The Fifth Dimension - #4a

My search for philosophical foundations landed me in the midst of The Fifth Dimension research and practice. The Fifth Dimension is a partnership of post secondary educational institutions and after-school programs to provide play and learning opportunities for children. Though this may seem an unlikely selection for my wiki topic, there are some connections!!

The Fifth Dimension is built upon Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) with origins based on the thinking of such philosophers as Kant, Schelling and Marx. The theoretical framework web page outlines a number of principles. The first is the idea that the practical nature of work (or play) provides humans the ability to form goals, values and outcomes – all of which impact additional progress (Theoretical framework, n.d.). Engagement, then, is a key component of the activity for both present and future success. This appears to be quite sensible, but upon further reading, it appears there is an underlying expectation of engaging all aspects of the human being – i.e., the mind and the body, the emotions and the ‘spirit.’

The second principle focuses on Vygotsky’s social constructivism and zone of proximal development, while the third is similarly related: “An individual engaged in activity is always in contact with a community and its system of social relations that mediate the activity” (Theoretical framework, n.d.). The community and social learning notions are critical in any kind of learning (face-to-face, online synchronous or asynchronous). Furthermore, these situations are representative of the “real” world and serve as a platform for communication, networking, and collaboration – all key components of educational programs.

Using tools not only provides leverage for performing a task, but also “mediate” activity – that is, interact with others, impact the environment, and even create new meaning. This concept in combination with the social activity, the practical application and the engagement factors works well for the Fifth Dimension goals. Further study by Nicolopoulou & Cole (1993) led the authors to conclude that “knowledge, its creation and transmission can be seen as a product of collective collaborative achievement which is influenced by cultural institutional environments” (as cited in Horenczyk, 1996). This powerful statement has the potential to transform the “business” of education – if only in the physical plant alone – if only others are listening…

Horenczyk, G. (1996). [Review of the book chapter Generation and transmission of shared knowledge in the culture of collaborative learning: The fifth dimension, its play-world, and its institutional contexts. In E. Forman, N. Minick, & C. Stone (Eds.), Contexts for learning (pp. 283-314). New York: Oxford]. Retrieved March 29, 2006 from http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Mail/xmcamail.1996_01.dir/0080.html

Theoretical framework. (n.d.). The virtual 5th dimension clearinghouse and propagation center. Retrieved March 30, 2006 from http://www.education.miami.edu/blantonw/5dClhse/theoretical.html


At 9:55 PM, Blogger Joshua O said...

The stress on Engagement in the Fifth Dimension program makes it well-suited to children, Marie. Community and social learning notions are also particularly relevant in this stage (childhood) of the learner's development. This seems like a worthy project, Marie - good find and very educational posting.

Since your vocational learners are at a much different learning stage than the participants of the Fifth Dimension program, which, if not all, of these learning theories do you find especially relevant to your potential vocational wiki users?


At 6:02 AM, Blogger Marie C said...

Not only do wikis offer an engaging tool for collaborative knowledge for vocational students, but they also allow for extension to the real world with potential for "expert" involvement and technology application. Some would argue the differences between pedagogy and andragogy, but one of the key points of adult learning is based on experience and application, which I would contend are also foundational principles of social constructivism - a basic platform from which most of the selected articles have at least touched, if not relied upon. For me, the real challenge is bridging the concept to application in the classroom!!


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