[back to top]
- Learning might
be characterized by semi-permanent changes in human systems.
- As change is
continuous, so is learning.
- Human systems
have purposeful roles to perform as they belong to purposeful systems
- The whole is
greater than the sum of its parts, and parts cannot be understood
in isolation from the whole.
- Systems theory
holds that there are a set of inter-related and interdependent concepts
and principals that apply to all systems.
- To understand
theses complex connections, a unified form of inquiry is required
that are beyond the competence of any single discipline.
- Systems theory
wants to be the thread that unifies all the natural, physical and
social sciences. We should view systems as integrated wholes instead
of disassembled parts.
specialized scientific research fields are too involved in their own
work to step back and see their connection to other disciplines.
- Systems are
constantly changing as they act and are acted upon by other systems,
hence findings through traditional scientific means represent mere
snapshots of system parts at a given moment.
- Systems are
self-regulating, are always changing but are self-organized to resist
change and restore equilibrium.
- Humans are purposeful
systems, with purposeful parts and are parts of larger purposeful
systems (Ackoff, 1981) eg. value-guided social systems
- Three models
exist to help us understand educational systems: 1) Systems-environmental,
2) Functions/Structure, 3) Process/Behavioral.
educational system in terms of its role in the community and larger
educational system in terms of what the system is at a given time
- At this
stage we look at our system’s goals, identify the functions to
obtain the goals.
what parts of the system can perform the functions etc.
educational system in terms of what the system does over time
- How it receives
and processes input
- How it guides
adaptation or transformation
how the desired output is generated etc.
- Holistic learning
things are, what a person and a society is, what kind of world do
we live in
we know what we know? How do we know what a person and society is?
How do we know what kind of world we live in?
the self-organization of human, artificial and natural systems.
- Systemic vs.
- Open and closed
Relation to other
- Reaction to
the reductionist, linear-causal paradigm of classical science.
cybernetics related to MAC cognitivism
[back to top]
- Naïve, romantic,
idealistic view of the world.
- Parasitic theory
in that systems theory can only exist because traditional (narrowly
focused) scientific research is going on—the type of specialized research
it is so contemptuous toward. (biting the hand that feeds it)
- A nonetheless
important, high-level perspective that not everyone should engage
in, but everyone should be aware of.
- A good perspective
for educational leadership, and other leadership roles.
- The devil is
in the details, and this field (systems theory) doesn’t want to get
in to it—it avoids the details like the plague!
Relevance to Instructional
Systems Design (ISD)
- The field of
ISD provides this sort of bridging of disciplines—gathering the best
and most relevant knowledge from all domains as it pertains to teaching
- A you design
an educational system, consider the ideal system, then add the constraints.
Consider further the audience the system will serve, then its functions,
then how theses functions will be monitored (monitoring subsystem)
- In preparing
individual lesson objectives, ensure their alignment with overall
course and curriculum objectives.
- Examples should
be upwardly contextualized (big picture view)—show how its fits in
relation to other larger systems as opposed to one narrow instance.
Hibino (1990) provide a list of sensible systems-view principles
to guide ISD.
of similarities, remember each problem is unique.
on purposes and expectations, not the problems.
design—stimulates us to work back from an ideal solution.
us that every design setting is part of a larger system. We need
to be aware of the nature of the embeddedness of our design, and
what it may impact.
information—points to the pitfall that too much knowing may
hinder us from seeing innovative solutions.
design—underscores the necessity to involve all people in
the systems affected by your design.
timeline—deliberately build in the capacity for ongoing revision
What I Don’t Know
yet / Questions
- When is a system
so small as not make sense to call it a system anymore? What seems
small to one person, is very complex and huge to another person
- If human systems
have purposeful roles to perform because they belong to purposeful
systems—whose purposes are they fulfilling? The Borg’s?!
- I need to better
understand open-systems thinking, and how I can develop such skills?