Getting started on Chapter Two Ecologies of Learning #dissertating

I got my full draft of Chapter One submitted to my adviser on December 21, just before the holidays. I am very proud of this chapter. I have narrowed down the problem I am addressing out of many possibilities and the chapter, and hence the dissertation, feels well grounded and focused. It has taken me two years to get oriented after wrapping up data collection. I have written out at least two full versions of Chapter One before this version. In each of those efforts I was trying to cover too many topics and my description of the problem was too broad. Now I can sum it up in one statement: In the field of education there is a continuing problem of assuming teachers’ ICT preparedness without actually ensuring they have adequate opportunities to develop their ICT perspectives and practices.

Now I have the green light to get started on writing up my Chapter Two Theoretical Framework. For me, personally, this is the most important chapter of this study. Through my work on developing a theory for Ecologies of Learning, I have also developed a new understanding of my own experiences and history. Understanding my existence as a living entity within multi-layered and multi-directional networks of relationships entails a complete re-adjustment from my western philosophical heritage of perceiving my human existence as a superior expression of a transcendent life form in relation to all other life forms on this planet. It also means a profound shift in understanding what I think, and what it is possible for me to think. The myth of individualism, and individual meritocracy does not stand up when we realize that what we think, and what it is possible for us to think, is a composite unity of our life time of experience – we are capable of thinking about things that we have been exposed to, the experiences we have had evolving within our particular ecologies of learning over our lifetime.

An ecology of learning is comprised of the networks of living entities reflexively interacting and evolving over time. It is also comprised of the environment within which these networks of relationships occur. The environment plays a role in providing organizational structure to the ecologies of relationships taking place within it. At the same time, the activities of the living entities evolving within these ecologies of learning are also influencing the future organizational structure of their environment. The organizational structure of the environment also changes over time, in response to the activities of the ecologies of learning that shape its emergence.

This is a very powerful concept, and gives me hope for the future of humanity, and all life on this planet. We do have autonomous agency, but we need to understand that our autonomy and agency are prescribed by the organizational structures of our environment. At the same time, we can influence the future form of our organizational structures and the possible environments that shape our interactivity. Our autonomy and agency are never wholly separable from the environments we depend on to sustain life.

Perhaps this is our greatest challenge, as self-conscious living organisms. We are complicit in the formation of our future possibilities. My hope is that we can utilize this consciousness for the good of all concerned, and foster new ways of life that are sustainable, generative, compassionate, and kind.

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