10 April 2007

Navigation negotiation

Hi Folks,
I wrote earlier that I was reading and learning about navigation at sea.
Probably you skimmed over this and dismissed it as Paul havering about some thing or another.
Yo ! There is much more to this, and comments are cordially invited.

At sea you need three expert bearing takers to take simultaneous compass bearings to fix a position ( briefly ). No one person can perform this activity alone. It is not a simplistic 'the sum is greater than the parts'.
I have always been a staunch steadfast advocate of cognitive constructivism, and of constructionism (that learning occurs in the mind, from outside stimuli and experiential practice - see my books and papers on this). And I sidelined Vygotsky as merely arguing that homo-sapiens working in a group could succeed over individualist neanderthal. However, I am deeply reconsidering my position in view of this course.

Let me give you an example. In a rock band the guitarist and drummer perform separately, and cannot replace each other. What goes on in one mind is intelligent (at least as far as Pink Floyd was concerned) but the communication channels among the different functioning minds is severely limited - a bottleneck ; the same as in this WestGeorgia course or any distance education course.

Now we can visualize the navigation team networking by looking at the pencil lines drawn on the chart, and we can hear the amazing sounds of Shine on You Crazy Diamond, but we cannot learn and perform the functions of the other team members (well we could if we gave up our own job, but the complexity of each job is such that the human mind cannot do two complex tasks simultaneously). The visualization shows us that the context of the task dictates the need and presence of distributed knowledge, which can never be internalized by any one person. (This impacts somewhat on Vygotsky : it puts limits on his theory, and draws it into the networked computer age of distance education.)

Unless we accept that the role of the context dictates the nature of the distributed knowledge construction, we can never fully appreciate correctly the role of learning as individual cognitive constructionism (here I mean constructionism not constructivism).

More later.
All Best Wishes -

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