update: February 1, 2017
Workshop and Panel Session
transdisciplinary exploratory dialogue
- Annual Convention
for Educational Communications and Technology
- Las Vegas, NV,
- October 17-21,
Pristine Earth (Photo
credit: Jan Visser)
- Dates, times and setting
- The event was
spread over two separate days during the convention. The approximately
six-hour workshop (for invitees only) took place on Monday, October
17, 2016, starting at 3:00 p.m. The two-hour panel session (for
the convention audience at large) took place on Wednesday, October
19, 2016, starting at 2:15 p.m. The two parts of the event were
intimately related. Results of the workshop informed the panel
- The event was
hosted by the Association for Educational Communications and
Technology (AECT), a professional association
with world wide membership of educators and designers/developers
of learning environments interested in improving instruction
and learning through technology. It was an integrated item of
the program of AECT's 2016 annual convention.
- Human Learning
in the Anthropocene (HLA) is a new focus area of exploration,
research and development of the Learning Development Institute.
It comes in the wake of the Institute's prior major focus on
Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM). HLA is not unrelated to
BtSM, but it represents a wider and more acute focus.
- Brief rationale
- Ours is a geological
epochthe Anthropocenein which human activity has
begun to have significant impact on the environment of our planet.
In fact, a growing body of scientific literature exists suggesting
that it is time to stop doing business as usual.
We are becoming painfully aware that there is something terribly
wrong in the relationship between humans and their planetary
environment. The problems we are currently facing are fundamentally
different from those of the past. They are wicked, complex, and
often of planetary import and impact. They require humans to
think differently and to take control of their behavior at a
different level of responsibility. Pertinent questions must thus
does life in the Anthropocene mean for the development of human
How must we, as designers of diverse learning environments
and opportunities, respond to the challenges posed?
- Contributing authors and collaborators
- Jan Visser - chair, moderator and facilitator:
President & Senior Researcher, Learning Development Institute
and Professor Extraordinary, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
- Lene Rachel Andersen - contributing author and virtual workshop
participant: Next Scandinavia, Stockholm, Sweden.
- Elizabeth Boling - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: Professor of Education; Associate Dean for Graduate
Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington - School of Education.
- Ron Burnett - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: President and Vice-Chancellor Emily Carr University
of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
- Carlo Fabricatore - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: Associate Professor and Leader of the Pro-Social
Immersive Technologies (PSiT) research incubator, University
of Huddersfield, UK.
- Brad Hokanson - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: Professor, College of Design, University of Minnesota
and President-Elect, Association for Educational Communications
- Alfonso Montuori - contributing author and workshop participant:
California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA.
- Michael Spector - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: Professor, Learning Technologies, College of Information,
University of North Texas.
- Yusra Laila Visser - contributing author, workshop participant
and panelist: Instructional Designer, Illinois State University,
Bloomington and Vice-President & Research Fellow, Learning
- Lya Visser - rapporteur, videographer, photographer:
Learning Development Institute.
- Biographical information and statements of interest
- Jan Visser
- Theoretical physicist; learning
scientist; lifelong learner; musician; filmmaker; educator; walker.
Passionate explorer of the unknown, driven by the desire to understand
and do so deeply.
- Currently: President & Senior
Researcher, Learning Development Institute and Professor Extraordinary,
Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Prior responsibility:
Director, Learning Without Frontiers, UNESCO.
- Works around the world. Has
lived in four different continents; feels at home in a multicultural
world; enjoys conversing in multiple languages. Straddles diverse
disciplinary areas of scientific pursuit. Views art and science
as intimately interconnected and integrated in a single culture.
Works on transdisciplinary approaches to addressing complex problems.
- Believes the Anthropocene challenge
is a serious one and thus worth meeting.
Relevant paper: Human learning and the development of mind in
the Anthropocene: Reflections agains the backdrop of Big History.
- Economist, futurist and philosopher.
My two main positive drivers are a fascination with complex problems
and the good feeling that comes from helping others to connect
a number of dots so that the world makes sense and becomes meaningful
to them at a higher level in a richer way. My negative driver
is that ignorance scares the crap out of me.
Since 1997, I have focused on technological
development, how it increases complexity in the world around
us, and how our Stone Age-brains can cope with this. I have
therefore dug into big history, cognitive science, evolutionary
psychology, and a number of other sciences in order to contextualize
the technological development, and I think that education, culture
and Bildung are the best answers we have to those challenges.
Together with a Swedish colleague, I am writing a book about
this, The Nordic Secret,
and we are now expanding the circle of people engaged in exploring
these issues, most recently via the Berlin
- Illustrator, designer, maker,
teacher, mentor and scholar. Positive drivers are to strive for
beauty, utility and order while striving also to maintain humility
and respect, with admittedly variable success across the board.
Negative driver is a lingering attraction to the seductively
clean, but ultimately flawed, promise of fully rationalized systems
and determinism in design. In research I seek an understanding
of instructional designers in their own terms, and a path toward
description and intentional development of the disciplined designer
in our field - shifting focus from methods and principles alone
to the humans who use them. In my free time these days I am a
pattern designer - paper and fabric - and a compulsive backer
of indie-designer pens on Kickstarter. My fabric wraps for storing
pens have a miniscule cult following in the pen community.
- Relevant papers: Designerly tools, sketching, and instructional
designers and the guarantors of design and Design: The topic that should not be closed.
- President, builder of a new
campus, theorist of communications, writer, filmmaker and pedagogue.
