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Ecology of the Classroom

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Amy Locklear

on 28 December 2016

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Transcript of Ecology of the Classroom

Ecology of the Classroom: Distributed Consciousness
The Ecology
Ecosystems are systems nonetheless -- thus the Prezi image. Surfaces of one influence impact the surfaces of the next -- watering roots producing growth and a viable habitat for other system residents. It all comes full circle.

Bateson asserts that if we "want to explain or understand anything in human behavior, [we] are always dealing with circuits" (465). The
blogs
of our classroom serve as the means by which "transforms of difference are being transmitted" (465), as we demonstrate not only what we've read but how we are integrating that content -- "what gets into the map" -- as "ideas." The synthesis practiced in the blog spaces represents the "effects" that are caused by "differences; and ideas are differences" (457-8).
Google Docs
Like the trunk of a tree, the spaces in which we work in this classroom all stem from a common originating pathway, one which branches out into spaces such as our
Google Docs,
which
allow us to work collaboratively across spaces. If we consider Bateson's "two worlds of explanation" (462) as the space where learning (cognition) occurs not only individually but also collectively and along a myriad of nodes or activities (distributed), we might consider Google Docs a "bridge" that exists between the physical world controlled by the structural limits of a distance learning classroom (the pleroma, where physical forces are the effects) and the world of the mind or ideas (the creatura, where differences are the effects).
Mindmaps & Tree Surfaces
In the preface to Bateson's book, the writer observes that the central idea is "we create the world that we perceive" (vii).
Mindmaps
illustrate a type of world creation that relies on our perceptions of connectivity -- those "paths and places where behavior occurs" or the
medium
(Gibson 131). The affordances of the Popplet system are similar to what Gibson refers to as the
surfaces and layouts
-- the "basis of visual perception" (132) -- in the structural surface we create to symbolize the ecology of ideas (the texts we read). We "perceive" the layout as we encounter the Popplet command structure, and when that surface becomes messy, we begin to see that affordances' limitations.
Chrome Lego Builder
Every classroom ecology needs objects that facilitate a demonstration of learning. The
Chrome Lego Builder
-- just like the flowers on this fake tree -- serve this need. For many of us, the affordances of this building space illustrated the perceptions of designers vs. users. Norman explains that "actionable properties between the world and an actor" -- or the Building Space as Learning Space and students as builders -- points to the realization that affordances can also refer to "relationship[s]." In our case, we worked to explain how our "builds" represented a theory applied.

However, our metacognitive processing of this knowledge building was occasionally limited by what Norman refers to as conventions that "severely constrain creativity" in that our perception of what this space "afforded" us in terms of designer powers didn't always match what we were able to do with traditional, real Legos. By having to take an activity from the "real world" into the "digital" using strategies and methods dictated by the interface itself, our thinking was forced to extend in unexpected directions.
Perception
Gibson's theory of affordances is
rooted
in the concept of "perception." He argues that "an affordance cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective" (129), suggesting its essential foundational role in any discussion of distributed cognition within a given environment. As Gibson defines them, affordances are what the environment (our classroom as a system) "offers or provides or furnishes" (127) us as students to function as thinking, productive "animals" interacting with elements of the environment.
Affordances of Blogs
Affordances of the blog dashboard such as the features allowing
media insertion,
text
manipulation,
linking or hypertext,
MS Word-like composing spaces
as those things the environment "offers or furnishes" us to create relationships (Gibson 127)

Affordances
The Google Doc, and the Shared Folder feature, creates an environment or system that mirrors the properties of the ecology described by Bateson, specifically "types":
bioenergetics
(466) - "units bounded at the ... frontiers"
documents are created & housed within those frontier spaces of the Google Doc / Drive AND the concept of a document
economies of information
(467) - "boundaries are enclosing pathways"
document creation & storage is afforded by the computer file model
Affordance

Popplet graphical interface conventions (Norman) limit the 3-D nature of representation -- what Bateson might refer to as "ideas" (458). However, Bateson's cybernetic-to-mind effects fit this node of our class perfectly, as we are asked to visually represent textual connections metacognitively through a limited graphic-creation software.
Affordances

The nature of the online space changed the way we were capable of manipulating the representation tools, yet manifests as an example of Bateson's "creating the world we perceive" (vii). Learning the affordances or controls to toggle pieces into place actually seemed to combine Bateson's concepts of pleroma and creatura in terms of effects (462).
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