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The Mechanics of Learning

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 @ 12:02 PM
Author: admin

The Mechanics of Learning


Feb. 25, 2010 (work in progress)

There seems to be limitless ways to look at the dynamics of learning. From my mechanic’s perspective, I want to understand the mechanism and the primary process that it is all based on. Fundamentally, it seems to be a system of transferring information from the outside to the inside (of the learner). Then, from the inside back out again.

I have defined this process as the Mechanics of Learning. The Mechanics of Learning is about the journey of information from the outside world, to the inside (our brains), and back out again – starting with the concept of a “system”, journeying through the learner and back out via the learner’s application.

The Mechanics of Learning assembly has 7 fundamental mechanisms that support the process of learning:

Systems > Information > Interface > Tools > Storage > Access > Application (> Interface > Information > Systems)

  1. Systems
    The information journey of learning starts with the concept of a system since everything is a system or at least part of one. This includes everything, everything from building materials to food, actions, thoughts, words, languages, math, air, water, information and us.
  2. Information
    Everything is defined and described by information. Just as gravity holds our universe together and keeps our feet on the ground, information is to the world around us and to learning, as well.  
  3. Interface (In)
    The interface between information and us is our senses. Everything we learn has to go through our senses: Touch, see, hear, smell, taste or perhaps some sixth or seventh sense.
  4. Tools
    Our tools are our mental abilities to interpret, analyze, categorize, organize, access, build upon and apply the information that comes through the interface. Our ability to comprehend what we read for example.
  5. Storage
    Storage refers to our minds ability to store information. Ideally, our information is stored in a connected, organized and categorized manor. Just as important, in a manner that allows for the formation of new connections to our existing knowledge.
  6. Access
    Accessing our knowledge allows us to act upon, grow, compare, adopt and adapt our knowledge for new applications. This ability has a lot to do with our tools and the structure of the storage bank. In other words, the better the tools are at dealing with information, the more likely it will result in a well structured storage (knowledge). It is like the difference of trying to find information on a hard drive that has a well thought out folder structure, as opposed to one with everything thrown into just one folder.
  7. Application
    The application of our information and knowledge. To apply our knowledge is to put it back out into the overall system of the world around us. This is accomplished through the buring of energy in the form of some type of movement that produces a sound, facial expression, jester, writing, sign language or golf swing, etc…

At first glance, these might not seem very helpful or meaningful. The value becomes more apparent when combining them with the Learning Pathway.

The Learning Pathway is about learning-about-learning and taking charge of your learning knowledge and ability. The Mechanics of Leaning is what you are trying to learn and the process we want to master. In other words, the Learning Pathway is about the Mechanics of Learning and vise versa!

Before I get into the relationship between the two, I should point out that one of the main goals of being a better learner is to master information. One of the keys for accomplishing this is to develop the tools (tools) of managing and organizing it. Good management and organization will result in more of a well structured knowledge (storage) – Knowledge that is easy to make new connection with and also adapt and apply (application). 

A common tool for mastering information is visual/graphical representations such as a functional block diagram. This is what the Learning Pathway and the Mechanics of Learning are, although, I often call them assemblies, outlines and sometimes a 360° foundation.

One reason I like the visual representation of information is that it fits into my learning style. Still, regardless of learning style, it is an important tool for organizing information and provides a visual and verbal template for developing a well structured knowledge.

Functional block diagrams break the system into major functions. This in itself makes challenges more manageable by categorizing, which gives us containers to drop new information into – chunking. It also creates a checklist that promotes thoroughness.

Just as important, a good functional block diagram also reveals the relationships of the functional building blocks. In other words, the system processes that they are part of and how they relate within that process.

Keep in mind that it is the "processes" that turn static objects into dynamic systems. It would be like learning about a car and never considering that you could start it up and drive.

The Learnig Pathway and the Mechanics of Learning

Examples coming soon…


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