Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Educating Today's Learner
  Second Essential Question

Is learning primarily focused on the transmission of facts and information or is it focused on the development of understanding of concepts and new knowledge?

Learning is both a transmission of facts and information and it can and should be focused on the development of understanding of concepts and new knowledge. It is not enough just to memorize facts and information because facts can change and information is so readily available to today’s learner. It is much more important that the student have an understanding of what they are learning and be able to apply it. Our educational system needs to shift from subject-based to problem-based instruction where the focus is more on learning concepts and not just on content. Humans rely on concepts; they are basic to our intellect. We connect the spoken word to a concept within our brain. I don’t believe that this wealth of knowledge is merely contained within the traditional classroom. It is also acquired through family, church, friends, media, Intranet, etc.

According to authors Lave and Wenger in Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, “…learning is situated in a specific context and embedded within a particular social and physical environment.” In their book, Lave and Wenger clearly define the roles of apprentice and masters, newcomers and old timers in five distinct and diverse scenarios. These assorted occupations all share knowledge in a community of practice imparting both facts and information along with an expectation that the apprentice or newcomer will also develop an understanding of the concepts being taught and of the new knowledge being imparted. This inquiry-based learning process is structured so that the novice learner understands and can relate to simple tasks working their way up to more complex responsibilities. In fact, it is critical that they have a firm grasp of what the “teacher” is trying to teach in order for them to be accepted into the profession.