This reminded me of the Networked Learning Conference in Aarlborg 2010, when Engestrom gave a combined keynote (fishbowl style) with Etienne Wenger (See Part 2 flash format).
In revisiting these videos, I have been struck by how much they both have to say about emergent learning, but in different terms.
Engestrom talks about emergent learning in terms of ‘expansive learning’. At the Networked Learning Conference here are some of the things he said:
‘Learning has to deal increasingly with situations in which the outcomes of learning are not known ahead of time.’
‘Standard learning theories fail to explain processes where learning in radically transformed’.
‘Expansive learning is learning what is not yet there. The object of activity is qualitatively transformed so as to open up a horizon of wider possibilities and new actions.’
Engestrom describes how Gregory Bateson distinguished learning as
- Learning 1 – non-conscious, tacit
- Learning 2 – learning the rules of the game
- Learning 3 – expansive learning – questioning and deviance, but often thwarted or oppressed, marginalized or silenced. (Watch the video with Chris Jones for details)
For Etienne Wenger, identity in communities of practice, lies at the heart of all learning, i.e. social learning and so a learner needs to be able to learn in a landscape of practices.
‘Each practice in a landscape of practice has some claim to competence/knowledgeability’.
‘Your identity becomes a lived reflection of the landscape as you travel through the world.’
‘Interesting learning (happens) in the interaction between landscapes.’
For me these ideas from Wenger and Engestrom suggest that we cannot predict what that learning might be, so in that sense it will be emergent.
Engestrom also talks about boundary crossing as being risky but important for learning.
‘Working at these boundaries (between multidisciplinary disciplines) can be risky because (you) may end up in no man’s land’ – or as we have discussed in relation to Footprints of Emergence, ‘falling off the edge’ of the learning landscape.
Engestrom says that Level 3 learning requires very special support and nurturing and like Etienne he talks about having ‘to pay special attention to issues of creating communities within networks’.
All this has implications for designing for emergent learning, although neither Engestrom nor Wenger explicitly mention emergent learning.