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)
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.
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.
If reports in the media can be trusted, then “knowing” isn’t what it used to be. It seems that we are all caught in a rip, being swept helplessly from a knowledge-based world into a post-truth society, where robots will take all the best jobs.
The latest edition of the Innovating Pedagogy report, published annually by the UK’s Open University, names “epistemic education” as one of the “high impact” trends that will become widespread in education over the next two to five years.
Simultaneously, the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Trend watch list is topped by the word “epistemic”. Something is going on here, but is it just a flash in the pan? An educational fad feeding off a moral panic about fake news, alternative facts and information bubbles?
In this podcast “Teaching as design”, Mollie Dollinger and Jason Lodge speak with Peter about design for learning. But in the last 11 minutes of the podcast Peter describes what epistemic fluency is, its origins, and our work expanding this notion. Peter also talks about how epistemic fluency is connected to design. If you are interested just in epistemic fluency, start listening the podcast from the 31st minute.
This site has been created as a home for resources and discussion on the topic of Epistemic Fluency (Read more).
"Working on real-world problems usually requires the combination of different kinds of specialised and context-dependent knowledge, as well as different ways of knowing. People who are flexible and adept with respect to different ways of knowing about the world can be said to possess epistemic fluency." (Read more in Chapter 1 of Epistemic fluency book)