The Sociality Axiom

"In the past few years I have come to realize that there is a reason I move fickly from learning theory to another as my instructional design framework. My seeming inability to commit is best explained by reference to Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom and Krathwohl, 1956 ). When faced with the design challenge of helping students learn material at the bottom of Bloom’s taxonomy, behavioral methods seem most appropriate. As the subject of the design challenge climbs Bloom’s taxonomy, behavioral approaches give way to cognitive methods in my design inclinations. By the time the target material has reached the top of Bloom’s taxonomy, cognitive approaches have completely acquiesced to my social constructivist ideas about facilitating learning.

Imagine the following two non-examples of these connections between the elements of Bloom’s taxonomy and the popular learning theories. First, imagine using a social constructivist approach to helping students learn a long lists of facts. Would you personally want to learn the capitals of the 50 states through a process of discussion and negotiation in small groups of five to seven peers? Probably not; though this approach may eventually be effective, it would be neither efficient nor appealing. At the other end of the spectrum is using behavioral methods to teach students to make complex evaluative judgments. Can you imagine using only flashcard-style drill and practice methods to help students learn to evaluate the ethics of the current US war in Iraq? This approach would probably completely fail to be either effective, efficient, or appealing.

There are many implications to draw from this linking of Bloom’s taxonomy to the historical progression in learning theory, but the implication most important to this chapter I posit as an axiom (for short, the Socialization Axiom): the further up Bloom’s taxonomy a desired learning outcome is, the more important social interaction will be in promoting student achievement of the outcome. (Importance here is judged in terms of helping instruction meet Reigeluth’s (1999) desiderata for instructional designs – that they be as effective, efficient, and appealing as possible.)"

David Wiley. (2004). Sociability and Scalability in Online Learning Environments. Retrieved August 8, 2007, from the Open content Website: http://opencontent.org

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