Information Intake Vs. Information Embodiment

This is one type of learning: the intake of information (…) if the intake of information ends with the intake of information, then it is incomplete. There is another form of learning that doesn’t need discovered, only recovered (…) That Intake must lead to embodiment (…) We only honor a life if we leave different than when we walked in. The only way to truly honor a life is to be changed by it (…) you take in the plethora of information being deposited everywhere you look by everything and everyone you look at (again, undisguising the world), but then you lean into it. You distill it, you parse it, you connect with the “thing” — the gift, the image, the story, the root that arches through what you are learning — and you take it in so as to shape you. You honor that gift that is now seen via knowledge, but then you allow yourself to be changed by it.

Information Intake Vs. Information Embodiment
What will you do with what you learn?

Although I’m not so sure about the tone and the narrative, I like the idea of knowledge creation as the embodiment of information. I am not as sure as to if this is life’s purpose (be changed), I just think this is the only way of deciding at each instant who we want to be and how to get there.

“The idea of becoming is essential,” says philosopher and humanist, Rosi Braidotti

We need to open up the meaning of the identity concept towards relations with a multiplicity, with others. Through opposition to the idea of identity as something completely closed, already formed, and static. We are subjects under construction, we are always becoming something (…)  we are now going through a very complicated political era (…) Theorists are seen as speculators and their task as useless, while we let fake news and alternative facts to spread. The reputation of academics is very poor during periods of populism. We need to stop these attacks on universities, academics and experts. We need to develop a culture of respect for knowledge (…) I believe that revolution today is a fascist concept. I believe that the people calling for revolution are from the extreme right (…) I believe that at present a more preferable option is active activism, a collective commitment to creating affirmative values, rather than joining what seems to me to be a fascist restoration of the notion of revolution (…) I prefer the concept of affirmation. I propose to create affirmative values and to work together. In other words, we need to discuss the problems together (…) What is necessary is a radical transformation, following the bases of feminism, anti-racism and anti-fascism. An in-depth transformation around the types of subject that we are. And that can only happen collectively, by redefining the type of world that ours is becoming. That is the plan.

Student resistance to curriculum changes

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Sometimes, when we talk about learner independence, active learning or agency, we forget that this is not always for granted. Student consensus can not be considered a given. Trying out new things in a course (changing formats, layouts or mediums) produces changes that can be met with resistance and suspicion and it usually takes time until the cohort is convinced that what you are doing is actually working for them.

Student-Centered Learning and Student Buy-In article in Inside Higher Ed shows the results of curriculum change in a Biology course over a period of four years in relation to student satisfaction and acceptance. Pre- and post- course surveys show that student resistance decreased over the years and while grades did not change, the students’ perception of their gains has.

I remember that when we first introduced networked practices in an undergraduate design studio, students were terrified of the idea that their preliminary research and drawings would be published online for everyone to see. When talking about this, some expressed the fear that their ideas would loose their originality or that by the end of the semester everyone would converge to a single design idea/concept. Of course, none of this happened: in fact, it was quite revealing to see how diverse the research approaches and their respective representations actually were from a very early stage in the design process.

But there is also another interesting aspect in this article: the very fact that there was no single teacher but 13 of them. Now, I think this severely enhances the idea of a learning community. It’s not just about changing the format, it is about how you do it. By opening up the curriculum to more researchers and more teachers and by presenting the students with a course that is founded on a collaborative effort you ultimately denounce the idea of the expert and what comes along with that. And it is not by chance that grades have nothing to do with this. The very act of learning and being part of a learning community luckily can never fall into the hands of assessment.

