Theoretical bricolage

This week a vicious feverish flu has influenced my research stay at The Danish School of Education. Nonetheless – or perhaps because of the fever ! – I’ve been able to make some important decisions regarding the use of theory in my PhD. Yesterday I presented my PhD project and SL (hands-on) to a bunch of colleagues from the Research Programme, Media and ICT in a Learning Perspective. It was really nice to be among colleagues who were interested in my findings and had fun exploring SL :-)

In my presentation I focused mainly on theory of remediation, PBL , Experiential learning and the Community of Inquiry-model.  However, I’ve also decided to investigate another meta-theory (or Didactic theory as we would say in Northern Europe); The Theory of Interactive Constructivism. This theory stems from Germany and the work of especially Kersten Reich. Reich founded his thoughts back in the 1990’ies when he called this particular branch of constructivism Systemisch-konstruktivistische Didaktik.  It’s not a theory that I’m particularly familiar with but from readings this week it shows potentials!

Reich and his colleagues at the Cologne Dewey Center have published most of their ideas in German, but have recently started to write in English too (luckily, since my German is a bit rusty!).  Reich and colleague Stephan Neubert have set up a site for their work on Interactive Constructivism, and from a text by Neubert (2008) I quote these theoretical perspectives that demonstrate the foundations of the theory:

  • observers-participants-agents in cultural practices, routines, and institutions
  • processes of communication with particular focus on the dimension of lived relationships
  • the interplay between the symbolic resources of a life-world, the imaginative desire of subjects, and the occurrence of real events
  • the connections between processes of construction, reconstruction, and deconstruction in the cultural production of realities,
  • involvements of discourse and power,
  • cultural diversity, otherness, and incommensurability in multicultural contexts. (p.1)

There seems to be many interesting and relevant perspectives for my PhD work, but what I found especially interesting is their thoughts on reality de-/re-/construction.  Since my object of study embrace 3D virtuality I’m always on the lookout for theories that might be able to include what I call a mixed reality perspective. I don’t think Reich and Neubert have 3D virtuality in mind, when they discuss “the limits of reality constructions”, but I have a feeling that it might be possible to expand their ideas.

I was also delighted to learn that they speak of “imaginative desire” and the social aspect;

According to interactive constructivism, furthermore, these imaginative constructions cannot be separated from contexts of social interaction. That is to say, imaginative desire is always involved in mutual mirror experiences between self and others (…). (p. 9)

By bringing in this theory, I’m hoping to be able to focus more explicitly on the social aspect of teaching and learning – an aspect which Kolb often has been (wrongly in my opinion though!) criticized of neglecting.

In any case, what lies ahead of me is extensive reading and work on trying to create a coherent and relevant theory bricolage, and I’m quite positive, since all of the above theories claim to have found their inspiration in the great work of John Dewey.

More on this will follow for sure …


2 thoughts on “Theoretical bricolage

  1. Carsten Storgaard March 3, 2009 / 2:10 pm

    Rosenthal effect??
    What were we? Your mere lab rats?

  2. Mariis Mills March 3, 2009 / 4:14 pm

    No, but essentially Rosenthal deals with the relation between the teacher’s expectations and the students’ consequent behavior. In answering your, Carsten, two final questions; Has it been hard? and How does this course differ from other MIL courses? the majority of you mentioned the many activities (asynchronous and synchronous) and wrote that it had been hard to follow this course.

    Pearl elaborated on this: “I’ve thought a bit about it, and I think it comes to this; the more interest from the teacher, the more activity from the students. You feel obligated as a student, when the teacher is available as much as it has been the case here”.

    So there is a risk of Rosenthal, but of course I’m hoping your level of activity stemmed from your interest in learning :-) Anyway, as you know, I will cut back on the amount of activities next time around…

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