Lina Markauskaite and Carolyn Rosé, December 12th, 2018.

This presentation, entitled “Interdisciplinarity and epistemic fluency: What makes complex knowledge work possible”, draws on the notions of “epistemic infrastructures”  and “epistemic games”. It argues that each research field needs to build its own  epistemic infrastructure for doing joint knowledge work. Constructing  shared epsitemic infrastructures is particularly important (and challenging) for interdisciplinary fields, such as TEL. In order to do this, the field needs to understand much better how researchers (and practitioners) do joint knowledge work and then build deliberatively robust socio-technical epistemic infrastructures that enable to work across disciplinary boundaries productively.

Epistemic infrastructure and Epistemic games

Abstract

The topic chosen for the second edition of the Webinar series is “Interdisciplinarity in TEL”. The TEL field is interdisciplinary by definition. This makes TEL an especially interesting research field. Yet, it also brings complexity at different levels. A challenge for TEL researchers is to properly understand what is interdisciplinarity in our field, its challenges and implications. In the first part of the dialog, Lina Markauskaite will elaborate on the concept of epistemic fluency as “the capacity to understand, switch between and combine different kinds of knowledge and different ways of knowing about the world” (Markauskaite & Goodyear, 2016). Carolyn Rosé will talk about the history of the International Alliance to Advance Learning in the Digital Era, why it was important to her to work towards that as the personal objective of her past presidency in ISLS. She will also talk about interdisciplinarity in her own research bringing learning sciences, human-computer interaction, and artificial intelligence together. The second part of the dialog will consist of a ‘questions & answers debate’ by the two speakers, with participation of the audience.

Understanding the nature and impact of wicked problems and unpredictable futures on work and practice

Cover Challenging Future Practice PossibilitiesThis is one more recent chapter that extends our work on epistemic fluency: Goodyear, P., & Markauskaite, L. (2019). The impact on practice of wicked problems and unpredictable futures. In J. Higgs, S. Cork, & D. Horsfall (Eds.), Challenging future practice possibilities (pp. 41-52). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Brill Sense.  You may have access to a digital copy of this chapter via your institutional subscription. But if you don’t have access and you are interested, please email us. We will be happy to send you a copy of the pre-print (for the sole purpose of your private use of course). The extracts below should give you an idea of what this chapter is about. Note, they are from the pre-print. Check accuracy in the published version if you will quote.

Overview

“Education faces a conundrum. On the one hand, imagined futures are becoming more diverse, fluid and contested. On the other, knowledge and learning are widely believed to be key to survival, success and sustainability. < . . . > There is a broad consensus that it cannot stay the same (Collins, 2017). But in many countries, there is deep disquiet about relations between current education and the futures of those it is meant to serve. Indeed, one sometimes senses a paralysis, brought about by conflicting ideologies as much as by the intrinsic difficulties of making sense of an uncertain, complex world.”

< . . . >

“In this chapter, we aim to offer something more positive. We suggest that there are tools that people can learn to use to deal with complex ‘wicked’ problems. These tools can be used by young and old, but are especially relevant to those who are invested in a problematic situation – those with ‘skin in the game’. These ways of dealing with wicked problems are deeply social. They do not start from an assumption that the best problem solvers are lone wolves: creative, entrepreneurial market-disruptors, motivated by personal profit. Quite the reverse. In our view, tools for working on wicked problems are embodiments of shared ‘moral know-how’, sharpened for the work of collaborative and co-operative future-making.

The rapid and accelerating pace of technological development has had an odd effect on ways we imagine the future. We see it as unknowable and full of risks for which we should prepare, without really knowing what to prepare for: as if the explosion of technological possibilities creates a blinding glare. It need not be so. Technological profusion should cause us to ask a different kind of question: not ‘what will the future world be like, and require of us?’ but ‘what kind of future world do we want to make?’. The genre changes from prediction to design; from reading tea leaves to taking action.”

Epistemic resourcefulness and the development of evaluative judgement

 

Developing Evaluative Judgement in Higher Education: Assessment for Knowing and Producing Quality Work, 1st Edition (Paperback) book coverWe wrote several new papers elaborating the idea of epistemic fluency. One of them is this chapter: Goodyear, P., & Markauskaite, L. (2018). Epistemic resourcefulness and the development of evaluative judgement. In D. Boud, R. Ajjawi, P. Dawson, & J. Tai (Eds.), Developing evaluative judgement in higher education: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work (pp. 28-38). London: Routledge.