Currently, President and Vice-Chancellor of Emily Carr University
of Art and Design, formerly Director of the Graduate Program
in Communications at McGill University and Professor at LaTrobe
University in Melbourne Australia. Fascinated with change and
how to manage transformative institutional shifts or whether
they are manageable at all. Working on three books including
one that is entitled "A Biography of Learning," which
is an in-depth exploration of my experiences in the post-secondary
system over a forty-year career. Deeply involved in the development
of Health Design as a discipline and practice.
- Relevant papers: The
Radical Impossibility of Teaching, Learning
in the 21st Century, How Images Think and Culture of Vision: Images, Media and the Imaginary.
- I am a computer scientist and
ergonomist interested in studying complex systems, and the self-regulated
learning and motivational mechanics underpinning human engagement
and development in complex contexts. I believe that the wicked
problems that dynamise our global society require integrative
and adaptive thinking skills and sensibilities innate in all
human beings, but not sufficiently nurtured through formal education.
Throughout my career I have seen how these thinking skills and
sensibilities are successfully fostered by games capable of deeply
engaging players in complex scenarios mirroring "real"
life. In fact, I have seen how human beings are often better
feelers/thinkers/doers when they play "games" than
when they "play real life". Hence, my work integrates
the lenses of complexity, human activity and motivation to explore
the use of games and game-based interaction design in order to
promote engagement in complex contexts and wicked problems and
foster the development of pro-social, complexivist mindsets and
- Coming from a background that
includes art, architecture, and urban design, my current effort
is less defined but within educational technology and broader
My main effort over the past fifteen years has been on developing
creativity through teaching and research, with a forthcoming
book called More Creative: Developing your own creativity.
An evolving thread in my work is an idea called 'beyond content.'
It is a belief that learning must be more than the retention
of information, and that educational technology remains focused
on measuring, dispersing, and remembering informational content.
Traits such as persistence, curiosity, and creativity are not
the focus of our work in education, and they should be. Content
can be the medium to develop these skills, but should not be
the end goal.
I'm also diverted by Argentine Tango, where the steps and the
figures are less important than musicality and the embrace.
- Relevant papers: Beyond
content and The
- I'm an educator, consultant,
and musician. The main focus of my research for the past 30 years
or so has been on how we create our understanding and experience
of the world. The 3Cs, creativity, complexity, and culture have
played in key role in my attempts to address this issue. In the
context of education, drawing on the work of French complexity
thinker Edgar Morin and others, I have been a strong proponent
of transdisciplinarity, and over 10 years ago designed transdisciplinary
Ph.D. at my university, the California Institute of Integral
Studies in San Francisco. The Ph.D. views education as a creative
process, summarized in the term Creative Inquiry. My work is
strongly influenced by my experience as a musician and a producer.
- Relevant papers: The
quest for a new education: From oppositional identities to creative
inquiry; and Gregory
Bateson and the promise of transdisciplinarity.
- I am at heart a philosophical
skeptic in the tradition of Sextus Empiricus - that is to say,
an inquirer, which is what the Greek word skepsis suggests and
the thread that runs through the Outlines of Pyrrhonism. To inquire
implies that one admits to not knowing something (humility),
and, further, that one is willing to commit time and effort in
search of a reasonable answer, which includes questioning assumptions
and considering alternative explanations. Scientists are trained
to do this. We need to extend that training to the general public
so that we treat the environment, our institutions and each other
- I'm an instructional systems
designer with a strong focus on the intersection between theory
and application of effective and innovative instructional and
performance interventions. I have 20 years of applied, and scholarly,
experience working with government, transgovernment, corporate,
nonprofit, military, higher education, international organization,
and school district clients.
Innate curiosity is a strong driving force for me. I have an
implicit desire to explore unknowns and to experiment with new
solutions. I enjoy experimenting with novel interventions and
strive to extend myself into new domains on a regular basis.
In my spare time I'm a prosumer photographer, watercolor artist
and jewelry maker. I swim and walk on a regular basis. Reading
is an important part of my daily life. While these activities
are part of my "spare" time, they are an important
part of my identity, and I am passionate about each of them.
- Relevant paper: On
the difficulty of changing our perceptions about such things
- I have spent many years of my
professional life concentrating on exploring the role of motivational
communication in distance learning environments using not only
cognitive but also affective strategies to assist learners in
reaching their learning goals.
- My focus was on the beauty of
- Lately I have begun to explore
the use of affective communication strategies by expressing my
hopes, thoughts, but also my worries through sculpturing in stone
thereby concentrating on getting an often unwilling slab of stone
to become an affective and effective communication vehicle.
- Again, I focus on the beauty
- For my report on the workshop
and panel session, I hope to record, among all that will be said,
also thoughts about the importance of artistic expression as
a way for humans to transform themselves, focusing on the beauty
of simplicity, in response to the challenges of the Anthropocene.
- DesignHLA report
- A report
on the meeting, covering and reflecting on both the workshop
and the panel session, was prepared by Lya Visser. Jan Visser
was responsible for the final editing.
- Annotated slide series
- Two annotated slide series were
authored and presented by Jan Visser (in lieu of conference papers)
as an introduction to the workshop
and the panel
session, respectively. Follow the links to access them.
- A full-length audio recording
of the workshop (in WMA format), lasting almost five and a half
hours, is available here.
- A full-length video of the Presidential
Panel Session is available, courtesy AECT, here.
- Two panelists took part in the
panel in absentia. Videographed contributions by these
panelists are available for Alfonso Montuori and Lene Rachel Andersen.
- Photo gallery
- A selection of photos can be
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