Inferentialist theories and technology-enhanced learning: a seminar

booksThe Learning & New Technologies Research Group (LNTRG) brings together academics and students in the Department of Education, and works closely with staff in other parts of the University who are engaged in research and practice in the field. The group organises research seminars throughout the year, and on Wednesday 3rd February it welcomes Professor Jan Derry of the UCL Institute of Education to speak on Inferentialism, Knowledge and Technology. Here is her abstract:

This talk is concerned with the human dimension of technology-enhanced learning; many suppositions are made about this but the amount of attention it has been given relative to that paid to technology is quite limited. I will argue that an aspect of the question that deserves more attention than it has received in the work on the application of technologies to education is epistemology on the grounds that the nature of knowledge and the general character of mind are critically important.

I will introduce recent philosophical work concerned with Inferentialism and its connection to the work of Vygotsky. I will argue that Inferentialism offers rich theoretical resources for reconsidering challenges and issues that arise in education. Inferentialism is a theory of meaning which attends to, what is a distinctively human characteristic, our capacity to let one thing stand for another. Key to Inferentialism is the privileging of the inferential over the representational in an account of meaning; and of direct concern here is the theoretical relevance of this to the process by which learners gain knowledge. Inferentialism requires that the correct application of a concept is to be understood in terms of inferential articulation, simply put, understanding it as having meaning only as part of a set of related concepts. It is argued that the implication of these ideas for education differ radically from the pedagogic models that underpin much work on technology-enhanced learning where the suppositions about experience are quite different. Indeed the nature of knowledge is usually presumed rather than examined and often what is taken for granted is awareness as a conceptually unmediated response to the world.

The seminar takes place in the Department of Education, Norham Gardens, from 5.00-6.30pm.

Forthcoming seminars include Stories from Facebook, by Dr Eve Stirling, Sheffield Hallam University, on Wednesday 17th February.

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