Chaos, complexity and shameless self-promotion

No, the title is not a complaint, just a confession. You see, I’m rather thrilled about an article that I’ve just had published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL). It’s a journal I’ve long admired for its articles, ‘openness’ and the skills of the founder and editor, Terry Anderson. Over the years IRRODL has built up its reputation and readership (last week there were 10,725 visitors!), to the envy of its competitors, I suspect.

So it is with more than just a little pride that I’ve just had ‘“Chaos rules” revisited‘ published in the ‘Special Issue – Emergent Learning, Connections, Design for Learning’. It’s quite significant for me, in that I’d all but given up publishing, having moved into blissful semi-retirement and the simpler world of blogging.

What prompted me to have a go was the invitation for the special issue from the guest editors, Rod Sims and Elena Kays, who were looking ‘to examine this challenge through a lens of connections, emergence, chaos, complexity, fractals, and quantum theory, which are terms that originated and have been widely studied in the natural sciences, and which are now appearing as important interdisciplinary ways to understand both natural and social sciences, including education.’

This really excited me (though I took a while to actually act on the impulse), as two decades ago my PhD was built on a theoretical base of chaos and complexity. And I’d never really done much with the outcome, moving on to other things after completion, and not publishing anything substantial from it. It was also bugging me just a tad that very few people knew I’d done some work in that area – suddenly it has become a ‘hot topic’, 20 years on!

Luckily the guest editors bought the idea of revisiting the thesis, and the draft was accepted with little modification. And just to add a further note of self-congratulation, this is from the Editorial:

‘The first paper to note is presented by David Murphy in the Research Notes section; his reflections of a PhD journey are insightful and provide a background for the thinking that has informed the focus for this special issue. The ideas and issues raised by David lead us to question whether we should continue to subscribe to the traditions of “instructional design” or whether we need to adopt more chaotic, organic, and ecological models for design, perhaps tapping more into the essence of human learning rather than the mechanics of design.’

So that’s it, I can now return to my benign state and get back to swimming, cycling, walking, reading and enjoying coffee and cherry pastry fingers. Let’s give the final word to the editors, with whom I agree when they claim that:

‘Through these insights we contend that the days of traditional teaching or instructing are limited, that we are on the cusp of different ways of learning such that new knowledge will emerge as a result of both formal/structured and informal/unstructured interactions, and that this knowledge will integrate seamlessly into relevant global networks. Within this context it is simply no longer sustainable to think of designing courses for instructors to deliver; rather, we must design, as best we can, for learning that will be a product of interactions between participants, learning that will come from within and without the formal classroom, and learning that will focus on proactive change rather than reactive recollection.’

2 thoughts on “Chaos, complexity and shameless self-promotion

  1. Pingback: » Diversion: elegant and beautiful … ideas, that is David Murphy's Occasional Blog

  2. Pingback: » I met Mandelbrot … sort of David Murphy's Occasional Blog

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