Taxonomy of learning in knowledge networks
I am science trained and know that in the study of the sciences, taxonomies are not set in stone. The way we classify organisms has changed since I was a Biology student. Back then we also had nine planets in our Solar System, whereas now we have eight because the way we categorise planets has changed. These changes are a great lesson in how knowledge changes over time. Our world views change.
I am keeping this in mind as I explore the learning taxonomies that have played a major role in education, including those shown below in Figure 1.
Are these taxonomies relevant in 21st Century classrooms?
What is a learning taxonomy anyway? According to O’Neill (2010): “Learning taxonomies or classifications are commonly utilised as a way of describing observable learning behaviours and activities that we wish our students to develop.” The following image (Figure 1) shows some Taxonomies along with their dates of publication.
These taxonomies have assisted many educators in describing student learning. So whilst engaging with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Anderson 2001) we learn to describe student learning in terms of listing, memorising, reciting, classifying, reading, rewriting, finding…to perhaps show they have stored prescribed knowledge in their heads. For your interest read Biggs and Collis (1982) to help develop an understanding of SOLO.
However, educators such as Steve Wheeler (2012) are now making sense of new world views where knowledge is more widely distributed and sits outside of the learner. As Weinberger (2011) says: “Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network….”
Should we, in light of the connected world we now live in and the knowledge networks that our students can draw on change the ways we view and describe student behaviour and learning outcomes. After all, we are now just a node amongst many. Things have changed. The information ecology that we now exist in has changed.
Just for interest, the social graph at the top of this post illustrates my LinkedIn network. This can be seen as a good example of a knowledge network.
Another observation is that these taxonomies describe the individual and do not reflect a connected digital world where learning is becoming “increasingly a networked phenomenon”. (O’Connell 2014)
Educators are now discussing connectivism (Siemens, 2004) which is proving to be a good lens through which to explore 21st Century Learning. Louise Starkey (2010) does this with clarity. She argues that 21st century educators will be “limited in their ability to teach the upcoming generation to be active participants in a digitally enhanced society without understanding how to apply theories of learning that are relevant to a digital age into their practice.”
As a simple activity, try Googling “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy’ using Google images. The colourful search result that appears on my screen suggests that we are struggling to fit an old tool to a new purpose. Maybe also, we are trying to fit new digital tools into old taxonomies. Steve Wheeler (2012 June 26) talks of “Bloom reheated”. What are your thoughts on this?
As explored by Bawden (2012) “technology does not change the ways of dealing with information” but information ecologies have changed particularly with the advent of social media technologies. In this new information ecology, should we continue to refer to Bloom’s (revised) taxonomy whilst reflecting on lesson plans and pedagogy. Or should we, you perhaps, refer to a new tool through which you would reflect on your teaching?
Computational thinking might provide new guiding language/taxonomies.
Starkey (2011) argues that the connections that a student makes are an important part of learning in the digital age and “it is through these connections that knowledge is created and critiqued”. This is an extremely important concept that is well worth exploring, particularly if we want to taxonomise such learning while acknowledging collaboration, connections, creation of knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge.
Alongside a group of CSU students scattered through Australia and overseas, I am currently learning to:
- think critically
- learn through connections
- create and share knowledge
Some of the knowledge we are aggregating, curating, tagging, creating and critiquing is shared knowledge as it is stored in and accessible via our knowledge networks. How would Bloom, Fink and Biggs have structured their learning taxonomies to describe the learning that I am participating in?
Bawden, D. & Robinson, l. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187 – 210). London: facet.
Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press
O’Neill, G. and Murphy, F. (2010) Guide to Taxonomies of Learning. Retrieved from UCD website http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/ucdtla0034.pdf
O’Connell, S. (2014) Knowledge Networks – Connected communities, open access, and connected learning [INF530 Module 3]. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from Charles Sturt University website: http://digital.csu.edu.au/inf530/module-3-knowledge-networks-connected-communities-open-access-and-connected-learning/
Weinberger, D. (2011) Too Big To Know. New York. Basic Books
Wheeler, S. (2012 June 26) Bloom reheated. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/bloom-reheated.html
Wheeler, S. (2012 Oct 26th) Theories for the digital age: Connectivism. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/theories-for-digital-age-connectivism.html