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Epistemic Fluency and Mobile Technology: A Professional-Plus Perspective

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What does it mean to be a resourceful and skilful professional in an environment saturated with intelligent devices and connected to diverse knowledge resources and human networks? This chapter discusses the roles of mobile technology in professional work and learning from an extended hybrid mind perspective. We argue that professional knowledge and skills extend beyond individual humans to their physical, technological and social environment. Learning to be a professional means learning to extend and entwine one’s knowledge and skills with ‘intelligence’ that is embedded and embodied in a distributed technology–human environment. In doing so, we argue that practitioners become ‘professional-plus’. They need capabilities to work with different kinds of knowledge and embrace diverse ways of knowing that are distributed across humans with different expertise and machines. We call this capability ‘epistemic fluency’.

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This paper is about interdisciplinary collaboration in a higher education context. The authors have investigated their own experiences of interdisciplinary collaboration through reflexive autobiographical narrative writing and co-generative dialogue. The experience of working in a project which brought together students from different parts of the university was analysed with reference to critical readings about interdisciplinary work. The authors have identified moments of boundary crossing or ‘nodes of tension’ through which relationships were being negotiated and knowledge was being produced. The analysis of these moments shows that interdisciplinary work is intensely relational and dialogic; it takes time and involves significant labour. The authors contend that this labour is essential to building trust and openness to what is unfamiliar, and that universities which seek to promote interdisciplinary collaboration must acknowledge the significant additional work necessary to negotiate nodes of tension.
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Book
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This book, by combining sociocultural, material, cognitive and embodied perspectives on human knowing, offers a new and powerful conceptualisation of epistemic fluency – a capacity that underpins knowledgeable professional action and innovation. Using results from empirical studies of professional education programs, the book sheds light on practical ways in which the development of epistemic fluency can be recognised and supported - in higher education and in the transition to work. The book provides a broader and deeper conception of epistemic fluency than previously available in the literature. Epistemic fluency involves a set of capabilities that allow people to recognize and participate in different ways of knowing. Such people are adept at combining different kinds of specialised and context-dependent knowledge and at reconfiguring their work environment to see problems and solutions anew. In practical terms, the book addresses the following kinds of questions. What does it take to be a productive member of a multidisciplinary team working on a complex problem? What enables a person to integrate different types and fields of knowledge, indeed different ways of knowing, in order to make some well-founded decisions and take actions in the world? What personal knowledge resources are entailed in analysing a problem and describing an innovative solution, such that the innovation can be shared in an organization or professional community? How do people get better at these things; and how can teachers in higher education help students develop these valued capacities? The answers to these questions are central to a thorough understanding of what it means to become an effective knowledge worker and resourceful professional.
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Digital technologies in combination with ‘big’ data and predictive analytics are having a significant impact upon professional practices at individual, organisational, national and international levels. The interplay of code, algorithms and big data are increasingly pervasive in the governing, leadership and practices of different professional groups. They are reshaping the relationships between professional grouping and between professionals and their clients/users/students. New forms of accountability and responsibility are emerging as a result of these trends, raising important questions about culpability and decision-making in professional practice. However, to date, despite the introduction of many professional codes on the use of digital data and social media, these issues have received limited examination in research addressing professional education. This article aims to explore some of these trends, how they are manifested in different professions and what might be the educational implications. Our argument is that new digital technologies are reconfiguring professional practice and responsibility, but that the education of professionals has yet to adequately reflect these changes.
