The Challenge of Coherence

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Presented to University of South Africa, Pretoria.

Presented to University of South Africa, Pretoria.

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  • Antonovsky, A. (1993) ‘The structure and properties of the sense of coherence scale.’ Social Science & Medicine 36, (6) 725-733
  • Klein, G., Moon, B., and Hoffman, R. R. (2006) ‘Making sense of sensemaking 1: Alternative perspectives.’ IEEE Intelligent Systems 21, (4) 70–73. doi:10.1109/MIS.2006.75
  • Miller, J. H., and Page, S. E (2007). Complex adaptive systems: An introduction to computational models of social life. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Simon, D. (2004) ‘A third view of the black box: cognitive coherence in legal decision making.’ University of Chicago Law Review [online]71, (511) 511-585
  • Kamalski, J., Sanders, T., and Lentz, L. (2008) ‘Coherence marking, prior knowledge, and comprehension of informative and persuasive texts: sorting things out.’ Discourse Processes 45, 323-345
  • Vakkari, P. (1999) ‘Task complexity, problem structure and information actions: integrating studies on information seeking and retrieval.’ Information Processing and Management 35, 819-837
  • diSessa, A. A. (1993). Toward an epistemology of physics. Cognition and Instruction 10(2 & 3): 105-225.


  • 1. The challenge of coherence anddeep learning: implications for social networked learning George Siemens, PhD September 4, 2012 Presented to: University of South Africa
  • 2. “Damn it, were going to crash... This cant behappening!”
  • 3.
  • 4. As educators, we constantly hear about the wonderful opportunities of new technologiesLearners can create and connect!We’ll finally do away with industrial-modeleducation!Everyone can access content! Teaching!etc.
  • 5. A peripheral voice asking about “information validity” and “depth of learning”is often treated as an idea expressed by a 3 year old “there, there, you don’t understand it yet”
  • 6. But there is a real concern here:How do learners develop a nuanced and deepunderstanding of how concepts are relatedwhen learning occurs in fragments?
  • 7. Recognition is growing of complexity and networks as underpinningattributes of social, science, education
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
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  • 12. Within complexity and networks, we seek coherence and relatedness
  • 13. “orientation about the meaning and value ofinformation elements based on how they areconnected, structured, and related” (Antonovsky 1993)
  • 14. Medical situations/diagnosis“fit together in a coherent causal scheme” (Klein, Moon, and Hoffman 2006)
  • 15. Agents in a system possess only partialinformation (Miller and Page 2007)…to make sense and act meaningfully requiresconnections to be formed between agents
  • 16. “decisions are made effectively and comfortablywhen based on coherent mental models” (Simon 2004)
  • 17. In language and discourse, coherence relationsare “meaning relations that connect discoursesegments” (Kamalski et al. 2008)
  • 18. “a vague conception . . . toward a more clearunderstanding of the problem with a coherentconceptual structure” (Vakkari 1999)
  • 19. Knowledge development, learning, is (shouldbe) concerned with learners understandingrelationships, not simply memorizing facts.i.e. naming nodes is “low level” knowledgeactivity, understanding node connectivity, andimplications of changes in networkstructure, consists of deeper, coherent, learning
  • 20. Knowledge relatedness and conceptual errorsare often not made explicit (tests don’t alwayssurface these errors)
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  • 22. Existing coherence forming systemsBooksNewspapersTV news programsMagazines(anything that is structured and that the enduser can’t speak into and alter)
  • 23. Knowledge in pieces
  • 24. As we become connected globally,new knowledge configurations will arise
  • 25. Knowledge creation will be influenced –constrained - by integrated ecosystems(the iTunes/Microsoft model)
  • 26. Solving challenging problems:surfacing and connecting what individuals know
  • 27. What does this mean to you as an educator?Importance of learners creating artifacts thatreflect how they view a concept/disciplineAssisting learners in thinking in networks(relationship between concepts)Teaching and learning in networks…
  • 28. (new) Goals of Harvard General Education1. General education prepares students for civic engagement2. General education teaches students to understand themselves as products of—and participants in—traditions of art, ideas, and values.3. General education prepares students to respond critically and constructively to change4. General education develops students’ understanding of the ethical dimensions of what they say and do Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2007
  • 29. Starts September 10, 2012
  • 30.
  • 31. October 8-November 16, 2012
  • 32. gsiemens @ gmail Twitter Skype FB