Hokanson, B. (2017). A New Ecology for Education: Refocusing Educational Technology Beyond Content. In New Ecology for Education—Communication X Learning (pp. 1-6). Springer, Singapore.
Summary. Bran Hokanson’s (2017) paper makes the argument that current education and educational research focuses on students retaining content/information, and while this is useful information, researchers should begin to widen their scope and review more cognitive traits. Hokanson likens this new approach to research and learning to instructional design, in that designers focus on “finding” and “redefining” problems: “curiosity applied and formalized” (pg. 2). A designer, similar to students, in solving problems, doesn’t simply need to know content, but needs to also know how to use the content (Hokanson, 2017). However, Hokanson then points out that even instructional designers have a bit of disconnect from really looking at content in a meaningful way, because they are forced to separate the learning experience from the content but a subject matter expert (Hokanson, 2017). Hokanson proposes that instructional designers should instead begin to focus on developing “instructional methods for persistence and grit, fairness, and curiosity,” rather than just focusing on content retention (Hokanson 2017, pg. 6). In order to ensure continued innovation of education, Hokanson ends by calling out to all instructional designers to develop “an ecology of learning” rather than concepts, practices, and pedagogies that are only focused on content.
Evaluation. This paper is very short, concise, and accessible to any level of academic reader which makes it ideal for an introduction for further research on new ecologies of learning and the role of instructional designers. The paper was published for the HKAECT-AECT Summer International Research Symposium and so it is meant to be reasonably short, but it does read similarly to a literature review with a shorter list of references. With literature reviews there is not any research or raw data included to further show gaps or needs presented by the author, and so the reader has to take the calls-to-action at face value.
Application. This paper is very different from the previous two that I have read and reviewed, in that it does not focus on culture, diversity, or inclusion. However, I believe, as an aspiring instructional designer in a doctoral program, this provides me with the opportunity to brainstorm how instructional designers can utilize the concept of learning ecology and apply it to research on the various cultural contexts that can impact student learning. Learning ecology can be defined as “the set of contexts found in physical or virtual spaces that provide opportunities for learning” (Barron, 2006, 195). What types or sets of contexts do students of color have that are different from their Caucasian peers and how does the effect their educational experience? And in turn, how can instruction designers address these differences in a meaningful way, using educational technology, to innovate and improve the learner’s experience?
Barron, B. (2006). Interest and self-sustained learning as catalysts of development: A learning ecologies perspective. Human Development, 49, 193-224.