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Understanding the learning brain in the world

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Understanding the learning brain in the world
How does the brain learn? Some answers to this question are briefly summarised in this presentation that was made in the symposium “The Mind and the Machine: Brain, mind and digital learning environments” at ascilite 2015. (They are elaborated in Epistemic fluency book.) Many of our insights draw on what we call “slow” or “long” neurosciences, to include evolutionary neuroscience, neuroanthropology, neuroarchaeology and neurolinguistics, that study cultural and social evolution of human brain and mind, rather than just traditional “fast” cognitive neuroscience that primarily look at micro processes in human brain. The main our claim is that neurosciences, broadly taken, already now offer a lot of useful knowledge for teaching, learning and educational design and contributions of these fields to education will be more radical than the emerging educational neuroscience field in its current shape tends to embrace and envision.
Neuro-scientific evidence challenges us to rethinking cognitive theories of learning and link cognition with situated action within materially textured (digital and physical) world. To put it short “Brains, bodies and things play equal role in the drama of human cultural becoming” (Malafouris, 2013, 2) and this cannot be ignored. In educational technology field, “slow” neurosciences force us to move away from thinking about the Mind as the Machine to thinking about how Humans learn and think with the Machines.

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Understanding the learning brain in the world

  1. 1. The University of Sydney Page 1 Understanding the learning brain in the world Lina Markauskaite ascilite 29 November- 2 December 2015 Symposium: The Mind and the Machine: Brain, mind and digital learning environments
  2. 2. The University of Sydney Page 2 Acknowledgement Lina Markauskaite & Peter Goodyear “Epistemic Fluency and Professional Education: Innovation, knowledgeable action and actionable knowledge,” Springer, early 2016 Epistemic fluency: http://epistemicfluency.com
  3. 3. The University of Sydney Page 3 From the “slow” neurosciences Enculturated brain: much of “higher-order” features of the mind originate in culture and depend upon the developed functional brain’s architecture (Donald, 2001) Embodied brain: humans understand the world through the frame of their bodies (Damasio, 2010) Extended brain: “cognition leaks into body and world” (Clark, 2008) Enactive brain: knowledge and what is known are brought forth through action (Maturana &
  4. 4. The University of Sydney Page 4 Main claims Computer technologies have shaped much of our thinking about the mind’s architecture reinforcing an unproductive division between the mind/thinking and the body/action Brain research could help us to... 1. Link cognition with situated action 2. Move from learning from/through technology to learning with technology 3. Intelligently design environments for learning Moving from the Mind as the Machine to the huMans with the Machines
  5. 5. The University of Sydney Page 5 Descartes’ division: Mind vs. Body Brain/Mind Body/Action Symbols/Thinking Tools/Practice Habits (Physical & digital spaces) Ideas (Conceptual structures) Based on Jelle van Dijk, Embodied technology, 2013
  6. 6. The University of Sydney Page 6 Information Processing view of mind: Adaptive Control of Thought—Rational (ACT-R) architecture From Ohlsson, Deep learning, 2011
  7. 7. The University of Sydney Page 7 Cognitive theory of multimedia learning From Mayer, Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning, 2005
  8. 8. The University of Sydney Page 8 Challenges for IP from brain research 1. Thinking is all over the brain 2. No neural support for “slower-moving” working memory processes 3. No mechanisms to support historically evolved architecture of the enculturated human brain Damasio, Human decisions, 2012 Donald, The slow process, 2007
  9. 9. The University of Sydney Page 9 Cognition as a symbiosis between biology & culture “Human cognitive evolution is characterized by two special features that are truly novel in the primate line. – The first is the emergence of "mindsharing" cultures that perform cooperative cognitive work, and serve as distributed cognitive networks. – The second is the emergence of a brain that is specifically adapted for functioning within those distributed networks, and cannot realize its design potential without them.” Donald, The slow process, 2007
  10. 10. The University of Sydney Page 10 The origins of the modern mind Three stages in the development of “mind-sharing” culture 0. Episodic memory: perception 1. Mimetic memory: skill, gesture 2. Mythic memory: oral language, imagination 3. Theoretic + technological memory: formalisms, distributed storage technologies Donald, Origins of the modern mind, 2001 Brain is specifically adapted for functioning within distributed cognitive networks and cannot realize its design potential without them (Donald, 2001)
  11. 11. The University of Sydney Page 11 Embodied, Enacted, Extended, Enculturated cognition Brain/Mind Body/Action Symbols/Thinking Tools/Practice Habits (Physical & digital spaces) Ideas (Conceptual strictures) Neuroeducation & Design for eLearning space Embodied, Enacted (Active perception) Extended, Enculturated (Social situations) Embodied (inter)actions within co-constructed environments Based on Jelle van Dijk, Embodied technology, 2013
  12. 12. The University of Sydney Page 12 Grounded cognition: Re-enacting concepts – Add parts of the concepts Somatosensory cortex # (legs) $ (tails) ** (barks) @ (soft) Barsalou, Language and simulation in representation of abstract concepts, 2010
  13. 13. The University of Sydney Page 13 Learning as co-constructing epistemic environments “We do not just self-engineer better worlds to think in. We self-engineer ourselves to think and perform better in the worlds we find ourselves in. We self-engineer worlds in which to build better worlds to think in. We build better tools to think with and to use these very tools to discover still better tools to think with. We tune the way we use these tools by building educational practices to train ourselves to use our best cognitive tools better...” Clark, Supersizing the mind, 2008, p59
  14. 14. The University of Sydney Page 14 Main claims Computer technologies have shaped much of our thinking about the mind’s architecture reinforcing an unproductive division between mind/thinking and body/action Brain research could help us to... 1. Link cognition with situated action 2. Move from learning from/through technology to learning with technology 3. Intelligently design environments for learning Main dangers... 1. Not letting go Information Processing theories of the mind 2. Separating brain research from learning design 3. Doing brain research mainly in laboratories than in the world 4. Not engaging with “slow” neurosciences Epistemic fluency: http://epistemicfluency.com

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