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Key Concepts for Understanding New Learning

Active Knowledge Making

Active knowledge making means creating courses/programs that emphasize the sought after innovation, creativity, and problem solving valued in the burgeoning knowledge economy. The purpose and social significance of education has become much broader than learning a body of knowledge through memorization and recitation. 

Active knowledge making teaching/learning activities create a different type of learner through building higher levels of epistemic performance through enhancing critical thinking, involving real-world problem-solving, active reasoning and self-/peer-reflection and assessment, being reflexive, metacognition, and ultimately co-designing/collaborating. The social significance of education is now largely for the knowledge economy, and many aspects of the knowledge transmission/command-compliance paradigm of traditional education will become less relevant. 

Ubiquitous Learning

The ubiquitous learning concept means that learning can be all around us. Learning can now happen anytime/anywhere, transcending the traditional pedagogical separations of time/space. One of the goals of New Learning is to take the learning relationships that could traditionally only take place in a physical classroom and create teaching/learning environments where those relationships can happen with the same intensity without the confinements of time/space of the traditional classroom.

Most of us take the ubiquitous learning capabilities of digital technologies for granted. We always have our phones and favorite devices with us. But what we don't often consider the ways in which this changes how we learn/construct knowledge as citizens and societies. Digital technologies can be used to various degrees across classrooms to create learning environments where learning can happen at anytime. 

Productive Diversity 

Productive diversity in pedagogy means recognizing, harnessing, and celebrating the power and complexity of lifeworld differences in interests, aspirations, affinities, personae, narratives, identities, perspectives, networks, languages, and orientations among learners, citizens, and workers in all their humanity. It considers and utilizes their prior dispositions and knowledge/agency. This means acknowledging/leaving a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching/learning that worked for social control in the past and reproduces inequality in educational opportunities/outcomes.

Collaborative Intelligence

Collaborative intelligence is centered around external motivation from institutional rewards as well as intrinsic motivations created through collective tasks and collaborations. You introduce a fun way to give and receive feedback and it becomes motivating. You can then assess feedback interactions as well as the finished artifacts which is a collective contribution in a knowledge community parallel to the real-world.

Knowledge Ecologies 

Knowledge ecologies are fundamental to understanding the power of these advances in the science of education. Using knowledge ecosystems (i.e. translating the logic of digital technologies into ecologies of social knowledge) in teaching/learning fosters collaborative intelligence, and creates shared agency among/between learners, their learning, their instructors, their programs, and the larger world around them.

Knowledge Society/Economy

The leading edge of the global economy has become drive by technologies based on knowledge production and dissemination. In other words, the digital age has brought us to a knowledge-based economy and society. There are major changes with how people now construct/apply knowledge, and the New Learning philosophy is that education should adapt to these changes. To learn more about this "knowledge age" where knowledge/ideas are the main sources of economic value, watch the video below. 

"Metacognition" Creating learning environments that foster metacognition is important to me as an instructor. 

Cognition and action are core features of learning, whether it’s experiential, conceptual, or analytical learning; or applying knowledge in any kind of way. Students need to be reflecting on what they are doing, what concepts they’re developing, on how they are applying a particular kind of knowledge, and ultimately considering the processes they took to deliver a certain outcome. Teaching students to not assess themselves and their work and the outcome of the work and whether it  is in alignment with their own performance/goals, the intended learning outcomes, etc. But also having students reflect on what artifacts they produce and for what purpose. Did they produce what they intended to produce? Reflection is important. 


Students should be thinking about knowledge criteria while getting and giving feedback, as well as thinking about specific knowledge. Do epistemology while doing the subject.. A play between the general and the particular. Expanding the classroom digitally is important to creating environments where they reflect on the value of knowledge they’re learning, on themselves, and the purposes of that knowledge creation.

"Differentiated Learning" means creating active teaching/learning activities where learners become self-directed in their learning. They work at their own pace and pick topics they're interested in, that they will likely never stop learning or being passionate about. Instead of forcing students into a one-size-fits all learning environment, the concepts of productive diversity, collaborative intelligence, etc., can all be used as a productive resource for teaching/learning. Again, the goal is to have learners develop lifelong skills they can apply to their own lives, work, and communities.  

Differentiated Instruction 

It’s easier to transmit knowledge all at once or with one mode/chapter or do one exam at the end but this isn’t taking into account the student differences and needs in personalized learning… but is it the most effective? Not in all contexts. The importance is looking for contexts and courses where courses can be expanded digitally to enhance/address the 7 affordances. 


How do we take advantage of differences in student backgrounds using digital technology outside the traditional classroom where people can work on subjects they like/pick at their own pace? We can’t assume learner similarities we have to assume learner differences in backgrounds, interested, desires, etc. The world is changing and becoming more diverse and connected to education needs to follow suit. 


Expanding the course digitally means that every learner does not have to be on the same page at the same time, complete the task at the same pace, or even be doing the same task. They don’t all have to be the same to be equal. Equality does not mean sameness. 


How do we create courses/assignments that address the different backgrounds/needs of students? A focus on knowledge production and collective intelligence provides environments where local experiences are valorized and are engaged with broader/varied identities and backgrounds, concepts. Etc. Sociology in many ways affords unique learning/growth opportunities to meet the demand of the modern knowledge society. How? Make specific assignments. We want to harness the distinct voices of students not just replicate knowledge because that’s inequality.  It’s also about staying relevant to the youthful university customer. Many students are already so in touch with technology that they might get bored in class if it’s there’s no cognitive load harnessed by tech. 

"Multimodal Meaning & DesignCreating active knowledge makers means designing multimodal teaching/learning activities that create complex epistemic performance through the combination of writing/text, images, video, audio, and other data. Multimodal knowledge representations are created through the design of essays, reports, chapters, books, etc., that properly represents the new communications era. This means.. Each mode holds within it a power and effect individually, but when combined these create powerful and new possibilities making and representing meaning. Creating multimodal literacy helps students create practices that underpin contemporary emphases on innovation, creativity, and problem solving need in a knowledge society. 

Ultimately, learning in multiple ways reinforces knowledge because each mode produces a different kind of information or representations. The digital revolution requires citizens and workers to be effective communicators and representations of knowledge through digital ecologies. It is our job to produce the future citizens and workers of the world.

"Discursive Course DesignCourse designs should include scaffolded, lateral, peer-to-peer interaction by working from a textbook to students, to working one on one with peers/instructors, and also working with multiple students in groups. This means that it’s not longer a few people raising hands in lecture, you create discussion boards where everyone participates and peer reviewed works where everyone gives  each other feedback. Learners need feedback from multiple sources and perspectives (e.g. peers, self, instructors, experts), and feedback on feedback. Constitutive (about the future) and just retrospective assessment (about the past).

Continuous Assessment

The New Learning philosophy is aimed at continuous learner feedback, assessment, and improvement, not only by teachers but among and between learners themselves. The goal is to create learning environments that use multiple forms of assessment strategies that provide learners with continuous feedback on their performance throughout the course/semester. These are continuous assessment environments based on recursive/discursive course design where learners assess themselves and others and receive feedback about their learning? Scaffolding.. 

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