Ecotones and Innovation in 21century teaching and learning

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An ecotone is a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities, and it's a concept that Ann Pendleton-Jullian (Director, Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State University) uses to propose a new way to approach education in the 21st century

"The argument against the blending of teaching and research has revolved
around several key assumptions: that information delivered through teaching
unquestionably leads to the building of knowledge, and therefore authoritative
teaching is the most assured way to knowledge building; that the most efficient
way to build knowledge from information is through a disciplinary structure;
and finally, that building knowledge systematically is a necessary prerequisite
to any new thought on a subject, implying a strictly linear sequence from
teaching what is known to finding new things."

"I would like to suggest that the linear route is no longer effective in a time of
exponential increase in information. Today, massive amounts of information
can no longer be sorted into distinct disciplinary territories. Nor can they be
comprehensively learned or assimilated within the traditional educational
structure and time frame of degree-granting, even within one given field."

"A twentieth-century approach to education holds fast
to the notion of teaching as a systematic delivery of knowledge--knowledge
that is vetted and sanctioned and delivered in discipline-based packages from
expert teachers to students. It is education in which one learns about specific
stuff and how to do specific things. In contrast, twenty-first century learning environments are about learning that extends far beyond the classroom (it scales), which in turn promotes
elasticity and agency."


"This is a second paradigm shift in how we think about knowledge, action,
interaction, and agency. It is about learning to manage a complex network of
informational resources and skills so as to develop the capacity to assimilate
them, internalize them and then access them under a variety of situations--
changing, adapting and innovating in different situations and circumstances."

"Project-based environments like the design studio are an excellent example
of scaleable learning because in order to engage the problem, the students
must first decipher it and then determine what they will need to work through
the problem--what skills and information they will need to move forward,
including elements outside the specific domain where the work began. And
then they engage in work that, as it progresses, continually reforms the problem, its constraints, and information + skills needed. Information-rich courses can also operate in this entrepreneurial manner and there are many well proven examples,11 as well as more experimental ones still under development."

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