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Responsibility and professionalism are increasingly issues of concern for professional associations, employers and educators alike. When bad things happen, professionals are often held personally accountable for complex situations. Professional Responsibility and Professionalism advances our approaches to professional responsibility from individual-centred, virtue-based prescriptions towards understanding and responding effectively to the multifaceted challenges encountered today by professionals working in dynamic complexity. The author applies a sociomaterial examination to specific examples drawn from different professional contexts of practice. She examines important implications for what professional responsibility and accountability might mean individually and collectively, and what it might be becoming when demands increasingly conflict, and when we accept that capacities for action are performed into existence in emergent and precarious webs of both human and non-human forces. The chapters explore some of the most prominent questions in professional responsibility, including: • What does professional responsibility, and accountability, mean in the escalating complexities and conflicts confronting today's professionals? • How does professional responsibility become developed and enacted, and through what social and material entanglements? • How should responsibility be determined in multi-agency and interprofessional practice? • What happens when professional decisions are delegated to software algorithms and diagnostic instruments? • How are new governing regimes of professional work, such as innovation imperatives, excessive audit and logics of blame and scapegoating, reconfiguring responsibility? • How can professionals respond simultaneously to individuals in need, the obligations of their profession, the demands of their employer and an anxious society? A major concern addressed by each chapter, and the book as a whole, is educating professionals in and for responsibility. Specific dilemmas and strategies are offered for educators in universities, workplaces and professional development contexts who seek new approaches to helping professionals learn to critically understand and practise responsibility today. This book will appeal to a wide audience of education researchers and post-graduate students studying professional practice, professionalism and education across a wide range of disciplines. Health professionals, professionals working in private practices, such as law, architecture and engineering, newer professions such as social work and policing, and educational professionals at all levels will find stories and strategies reflecting key issues of their practice in this detailed exploration of professional responsibility and accountability.
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Chapter
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When historian Charles Weiner found pages of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman's notes, he saw it as a "record" of Feynman's work. Feynman himself, however, insisted that the notes were not a record but the work itself. In Supersizing the Mind, Andy Clark argues that our thinking doesn't happen only in our heads but that "certain forms of human cognizing include inextricable tangles of feedback, feed-forward and feed-around loops: loops that promiscuously criss-cross the boundaries of brain, body and world." The pen and paper of Feynman's thought are just such feedback loops, physical machinery that shape the flow of thought and enlarge the boundaries of mind. Drawing upon recent work in psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, robotics, human-computer systems, and beyond, Supersizing the Mind offers both a tour of the emerging cognitive landscape and a sustained argument in favor of a conception of mind that is extended rather than "brain- bound." The importance of this new perspective is profound. If our minds themselves can include aspects of our social and physical environments, then the kinds of social and physical environments we create can reconfigure our minds and our capacity for thought and reason.
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In this essay, I begin with the premise that everyday organizing is inextricably bound up with materiality and contend that this relationship is inadequately reflected in organizational studies that tend to ignore it, take it for granted, or treat it as a special case. The result is an understanding of organizing and its conditions and consequences that is necessarily limited. I then argue for an alternative approach, one that posits the constitutive entanglement of the social and the material in everyday life. I draw on some empirical examples to help ground and illustrate this approach in practice and conclude by suggesting that a reconfiguration of our conventional assumptions and considerations of materiality will help us more effectively recognize and understand the multiple, emergent, and shifting sociomaterial assemblages entailed in contemporary organizing.
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Effective problem solving, sound decision making, insightful invention—do such aspects of good thinking depend more on deep expertise in a specialty than on reflective awareness and general strategies? Over the past thirty years, considerable research and controversy have surrounded this issue. An historical sketch of the arguments for the strong specialist position and the strong generalist position suggests that each camp, in its own way, has oversimplified the interaction between general strategic knowledge and specialized domain knowledge. We suggest a synthesis: General and specialized knowledge function in close partnership. We explore the nature of this partnership and consider its implications for educational practice.
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The articles in this special issue make valuable contributions toward a scientific understanding of concepts that is broader than the traditional view that has focused on categorizing by individuals. I propose considering concepts for categorization as a special case of concepts. At their clearest, they can be referred to as formal concepts, or concepts used formally,which have explicit definitions and are used in formal deductive reasoning and argumentation. A label for broader aggregations of concepts is functional concepts, or concepts used functionally. This distinction is nearly parallel to Vygotsky's (1934/19876. Vygotsky , L. S. 1987. “Thinking and speech”. In The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 1: Problems of general psychology, Edited by: Rieber , R. W. , Carton , A. S. and Minick , N. 39–285. New York: Plenum. Original work published in Russian 1934 View all references) distinction between scientific concepts and everyday concepts. Formal (uses of) concepts are important products and resources in subject matter disciplines, especially in science and mathematics. I suggest that the distinction between formal and functional (uses of) concepts can support a useful interpretation and organizing frame for efforts to provide meaningful instruction in disciplinary domains.