Bruno Latour


  • His early work had done more than that of any other living thinker to unsettle the traditional understanding of how we acquire knowledge of what’s real
  • In a series of controversial books in the 1970s and 1980s, he argued that scientific facts should instead be seen as a product of scientific inquiry. Facts, Latour said, were “networked”;  they stood or fell not on the strength of their inherent veracity but on the strength of the institutions and practices that produced them and made them intelligible. If this network broke down, the facts would go with them.
  • Founder of the new academic discipline of science and technology studies
  • The mid-1990s were the years of the so-called science wars, a series of heated public debates between “realists,” who held that facts were objective and free-standing, and “social constructionists,” like Latour. If scientific knowledge was socially produced — and thus partial, fallible, contingent — how could that not weaken its claims on reality?  Lately, however, these debates have begun to look more like a prelude to the post-truth era in which society as a whole is presently condemned to live.
  • By showing that scientific facts are the product of all-too-human procedures, these critics charge, Latour — whether he intended to or not — gave license to a pernicious anything-goes relativism that cynical conservatives were only too happy to appropriate for their own ends (…) But Latour believes that if the climate skeptics and other junk scientists have made anything clear, it’s that the traditional image of facts was never sustainable to begin with.
  • With the rise of alternative facts, it has become clear that whether or not a statement is believed depends far less on its veracity than on the conditions of its “construction” — that is, who is making it, to whom it’s being addressed and from which institutions it emerges and is made visible. 
  • In Abidjan, Latour began to wonder what it would look like to study scientific knowledge not as a cognitive process but as an embodied cultural practice enabled by instruments, machinery and specific historical conditions.
  • Day-to-day research — what he termed science in the making — appeared not so much as a stepwise progression toward rational truth as a disorderly mass of stray observations, inconclusive results and fledgling explanations (…) During the process of arguing over uncertain data, scientists foregrounded the reality that they were, in some essential sense, always speaking for the facts; and yet, as soon as their propositions were turned into indisputable statements and peer-reviewed papers — what Latour called ready-made science — they claimed that such facts had always spoken for themselves.
  • In the 1980s, Latour helped to develop and advocate for a new approach to sociological research called Actor-Network Theory (…) Latour had seen how an apparently weak and isolated item — a scientific instrument, a scrap of paper, a photograph, a bacterial culture — could acquire enormous power because of the complicated network of other items, known as actors, that were mobilized around it. The more socially “networked” a fact was (the more people and things involved in its production), the more effectively it could refute its less-plausible alternatives.
  • Latour believes that if scientists were transparent about how science really functions — as a process in which people, politics, institutions, peer review and so forth all play their parts — they would be in a stronger position to convince people of their claims
  • Whether they are conscious of this epistemological shift, it is becoming increasingly common to hear scientists characterize their discipline as a “social enterprise” and to point to the strength of their scientific track record, their labors of consensus building and the credible reputations of their researchers.

Excerpts from: Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science, By Ava Kofman published in New York Times, full article available here

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Critical Pedagogy, new book by Sean Michael Morris & Jesse Stommel


Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:

  • Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
  • Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
  • Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
  • Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
  • Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.

Our work, the writers say, has wondered at the extent to which Critical Pedagogy translates into digital space.

In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:

  • centers its practice on community and collaboration;
  • must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to re-imagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
  • will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
  • must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.


Preface by Audrey Watters. Book available for online reading here



the skills of listening to others becomes as important as making clear statements/ the good listener has to respond to intent, to suggestion, for the conversation to keep moving forward/ the difference between the two terms is not a matter of either/or. the heart of it all lies in picking up on concrete details, on specifics, to drive a conversation forward. Bad listeners bounce back in generalities when they respond; they are not attending to those small phrases, facial gestures or silences which open up a discussion.

Dialectic: the verbal play of opposites should gradually build up to a synthesis (…) the Aristotelian notion that although we use the same words, we cannot say we are speaking of the same things (..) the aim is to come to a mutual understanding (…) the listener elaborates the assumption by putting it into words (…) in the Socratic notion, the echo is actually a displacement

Dialogic: first coined by Mikhail Bakhtin to name a discussion which does not resolve itself by finding a common ground (…) though no shared agreements may be reached, through the process of exchange people may become more aware of their own views and expand their understanding of one another (..) knitted together but divergent exchange (…) a dialogic conversation can be ruined by too much identification with the other person.