Abstract

“This chapter examines the development of evaluative judgement from a professional education perspective, with a focus on the abilities students need to deal with problems that are both complex and novel. Professional work regularly entails engaging in knowledgeable action in previously unencountered situations and formulating impromptu methods for making judgements about the adequacy of one’s actions. From this perspective, evaluative judgement is an epistemic (knowledge-creating) activity. We show how developing evaluative judgement can be understood as learning to play a range of epistemic games, and how epistemic resourcefulness enables one to frame complex judgements in principled ways.”

Extended overview

“Our chapter is primarily a contribution to the task of theorising evaluative judgement. While we believe that this has practical educational payoffs, which we outline in the final section of the chapter, we are also motivated by a curiosity about the kinds of work and capabilities that are involved in evaluative judgement – within and for professional action. In a nutshell, we argue in this chapter that evaluative judgement can be seen as an epistemic capability, useful in assessing one’s ability to engage in knowledgeable action in specific, dynamically changing situations. We draw on some of our recent empirical and theoretical research to show how a broad range of examples of professional knowledge work can be categorised within a taxonomy of epistemic games. The ability to recognise and participate in these games is a manifestation of epistemic fluency and we can think of the corresponding personal capabilities in terms of epistemic resourcefulness. We illustrate this approach to conceptualising evaluative judgement and its development, with a discussion of one particularly relevant kind of professional epistemic game: the evaluation game. From this base, we develop an argument about the need for evaluative judgement to be considered from a generative perspective. In rapidly changing and uncertain times, professionals cannot get by with methods and standards for assessing worth or quality that are carved in stone. Epistemic resourcefulness enables people to formulate novel, principled, approaches to the making of evaluative judgements.”

Quality multiplied: Learning that matters in a runaway world

The keynote for the OpenLearning Conference 2018 on the 27th November 2018, in Kuala Lumpur. It synthesises the main practical insights and implications for design of individual courses and education as a socio-technical system. The slides could be dowloaded here, the abstract  is below (Presented by Lina, but see the acknowledgements)

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Abstract

 How can we help prepare students to solve wicked problems when nobody knows exactly what these problems will be, for jobs and professions that do not yet exist and for a society whose contours, as Anthony Giddens put it, ‘we can as yet only dimly see’?

For the last ten years, I have been researching how university students learn to integrate different kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing needed for innovative and skilful professional action in the world — how they develop a capability called ‘epistemic fluency’. Drawing on my studies and related innovations in my teaching, I will argue that education needs to go beyond the established notions of ‘learning as knowledge acquisition’ or ‘learning as participation’ and go beyond developing courses or shaping students’ experiences. Instead, it should focus on learning that enables students to re-imagine their future, co-assemble their own environments, and co-create actionable knowledge that runs away outside the educational institutions. This is a risky business that requires openness to the world in which the students will live, in fact, to the world which they will co-create.

Universities and other educational institutions have skin in this game. They need courage and wisdom to move beyond their secure ‘industrial’ methods for assuring educational quality, and embrace a greater diversity of ways in which they teach and produce socially valuable knowledge.

Assessment as boundary work: between the discipline and the profession

We added to our slideware a set of slides from a half-day workshop entitled “Assessment as boundary work: between the discipline and the profession” that we facilitated last year at Deakin University.

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Summary

This workshop is for academics, learning designers and academic leaders who work with developing assessment tasks across the spectrum of work integrated learning initiatives. Participants are asked to come with an assessment task that they have used, or plan to use, for students preparing for, or reflecting on, a work placement, practicum or simulated work experience. The workshop will explore how these types of assessment tasks create a dialogue at the boundary between academic discipline knowledge and the reflexive knowledge of a skilled practitioner. Peter and Lina will draw on their recent work on epistemic fluency to introduce the workshop. They have analysed a range of assessment task designs in a variety of professional education contexts to try to identify the multiple forms of knowledge and ways of knowing with which students have to become fluent in preparing for professional practice. Many aspects of professional work involve the creation of new understandings – such as in inter-professional dialogues or client consultations. Often this epistemic work goes unnoticed, though sometimes it involves conscious problem-solving and innovation. The workshop will be a hands-on investigation of how these ideas about epistemic fluency, knowledge work and actionable knowledge can be applied in designing better assessment tasks.