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Book
This book proposes a theory of human cognitive evolution, drawing from paleontology, linguistics, anthropology, cognitive science, and especially neuropsychology. The properties of humankind's brain, culture, and cognition have coevolved in a tight iterative loop; the main event in human evolution has occurred at the cognitive level, however, mediating change at the anatomical and cultural levels. During the past two million years humans have passed through three major cognitive transitions, each of which has left the human mind with a new way of representing reality and a new form of culture. Modern humans consequently have three systems of memory representation that were not available to our closest primate relatives: mimetic skill, language, and external symbols. These three systems are supported by new types of “hard” storage devices, two of which (mimetic and linguistic) are biological, one technological. Full symbolic literacy consists of a complex of skills for interacting with the external memory system. The independence of these three uniquely human ways of representing knowledge is suggested in the way the mind breaks down after brain injury and confirmed by various other lines of evidence. Each of the three systems is based on an inventive capacity, and the products of those capacities – such as languages, symbols, gestures, social rituals, and images – continue to be invented and vetted in the social arena. Cognitive evolution is not yet complete: the externalization of memory has altered the actual memory architecture within which humans think. This is changing the role of biological memory and the way in which the human brain deploys its resources; it is also changing the form of modern culture.
Article
Proposes a 3-level model of cognitive processing to account for complex monitoring when individuals are faced with ill-structured problems (i.e., problems on which opposing or contradictory evidence and opinion exists). At the 1st level—cognition—individuals compute, memorize, read, perceive, and solve problems. At the 2nd level—metacognition—individuals monitor their own progress when they are engaged in these 1st-order tasks. At the 3rd level—epistemic cognition—individuals reflect on the limits of knowing, the certainty of knowing, and criteria of knowing. Epistemic assumptions influence how individuals understand the nature of problems and decide what types of strategies are appropriate for solving them. While cognitive and metacognitive processes appear to develop in childhood and are used throughout the life span, research on adult reasoning suggests that epistemic cognitive monitoring develops in the late adolescent and adult years. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The purpose of this article is to offer some reflections on the relationships between digital technologies and learning. It is argued that activities of learning, as they have been practised within institutionalized schooling, are coming under increasing pressure from the developments of digital technologies and the capacities to store, access and manipulate information that such resources offer. Thus, the technologies do not merely support learning; they transform how we learn and how we come to interpret learning. The metaphors of learning currently emerging as relevant in the new media ecology emphasize the transformational and performative nature of such activities, and of knowing in general. These developments make the hybrid nature of human knowing and learning obvious; what we know and master is, to an increasing extent, a function of the mediating tools we are familiar with. At a theoretical and practical level, this implies that the interdependences between human agency, minds, bodies and technologies have to serve as foundations when attempting to understand and improve learning. Attempts to account for what people know without integrating their mastery of increasingly sophisticated technologies into the picture will lack ecological validity.
Article
Cognitive ecology is the study of cognitive phenomena in context. In particular, it points to the web of mutual dependence among the elements of a cognitive ecosystem. At least three fields were taking a deeply ecological approach to cognition 30 years ago: Gibson’s ecological psychology, Bateson’s ecology of mind, and Soviet cultural-historical activity theory. The ideas developed in those projects have now found a place in modern views of embodied, situated, distributed cognition. As cognitive theory continues to shift from units of analysis defined by inherent properties of the elements to units defined in terms of dynamic patterns of correlation across elements, the study of cognitive ecosystems will become an increasingly important part of cognitive science.
Article
This article profiles an important class of generic cognitive structures, “epistemic games.” These are general patterns of characterization (e.g., verbal description, algebraic notation), explanation (e.g., covering-rule explanation, analogical explanation), and justification (e.g., deduction, statistical justification) that inform inquiry within and across disciplines. They are necessary although not sufficient for effective inquiry, and learners often have trouble with them. Their importance challenges a highly situated view of cognition, but with qualifications. Epistemic games often constitute areas of expertise in themselves, and often assume distinctive styles within disciplines.
Article
Many teaching practices implicitly assume that conceptual knowledge can be abstracted from the situations in which it is learned and used. This article argues that this assumption inevitably limits the effectiveness of such practices. Drawing on recent research into cognition as it is manifest in everyday activity, the authors argue that knowledge is situated, being in part a product of the activity, context, and culture in which it is developed and used. They discuss how this view of knowledge affects our understanding of learning, and they note that conventional schooling too often ignores the influence of school culture on what is learned in school. As an alternative to conventional practices, they propose cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Newman, in press), which honors the situated nature of knowledge. They examine two examples of mathematics instruction that exhibit certain key features of this approach to teaching.
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