Excerpts from Richard Sennett’s book, Together: The Rituals & Politics of Cooperation, 2012, London: Penguin Books (pages 18-20)

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Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, by Donella Meadows


PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM (in increasing order of effectiveness)

12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards): even though they rarely change behavior

11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows: they are usually physical entities, not easy to change

10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures): they only way to fix a system is to rebuild it, but physical rebuilding is the slowest and most expensive kind of change

9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change: a system just can’t respond to short-term changes when it has long-term delays,a  delay in feedback is critical relative to rates of change in the stocks that the feedback loop is trying to control. it;s easier to slow down the change rate

8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against: one of the biggest mistakes is that we drastically narrow the range of conditions over which the system can survive, the strength of a negative loop is important relative to the impact it is designed to correct (self-correcting) 

7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops: a system with an unchecked positive loop ultimately will destroy itself (self-reinforcing). reducing the gain around a positive loop -slowing the growth- is usually a more powerful leverage point

6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information): missing feedback is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure

5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints): as we try to imagine restructured rules like that and what our behavior would be under them, we come to understand the power of rules. power over the rules is real power

4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structureSelf-organization means changing any aspect of a system lower on this list — adding completely new physical structures, such as brains or wings or computers — adding new negative or positive loops, or new rules. the ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience. 

3. The goals of the system the goal of a system is a leverage point superior to the self-organizing ability of a system. even people within systems don’t often recognize what whole-system goal they are serving

2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arisesthe shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions — unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone already knows them — constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs about how the world works (Kuhn: keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm, you keep coming yourself, and loudly and with assurance from the new one, you insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.)

1. The power to transcend paradigms: that is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to stay flexible, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension

Full article available here/ Image available here

Networked Learning and the perils of Personalized Learning Environents



  • Goodyear, 2005: Networked learning is learning in which information and communications (ICT) is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors; between a learning community and its learning resources.
  • Ryberg et al., 2012: the ideas of relations and connections suggest that learning is not confined to the individual mind or the individual learner. Rather, learning and knowledge construction is located in the connections and interactions between learners, teachers and resources, and seen as emerging from critical dialogues and enquiries. It seems to encompass an understanding of learning as a social, relational phenomenon, and a view of knowledge and identity as constructed through interaction and dialogue
  • Jones, 2008: networked learning aligns well with social practice, socio-cultural or social learning theories that also situate and analyse learning as located in social practice and interaction, rather than as a phenomenon of the individual mind.

PLEs perils in regard to

  • Experience: may threaten or loosen the shared experience of studying a course
  • Exposure to diversity: may encourage a narrow private view
  • Privacy: user behavior may adapt to the perceived requirements of a sytem
  • Content: it overemphasizes delivery of personalized content at the expense of communication with others (Dirckinck-Holmfeld and Jones, 2009)



Ryberg, T., Buus, L., & Georgsen, M., 2012. Differences in understandings of networked learning theory: Connectivity or collaboration? In L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, & D. McConnell (Eds.), Exploring the Theory, Pedagogy and Practice of Networked Learning (pp. 43-58). Springer Science+Business Media B.V., DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-0496-5_3

Image available here 

Unraveling the relationship between learning and reflection


a deep approach is where the intention of the learner is to understand the meaning of the material/ a surface approach to learning is where a learner is concerned to memorise the material for what it is/ between the two there is a continuum with an hierarchy of stages:

  • noticing: representation is reproduction
  • making sense: representation is coherent reproduction
  • making meaning: representation is of ideas that are integrated and well linked (beginnings of deeper approach)
  • working with meaning: representation is reflective, well structured and demonstrates the linking of material with other ideas which may change as a result
  • transformative learning: representation demonstrates strong restructuring of ideas and ability to evaluate the processes of reaching that learning

REFLECTION has a role in the deeper approaches/ we learn from representing learning/ we upgrade learning/ Reflection:

  • slows down activity, giving the learner time to process
  • helps the learners to develop greater ownership of the learning material
  • it encourages meta-cognition
  • works with materials that are complicated and ill structured and helps students improve their cognitive ability



Moon, J., 2001. PDP Working Paper 4: Reflection in Higher Education Learning. In LTSN Generic Centre, full article available here

