Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

31 May 2007

Learning by prostheses

Clark @ 8:47 AM

Jim Schuyler, CTO of the Dalai Lama Foundation (and colleague, mentor, friend), writes in his blog:

My contention is that much of what we have to accomplish in educating people is to help individuals understand the limits of their own cognitive (and memory) abilities and find ways to interface with memory and cognition-devices in the external world so they can effectively and productively learn – and I mean learn and learn and learn for an entire lifetime – and make use of what they have learned.

In one sense this sounds a lot like George Siemen’s connectivism, and in another like the meta-learning (learning to learn) that I was promoting with Jay Cross and several others. I still think that meta-learning is a big missed opportunity in the corporate world, and it’s definitely part of the curriculum I’d like our schools to be working on.

It’s about developing a mind-set to steadily and systematically learn along our lives, and having the skills to do so effectively and efficiently. Sounds like the best investment I can think of. We know our limitations: great pattern matchers, poor arbitrary rememberers. Which is why I push my ‘external brain’ (my Treo) to see how much smarter it can make me (part of my mobile learning learning).

As a side note, I wish Sky allowed me to put this comment on his site, but he requires having a log-on and I’ve enough of those already. In general, when I’ve read others’ comments on my blog in their blog, I leave comments on their blog rather than reiterate them here. And maybe I’m missing one of the benefits or responsibilities of blogging? Live and learn, so opinions welcome.


  1. Yeah, meta-learning is the pre-requisite for a happy life of continuing learning. I agree that’s the best investment [anyone] can think of.

    Sky (Jim) Schuyler

    Comment by Sky — 1 June 2007 @ 7:37 PM

  2. I’ve been checking in on your blog for a while. There’s an incredible amount of “food for thought” here. I’m an educator who works from an understanding of learning as (radically) social. This has evolved from a particular reading/ understanding of Vygotsky that leads me to understand the unit of learning (ontologically speaking) as “the group” (the teacher and student, the class, etc.). I’ve co-authored a book for teachers designed to help them make use of theatrical improvisation to create learning environments that make the most of this group understanding. I’d love it if you’d check out the blog (and the book) and give me some pointers, as an experienced blogger. Thanks.

    Comment by Matthew Lundquist — 5 June 2007 @ 10:12 PM

  3. Aren’t meta-learning and stealth learning (earlier post) diametrically opposed?

    Comment by Laura — 14 June 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  4. Laura, I’d have to say I do think meta-learning and stealth learning are diametrically opposed. I did say I didn’t think stealth learning could exist, and I’m very keen on meta-learning, so I don’t have a problem with the opposition.

    Comment by Clark — 14 June 2007 @ 10:26 PM

  5. […]  Observation Four: The emergence of m-learning seems natural to me. The brain itself is a mobile learning device, a Personal Learning Environment of sorts. Humans use technology all the time as an extension of our gray matter – Clark Quinn, an expert in the field, calls his Treo his ‘external brain‘. […]

    Pingback by 8 Observations about Mobile Learning at Praxis Language | Learning on Your Terms — 25 June 2007 @ 1:28 AM

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