Heinz Von Foerster

Heinz Von Foerster, one of the pioneers and co-founders of the field of cybernetics, died yesterday in his home on Rattlesnake Hill in Pescadero, CA. Converge magazine recently printed an interview with this wonderful man. Excerpts:

How do you assess someone else's knowledge? We generally think we have a solution to this question: We give tests. However tests don't test the students: Tests test tests. Let me say that again - tests test tests. Many students flunk tests because they are very bad "testees."

we need to completely transform the role of the teacher. The system considers the teacher to know everything and charges the teacher with filling empty brains with knowledge. This concept is idiotic. Consider the learning situation as a research situation. The teacher plays ignorant and poses a problem: How should we solve this problem? Can you help me? The students then interact with the teacher and with each other to explore, and find answers together. When students interact and help each other, astounding things happen.

Without interaction and feedback, there is no learning. I can share information, and technology and the Internet have enabled that, but understanding requires feedback. It is an essential element of cybernetics. Feedback lets you know whether what you have put out was heard as you intended. Remember, the hearer, not the speaker, determines the meaning of an utterance. You have to interact to be a good teacher. You can see in the eyes of a child whether they understand what you are saying. This feedback tells you whether you have made your point understood. It is up to the student, then, to do something

Do not think about the technology first - think about learning first.

You have to focus on the process. Dialogue is the beginning. If you listen, you come to an understanding.

Also see Ted Kahn's commemorative page at Design Worlds.

Posted by Jay Cross at October 3, 2002 08:55 AM | TrackBack

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)

Subscribe to this Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe. We vow never to share your information with anyone. No Spam.

Subscribe Unsubscribe

Reference Pages

Building Community
CSS, Semantic Mark-Up, and codes
First Principles
How People Learn
Knowledge Management
Learning Links
Learning Standards
Making It Work (Implementing)
Metrics & ROI
Social Software
String theory
The eLearning Museum
Visual Learning


Our Infrequent Newsletter
Sign up for our sporadic newsletter.

Entries by category...

Customer care
Emergent Learning
Just Jay
Recycled from Blogger
The Industry
Workflow-based eLearning


Internet Time Group

© 2004 Internet Time Group

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast
Berkeley, California

Recent entries

New Blog
Blogger Experience, Housekeeping, Something New
Loosely Coupled
Above all
Demographics is destiny
Are you setting the bar high enough?
Virtual Apps
Aerobic Learning
Work as Video Game
Oracle and Macromedia, Sitting in a Tree
The Blogosphere
ASTD Silicon Valley
Performance Support
Kingsbridge Conference Center
First Post by Email
Inactive Blog
RSS Feed for New Site
Comment Spam
Testing ... testing ... 1...2..3
IT Doesn't Matter - Learning Does.
All blogging is political
Mutlimedia Learning
Damn, damn, double damn
Nonverbal impact?
The New Religion
Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!
Business Process Management (2)
Really Big
Business Process Management Conference
Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN
It's only natural
Go with the flow
Time Out for the Fair
Informal get-together in SF this Wednesday
Repetition, reverb, and echoes
Who Knows?
Cognitive Mapping
Push vs pull
The Big Picture on ROI
Art Break
TDF Finale
New Community of Practice Forming
More TDF04
Training Directors Forum 2004
A Rare One-Liner
PlaNetwork LIVE 2
PlaNetwork LIVE
ASTD 2004 Leftovers
Worker Effectiveness Improvement, not KM
Upcoming Events
eLearning Effectiveness?
Jay's Talk at ASTD
Mintzberg & Cooperider
Lest ye forget
ASTD International Conference & Exposition 2004
Knowledge Tips
What is Workflow Learning?
ASTD msg 1 of n
Look out, it's Outlook
Collaboration at ASTD Next Week
Tell me a story
User indifference
The shortest presentation on metrics you will ever hear
Back to Blogger
Windows fixes
The Alchemy of Growth
Grab bag
Very loosely coupled
E-Learning from Practice to Profit
Robin Good kicks off Competitive Edge
China Bloggers
Sonoma Dreaming
Upcoming Events
Emergent Learning Forum: Simulations
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Metrics and Web Services
OpEd: ROI vs. Metrics
e-Merging e-Learning
Loosely Coupled
Search me