There was some initial discussion on the distinction between problem-based learning (PBL) and inquiry-based learning (IBL). after some discussion the consensus was that PBL inferred the pursuit of answers while IBL infers the pursuit and result f more questions. It's an interesting distinction that i think I will have to give some more thought to.
A question was posed to the group - "Is knowledge situated in contexts?" Personally I think that it has to be, particularly for adult learners who often bring context with then framed by the past learning and experiences. Or as it was put in the workshop, problem solving ability results from domain (knowledge of discipline) expertise and an astute reading of context.
The next topic was the use of stories in problem solving. Personally I use stories all the time to frame concepts - my own past industry experiences, analogies to everyday life, and so on. I find that using stories in problem solving (the case method maybe) helps provide context - we compare and contrast for setting context. Stories have to have triggers - what makes them useful for problem solving?
We then looked at the characteristics of a problem:
- The form of information items
- The organization of items into structures
- The sequence of items
We then moved on to the second theme - "How To Teach Problem Solving". Prior knowledge sets context - have learners pull these individual contexts together. Problems are represented two ways - quantitative and qualitative:
- Quantitative - procedural knowledge, numerical processing skills
- Qualitative - images, metaphors, illustrations, personal identities
Finally as a recap - knowledge is about associations - problem solving teaches us the "how" and the "why" those associations exist and associations state the potential representation of content (I hope to explore the whole issue of content and who should control it over the next couple of days).
A long, mostly content-based afternoon, but some gems came from it - problem solving is recognized as an essential skill regardless of discipline and approaches need to be presented to learners so that they may formulate their own personalized approach to problem solving.
Again it seems that I am doing a lot of good things with problem solving - particularly as it applies to helping learners develop problem solving approaches of their own.
The main conference starts tomorrow - I plan on attending sessions dealing with Web 2.0 and other collaborative approaches to learning.