Today was an intersting day in terms of learning about Discourse in Classroom, and role of technology / Use of techology to foster discourse, foster learning in as ethnically diverse communities/societies as villagers in Andhra Pradesh and communities in Central Asia. The talk on Scientific Discourse in Classrooms by a senior Learning Sciences, PhD student (Kuhn, L) at NU and the latter, a talk by Prof. Srinivasan (UCLA). The aspect common to both these talks was the emphasis on role of discourse either as sense-making tool or as community building and knowledge enhancing tool. Interestingly, this relates to my interests in understanding discourse in a self-directed or in-formal, if you may setting along with that of my advisor (Prof.Reiser) and a PhD candidate (Umphress, J).
While the classroom setting is significantly different from the museum setting, and the settings as talked in Dr. Srinivasan’s projects, the commonality between all is that discourse is being thought of as an exploratory tool to make sense of things, events, and curriculum. Ever since I have started my journey at NU as a student of LS, I cannot help but compare and contrast the pedagogy as adopted in this program, the research on discourse and the pedagogy adopted by educationists in India at all levels of education (some MBA courses do not fall into this category!). An extremely directive approach, less of an exploratory and research based approach is what has been the hall-mark of education that I have pursued. While that approach has produced tons and tons of brilliant minds and successful professionals and researchers, it could have also failed in allowing students the opportunity to be excited about discovery, about inquiry. And in my understanding, the elements of discovery and inquiry foster engagement in learning.
It is this element, that makes people think about things, instead of getting used to standard approaches and standard solutions. While i am not sure how much is this point a focus of the studies mentioned above, I am sure that it is playing a significant role in their research questions. This definitely has played a very significant role in the field of discourse and the field of inquiry-based learning, of which Prof. Reiser is a renowned figure.
There sure are take aways from all different approaches to learning, and I guess the deal is always about trade-offs. And still, improvisations and new learnings is what keeps things ticking.