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Beyond professional education: Why do we need epistemic fluency?

Eight years ago, when Peter and I started this project, public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was steadily going up. Knowing, that the interest in ‘wisdom’ was falling, it made sense for us to invest some our intellectual energy into understanding ‘epistemic fluency’. At least, there was an implicit hope that this may compensate for the ‘fall’ in ‘wisdom’.



Has the situation changed after 8 years? It is hard to get ‘hard’ evidence, but from looking at Twitter’s feeds, I think it is safe to say that public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was as ever on peak. But ‘X’, to my dismay, wasn’t ‘fluency’.

‘Epistemic closure’ was certainly on the top of the list (particularly around the US election time), followed by ‘epistemic nihilism’, ‘epistemic injustice’, ‘epistemic uncertainty’, ‘epistemic violence’, even ‘epistemic sexism’. (I am less sure about  ‘wisdom’, but its antonym ‘stupidity’ certainly was on peak too, in 2016.)

What does it mean for education? On the one hand, we may simply ignore this: word ‘epistemic’ equally happily floats above everything that we hate or value. On the other hand, we should admit that our educational systems have not yet succeeded rising up an epistemically wise and respectful population.

It is likely that 2017 will be even more epistemically challenging. We haven’t yet learnt to participate in democracies that we created, and now we need to debate democracies in which we find ourselves. This is why we need epistemic fluency.

Peter’s invited lecture at ascilite 2016

Peter’s talk at ascilite2016 on skilful design and epistemic fluency. The video recording is  here


This may not be the final version, but will have most of the references, ideas etc.


Analysis and design for complex learning …

Over the last year or so, there has been a good deal of online soul-searching about the field or discipline of educational technology: about its nature, foundations, scope and purpose – including whether and how it can make a difference to policy and practice in higher education, which is ascilite’s home ground. In this talk, I want to focus on the production of educational design knowledge: knowledge that is useful to people who design for other people’s learning. I will use, as an illustrative example, the ACAD framework – an Activity-Centred approach to Analysis and Design – to make some points about the creation of useful design knowledge. In so doing, I hope to (a) draw attention to a family of approaches to research and development…

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Innovating innovation in teaching and learning

This short presentation “Linking Innovation in Teaching and Learning with Educational Research (in Higher Education)” discusses some opportunities and challenges for linking local practical innovations in teaching and learning with scholarly research that aims to produce shareable knowledge. It broadly builds on the work of the Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation.

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The presentation includes some general notes about what is considered to be an innovation, in general, and in teaching and learning, in particular, in Australian context. It argues that opportunities for linking practical improvements in university’s teaching and learning with high-quality high-value knowledge-generating educational research are hugely underutilised. Local improvements in teaching and learning, particularly those that involve innovative uses of ICT, could hugely benefit from adopting more explicit knowledge-focused approaches to practical innovation. The presentation points out to two concrete approaches that could help to create this link at a micro (course, program, etc.) and community (organisation) levels, respectively:

  1. Design-based research and other approaches that aim to produce principled-practical knowledge and
  2. Innovation bootstrapping approach for creating innovating organisations.

Overall, innovation in teaching and learning in university settings is it self a phenomenon that needs much more deliberative innovation and research.

Educational research as an interdisciplinary epistemic craft

This set of slides has been prepared for a workshop “Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning”. It summarises some ideas about intellectual work across conventional (disciplinary) boundaries in education. A number of them draw on experiences working in the field of the learning sciences and writing the Epistemic fluency book. The main message is the paradoxical tension between what educational research is as practice and how educational research is organised and institutionalised as a formal research field (aka. discipline).


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eBook version of Epistemic Fluency and Professional Education has been published

The eBook version of  Epistemic Fluency and Professional Education has been published at It’s free for those who have access to an institutional SpringerLink account.

Free previews are not yet operational, but you can download the front matter. Sample Chapter 2 is  available  in Springer’s online bookstore (it says 2 pages, but it is actually the whole chapter). 

Reviews, comments and other kinds of feedback are most welcome. Feel free to post them here or email us.