Blooming Confusing

I have a confession. I collect Blooms adaptations. It seems like the making up new Blooms is a very popular pass time of teachers using the Internet these days. Most of them don’t feel particularly interesting, but I tend to bookmark them as I find them as a sort of personal Blooms Museum. Every now and again I find one that is interesting such as this.


You can grab a copy from the author here and get a better quality version. What I like about this is that it’s a loop, not a triangle. It’s also a good attempt at describing the typical problem-solution cycle evident in video games. The author is proposing that these stages can be constructively aligned with Blooms taxonomy.

If you are teaching though an enquiry process, then this loop is relevant. Rather than learning being a series of steps, which might take place over several days or weeks – consider how this could be uses as a daily activity loop. I’d argue that if a child is involved in this cycle – and more importantly can IDENTIFY where they are in the loop at anytime, then it’s highly likely they will be reasonably engaged and productive. Of course the key is to make sure they are immersed in a learning episode that uses these stages.

The start here, I’d suggest is a good way to pre-test and find a way for students to make something that reveals their interests, knowledge, skills, assumptions, biases and errors. All to often lessons seem to start without doing this at all. If the kid can get 60/60 on a pre-test, then why would they bother doing the task.

Think of a video game, the first thing you get to do is choose gender, race, class and a small selection of gear to get started. We all have our preferences here … as we’re often used to playing (learning) in a certain, familiar modality. There’s nothing wrong with allowing kids to work from their preferences – comfort zone – as ultimately they are going to have to move away from it with the problems you set later.

This loop is something that can be actively tracked and reinforced to students during the enquiry. It can be designed into the sequence of learning with ease. It doesn’t have to use the rigid language of Blooms (high to low) and I’ll declare here that I think this is too dogmatic for modern learners anyway. I think this is a pretty innovative way of looking at learning-loops, and if kids get to try and repeat these loops, know where they are, and why they are doing it — then it’s going to help reinforce the essential value of enquiry based learning.

The founding question

How is information organised on the internet? This seems a fair question to ask anyone using it for learning and teaching.

I imagine the answers will include ‘on websites‘,’on computers‘,’using webpages‘,’web addresses’ or perhaps ‘URLs‘. But the word we are really interested in is the one upon which 21st Century Learning hinges – organised. If I was to ask how a book organises information, a music cd or even a library – chances are the response will be narrower and more accurate. Learning and teaching is based on boundaries, discipline, frameworks and reproductive learning. We are working in attainment based assessment.

In all seriousness, if a mechanic was unable to explain how a diagnostic tool worked, then the chances of them finding or solving a problem would be slim. They might have some cognitive knowledge of the tool, but unable to maximise on benefits – or explain them to others. Application of knowledge to solve problems is more important that the cognitive understanding of the ‘tools’. Yet we focus on tools all to often.

In another approach, ask someone to ‘draw’ an organisational diagram to answer the question. The vast majority of people will draw a heiracy, and start with a box, most probably called ‘home’. They will then add nodes that demonstrate a parent-child taxonomy. It’s a fun activity in staff meetings or in class – to evaluate just how accurate their understanding is. We are so used to ‘searching’ that it often the most ‘hit’ page on a website.

We are at a watershed and need to do some self-diagnosis. As a group (class, school, organisation) do we understand how to organise digital information? Do we know where to look for it? Are we creating taxonomies that make sense? let alone creating effective scaffolds upon which students can attain knowledge? If we are creating resources which we hope other people will find … understanding how to organise information seems to be a better strategy that relying on Google’s algorithmic ability to discover it.

Before talking about shifts in education, metaphoric tools,  ‘learning’ theory, models etc, we need to understand how information is organised in the digital world. We know that ‘files’ are put in folders, stored on flash drives and hard drives. We use keywords to look for things on other computers or networks – and are likely to be offered millions of possible places to find it. We seem to accept these odds and complaints that ‘the internet is full of rubbish’.

The ‘beginning’ of relearning about ICTs is to ensure we know how to organise ‘our’ information so it can be found and shared. We need to embed baseline digital taxonomies and make sure staff and students attain this knowledge at the outset. Modelling this – though example (developing frameworks, collaboratively aggregating information etc.) from the ground up – will allow everyone to share in it’s creation and understanding. As students move from one learning situation to another, they are using a common understanding, as the curriculum is has a foundation based on understanding not exploration.

If staff and students are unclear about the answer, then this is the place to start.

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