Friday, May 22, 2015

E-Learning Evolution- The Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network-Part II-Its Nature

If we accept the idea that more and more disciplines are become less and less compartmentalized and are moving towards more cross disciplinary approaches with open collaboration, then the question that we need to ask:

"What must we do to help learners transition from the compartmentalized thinking about knowledge that has been the driving force in their education under the old model of education to a new way of cross disciplinary thinking?

Perhaps an even more telling question that should also be asked is:

"How do we as educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and even CEO's, make the transition ourselves in our professional practices?"


Cross Disciplinary Skill Sets Needed

 If our goal is to teach students how to solve real world problems in effective and collaborative ways, we need to address the question as to what skill sets does a cross disciplinary learner need to develop and nurture in order to accomplish the goal. Certainly the following key cognitive skills are standard requirements:

  1. Intellectual Curiosity
  2. Reasoning
  3. Problem Solving
 However, these skills were also standard requirements under the past way of thinking. What changes?

Intellectual Curiosity: It is not enough to be able to engage in scholarly inquiry and dialogue, learners must also be able to determine while working on the web who has the most credible voice to speak for the discipline in question. Engaging in dialogue with anyone who calls them self a "guru" without using thoughtful discernment is like walking into a minefield and hoping the mines are where the experts think they are.
Learners need to have access to professional forums and need to learn to listen to conversations. They need to be willing to probe and test what is being said.

In the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network, the professionals making up the network would have a responsibility of providing such a forum and making it intellectually accessible to learners.


Reasoning: It is a basic requirement that learners have the skill of being able to consider the arguments and conclusions of others as well as being able to construct well-reasoned arguments. However, in the support of this skill, they also need to be able to determine what online databases and other sources of information will yield the most reliable and authentic data. They need to be able to collaborate with peers and professionals in order to produce compelling and defensible solutions to problems that they are tasked with.

In the Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network, learners would have a forum to present arguments dealing with problems they are tasked with and would expect to be challenged by the professionals there. Learners would need the skill to collaboratively re-think arguments when evidence gives warrant to it.

Problem Solving: Problem solving is the very heart of what we are trying to accomplish with learners from a cross disciplinary perspective. Under this new way of thinking, certain skills are paramount:

  1.  Students need to be able to analyze a real world problem and determine what skill sets are required in order to get the most accurate picture of the problem.

    2. Students need to be able to collaborate with others both peers and professionals in creative ways. Divergent thinking skills would be encouraged in arriving at multiple solutions to a real world problem. This skill was a trait that the old model of education said was only possessed by a few people. Recent cognitive neuroscience research now has shown that the "Right Brain-Left Brain" theory was wrong.


    The mentor network becomes instrumental in nurturing learners and encouraging them to thinking outside the box as a standard way of approaching real world problems.

    The Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Network:Other Responsibilities

    Some of the responsibilities of this network have been mentioned above. Some other important roles that these professionals could play are:

    1. Work with educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and game designers in the design of irresistibly engaging learning experiences that would then be provided to the Global Learning Hub.
    2. Collaborate with educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and game designers in the design of assessment tools and also take part in the assessment of the learner's efforts from the perspective of their discipline. This would involve them in providing ongoing feedback to the learner and especially to mentor-learner groups.
    3. Willing to identify students with the right aptitudes and skills for their specific discipline and set up mentor matches.

    The transition for both learners who will become the creators of new knowledge and skill sets will take time and in order for this to happen, we need to look at real world problems in new ways.

    Next... Revisiting an example of a real world problem but this time from a cross disciplinary approach.

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