The EDSN PlexLearning Laboratories

The mission of the Plexlearning Laboratory Center is to explore and articulate affordances of Cyberlearning that further ways of knowing and doing for “human flourishing.”   A National Science Foundation (NSF) task force defined Cyberlearning as “learning that is mediated by networked computing and communications technologies.”

Plexlearning aims to improve our understanding of both opportunities technology mediated education offers as well as side effects it brings - towards open knowledge for solving problems individuals everywhere view as important.

Frank Moss. The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices.

Flourishing includes improving our understanding of both opportunities technology mediated education offers as well as side effects it brings - towards open and accessible knowledge for solving problems individuals everywhere view as important.

Plexlearning is a Cyberlearning education methodology.   Plexlearning methodology is the study of research principles that guide mediated learning research practices, methods and tools.   The terms Cyberlearning education, mediated education, computer-aided education and digital education are interchangeably used here to represent technology mediated education which involves the creation, conveyance and use of knowledge.   Knowledge is defined “as an integrated set of understandings that ultimately can only be constructed by and reside in the mind of the knower.”

Transforming Mindset about Knowledge

In digital communities, mindsets about knowledge are being transformed from passive writing-technology into active digital-technology.    First, writing-technology radically transformed once dominant mindset about oral-literacy by passively allowing humans to convey ideas and emotions without being present.

Now, digital-technology in turn is transforming current dominant mindset about written-technology by autonomously collaborating in active, and simultaneous, communication of ideas and emotions - without human presence.

Implications of Digital-Education

Implications of digital-education transformation are far reaching.    For example, reusable experiences from communication of ideas and emotions are enabling new: learning taxonomies; pedagogical methods and methodologies; sociocultural rituals and traditions all structured around “assisted” skills and related digital footprint (metadata) informatics .

Emergence of assisted skills are bringing into focus un-assisted or “manual” skills that once required great time,

resources and effort to accomplish or master, are now done, on demand, in collaboration with autonomous digital knowledge-assistants (calculators, applications, and robots) or are abandoned entirely by humans.    Some examples include, but not limited to, manual skills for doing “basic” Science Technology Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) computations, and the need for travelling to special locations (knowledge-factories) just to receive “basic” dispensed information in the Arts.

Classrooms of One: Mastery Learning for Everyone; Everywhere

Digital-education makes one-on-one tutoring and mastery learning for everyone, everywhere, possible. In less than a decade ubiquitous basic knowledge has become available in the form of multimedia digital knowledge assistants such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), knowledge search engines, and on-demand tutors.

We at The EDSN PlexLearning Laboratory Center believe personalized one-on-one mastery learning is the next logical step and opportunity for education to evolution.    This logical step would mark a mile-stone in resolving what has come to be known as “Bloom’s Two Sigma Problem.”

In 1984 Benjamin Bloom, best known for defining the Bloom Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, which categorized learning tasks in increasing levels of sophistication,

compared conventional classroom pedagogical methods to what he and his team of researchers classified as “ideal methods.”    His ideal methods require at least two parameters: Mastery Learning and Expert one-on-one tutoring.

Bloom and his team found that students using the ideal method consistently performed better than 98%, or two standard deviations higher, than students using conventional methods.

Bloom concluded that no society could afford to apply his ideal methods widely in conventional classrooms teaching, so “the Search for Methods of Group Instructions as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring” became known as the “Two Sigma Problem.”