Explicit vs. Implicit Learning [Conversations on Technology and Christian Faithfulness]


one of the things that I found most interesting this week was from Ursula Franklin’s book The Real World of Technology and the distinction she makes between explicit and implicit learning. So we have these explicit goals. This is what we know we’re trying to aim at in terms of education. But then there’s also a whole lot of implicit learning that goes on the formational, stuff modelling, maybe imitation as well as then character formation and these kind of things that we hopefully are intentionally aiming at part of the time. But a lot of that happens even when we’re not intentionally aiming at it. One of the things that I’ve found interesting is the way that technologies changing, how the relationship between explicit and implicit learning is taking place. So there’s like one of the major ideas that we’ve been talking about this, that technology catechizes people that think about the world in certain ways, and new technologies do that in different ways. And so the explicit goals may be exactly the same as what they were 10 years ago. But the implicit things that the people are learning as they’re moving towards those explicit educational goals might be very different so that they come to think about the world in different ways and engage the world in different ways. And maybe we don’t even know yet exactly what the implicit forms of education are. Yeah and sometimes the implicit learning process is actually more important then the explicit right? So she called it like the by the way, kind of learning right and thinking about what I teach specifically languages that’s actually more important than the content, then sometimes the explicit right. So if we’re teaching languages and say, Looks like a GE class. Realistically, most of the students are not going to, then go on to study it to be, you know, fully functional. balanced bilinguals right, or they might not work in a field where they’ll use it. But it’s the experience, the process of learning, a language that causes you to think differently. You’re using a different part of your brain. And so when I think about shifting the delivery of the content that I teach toe online, I can’t think about like all of I think about all the things that will be lost in that process, right, because there’s a lot that goes on in interacting with other students in the language, thinking about other cultures and how Tio better relate to people that are different than you and I’m thinking about. Okay, a module. How am I going to translate all of those implicit things into a module that’s going to go online? Right. That’s interesting to me, because a lot of times in terms of the online education, people have kind of said, Well, so far there may be have been some people who’ve done online education poorly, but it is possible to do it well and to sort of still get all of those formation all elements that were aimed at in the first place, through discussion boards through discussion time so people can get online and chat with each other in language and so on. But what I don’t think we know yet or maybe haven’t diagnosed it is what actually happens in that formative process. Certainly, forms of social formation happened, but it’s now through this totally different grid rather than embodied person a person conversation. What we’re having is, ah, technologically mediated conversation and maybe again, some of them more explicit goals of okay, I learned that when this person says this, this is the right way to respond and sort of we can kind of mess up together and work on these skills. But what is that doing? Formatively and how they’re thinking about themselves, about the language. It’s about these cultural dynamics. Yeah, I don’t think we even totally know yet exactly what we’re doing to our students and that that’s scary to me. And that conversation is not necessarily verbal either. Right? So all of the communication. So the chats air the discussion boards, you know, are happening in the written form, and then we’re losing all of the, you know, nonverbal. How do I listen? Well, how do I interact in a group? You know, it’s all the same way people are interacting on like Facebook or Twitter. Or so now we’re replicating kind of that bigger system. And teo the education system it and and it seems like sometimes I feel like it seems like we’re compromising too much right there. So if if if our goal is, um the formation of the whole person, I understand the whole market. You know, we have to go where the market is taking us, but it is something that makes you think, How much are we willing to sacrifice? Um, what is truly important in this process, right? She makes another distinction in her conversation about explicit and implicit learning, and that distinction is between information and understanding. And I think that really gets out. What we’re talking about here is that there’s a kind of understanding that happens in the classroom, that they can certainly get information and very similar ways, whether it’s, you know, in their dorm room reading a book or whether it’s online, you know. And they read the book online and then, like you said, discuss it on sort of with discussion post. That’s very different than the kind of understanding and sort of group learning that occurs in a classroom. So, yeah, I do worry that we’re we’re losing something significant there another thing today that from our discussion one day that I found really helpful. We’re the terms for education that you know, for how we think about the thing that we do. So whether it’s educate to lead out, yeah, so don’t, like lead out from one place into another, and then to teach is to point out. So like, Oh, here, let me let me show you where this thing is to the German words building and this in shaft and talking about how building is this idea forming the whole person And how I do worry that just like the whole university in various ways, like the university model itself, sort of progressively is moving towards this in shaft. And if you can prove learning sort of a scientific knowledge of a field than you’ve done your job as an educational institution. But if we’re actually concerned with whole person formation, the formation of souls who can then live well, us, the people of God, then it seems like we just can’t be satisfied with this and show off. Now we have to at least include it. But, I mean, it has to actually be a fairly narrow part of our consideration on building our you know, person formation has to be a much ah, larger percentage of what were actually concerned with. I think that’s the same thing as when you, when you look at, um, like the research one universities and what what is their focus in terms of And how is Biola different from that? How you know, we we see our our mission more as kind of this The formation of the whole person we take I think the teaching part some so much more seriously on in terms of our area of speciality is kind of informing How can we contribute to the formation of of others and not necessarily be like that for my ta to dio right? And I’m going to focus on my area of expertise for the world for the greater cause, right?

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