Image is Kolb’s circle Experiential Learning concept (1984) available here

The need for a new spirituality/ homo sui transcendentalis


The first motivation for a new spirituality is technoscience, with its associated fabulous economic power, which is simply incompatible with present spiritualities. It drives a hugely irrational force of efficiency for efficiency sake: everything which can be done will be done, for the worst or the best. The second motivation for a new spirituality is the difficulty of the dialogue between different spiritualities, which often appear as antagonistic, as we can testify in our everyday life. The new phenomenon of a planetary terrorism is not foreign to these two problems. In simple words, we need to find a spiritual dimension of democracy. Transdisciplinarity can help with this important advancement of democracy, through its basic notions of “transcultural” and “transreligious” (…) This evolution of mentalities could be achieved only if we perform the unification of Homo religious with Homo economicus (…) Transdisciplinary methodology is able to identify the common germ of homo religiosus and of homo economicus – called homo sui transcendentalis in my Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity



Nicolescu, B., 2010. METHODOLOGY OF TRANSDISCIPLINARITY – LEVELS OF REALITY, LOGIC OF THE INCLUDED MIDDLE AND COMPLEXITY. In Transdisciplinary Journal of Engineering & Science Vol: 1, No:1, (December, 2010), pp.19-38

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Methodology of Transdisciplinarity, by B. Nicolescu or ‘We have work to do till the end of time’


Trandisciplinarity is both unified and diverse.

  • Theoretical: general definition of transdisciplinarity and a well-defined methodology (a methodology corresponds to a great number of methods) (Piaget, Morin)/
  • Phenomenological: it implies building models that connect the theoretical principles with the already observed experimental data in order to predict further results. (Gibbons, Nowotny)
  • Experimental: it implies performing experiments following a well-defined procedure

There are degrees of disciplinarity which can more or less completely take into account the three methodological postulates of modern science.

Three axioms of methodology of transdisciplinarity:

  • ontological_there are different levels of Reality of the Object and the Subject (…) reality is both pragmatic and ontological (…) one has to distinguish the words “Real” and “Reality.” Real designates that which is, while Reality is connected to resistance in our human experience (…) no level of Reality constitutes a privileged place from which one is able to understand all the other levels of Reality (…) Every level is characterized by its incompleteness (…) a finite topological distance could contain an infinite number of levels of Reality. We have work to do till the end of time (…) The Gödelian structure of levels of Reality implies the impossibility of a self-enclosed, complete theory. Knowledge is forever open (…) The zone of non-resistance corresponds to the sacred (…) The unity of levels of Reality and its complementary zone of non-resistance constitutes what we call the transdisciplinary Object, Nicolescu asserts that the different levels of Reality of the Object are accessible to our knowledge thanks to the different levels of Reality of the Subject (…) Our ternary partition (Subject, Object, Hidden Third) is, of course, different from the binary partition (Subject vs. Object) of classical realism.
  • logical_the passage from one reality to another is ensured by the logic of the included middle (…) one necessarily discovers contradictions in the theory describing the respective level: one has to assert A and non-A at the same time (…) in the history of science a theory leads to contradictions and one has to invent a new theory solving these contradictions (…) one has to abandon the third axiom of the classical logic [there exists no third term T which i at the same time a and non-A] , imposing the exclusion of the third, the included middle T.
  • complexity_the structure of the totality of levels of Reality or perception is a complex structure, every level is what it is because all the levels exist at the same time (…) It is useful to distinguish between the horizontal complexity, which refers to a single level of reality and vertical complexity, which refers to several levels of Reality. It is also important to note that transversal complexity is different from the vertical, transdisciplinary complexity. Transversal complexity refers to crossing different levels of organization at a single level of Reality (…) complexity is a modern form of the very ancient principle of universal interdependence (…) The principle of universal interdependence entails the maximum possible simplicity that the human mind could imagine, the simplicity of the interaction of all levels of reality. This simplicity cannot be captured by mathematical language, but only by symbolic language. The mathematical language addresses exclusively to the analytical mind, while symbolic language addresses to the totality of the human being, with its thoughts, feelings and body (…)



Nicolescu, B., 2010. METHODOLOGY OF TRANSDISCIPLINARITY – LEVELS OF REALITY, LOGIC OF THE INCLUDED MIDDLE AND COMPLEXITY. In Transdisciplinary Journal of Engineering & Science Vol: 1, No:1, (December, 2010), pp.19-38

Image available here