Thursday, 14 April 2016

Using experts as dynamic knowledge resources and structured learning processes.

The poet Valéry tells us that the purpose of human intelligence is to create anticipations and expectations that will guide an organisms actions along paths that avoid harm and capture good. The philosopher Dennett describes this a Mining the past for the Future. Most peoples models even radical ones such as 70:20:10 learning still treat this as a passive process, listening to the wise authority and perhaps occasionally challenging treat this as a passive task occasionally challenging or refuting if new information doesn't fit with apparent 'truisms'. Questions to experts often then simply duplicate text book knowledge and learning tends to be a linear process. I've used a number of other processes which greatly enhance the take-up of knowledge.
  1. Baker Class I: Testing a structure of knowledge. Specific questions used both to test the structure of knowledge. Often seem either dopey or very acute as they typically probe the fundamentals. 
  2. Baker Class II: Building a structure of knowledge. Specific questions used to add to a the structure of knowledge.Sometimes seem oblique as they may not seem like key questions (those may already be known), but are testing specific limits to the system to understand it more deeply or from a different context
  3. Baker Class III: Veracity testing. May be consistency testing or testing against known benchmarks. There is not a dogmatic approach that the benchmark has to be right - but if you do contradict known benchmarks then the questions may get rapidly more philosophical  to see if you understand and appreciate the implications of your statements.
  4. Baker Class IV: Backfilling questions. These are the questions you ask when applying retrograde analysis. In chess problems, retrograde analysis is a technique employed to determine which moves were played leading up to a given position. There is a whole subgenre of chess problems in which it is an important part; such problems are known as retros. The same applies in understanding real world problems where the questioner is either building a scaffold of knowledge, building enough background to understand the concepts or carrying out an actual formal retrograde analysis.  Often combined with Class III to validate the veracity of the tutors knowledge or of the system of knowledge being imparted.

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