Smart learning environments, and not so smart learning environments: a systems view
Smart Learning Environments
It is fruitless to talk of smart learning environments unless we know what is meant by those that are not smart. All environments influence behaviour and, by and large, are in turn influenced by the behaviour of the agents of which they are at least partially comprised. If there were such thing as a neutral learning environment it would support all forms of learning of any skill or knowledge equally well which, manifestly, none do. In this paper, I will argue that most in-person learning
... ments tend to encourage some kinds of counter-productive behaviours and are thus, at a systems level, positively stupid. While we may, with care, time, and ingenuity in our teaching, overcome some of the worst consequences, the costs and stresses caused by doing so are high. Much of the skill of contemporary teaching, and of the smart learning environments we create, is concerned with compensating for problems that are almost entirely caused by the environments in which we teach. Our online learning environments have often replicated and even magnified such stupidity, mainly through focusing on the contingent trappings of in-person teaching rather than the problems that those trappings were originally designed to solve. I go on to consider smartness as an emergent attribute arising out of the interplay of structural and dynamic elements in a learning environment, the most significant of which (especially in an online context) being its creative, independent, and motivated human participants. I will discuss ways in which we can orchestrate systems to create the conditions for (but not necessarily to entail) learning environments that can truly be described as 'smart'.