Trinomial Cube

Co-evolution is not just about the learners, or the teachers, or even both - it is about the learning ecology as a whole.

And it is different from co-creation, collaboration (in groups?) or co-operation (in networks?). It is also more than interactive, responsive teaching and learning. It it at the heart of the definition of emergence and emergent learning, and involves the mutual evolution of structure and agency in an integrated system, or a learning ecology. Co-evolution defines the 'emergent curriculum', which is more (and less) than just an 'open' curriculum.

A key aspect of the development of agency is the set of affordances for decision-making, the specific decisions the learners take, and the range of decision-trees or decision-paths that are available to them. The next question is then: How can, and does, the designer (or design-team) respond to these aspects of learner behaviour, and adapt the structure accordingly? The resulting learning, the agents, and the structure of the environment should then all be mutually adaptive, and mutually enhancing.

Dron and Anderson's work in the 'Athabasca Landing' learning environment is mindful of exactly this, (within the contraints of Athabasca University), and treats the learning environment as an adaptive agent in teaching and learning, rather than as a piece of infrastructure - however interactive and 'open' it might be.

Montessori's own classrooms were teaching and learning laboratories, with a highly creative 'back-office' workshop in which new materials were continually being designed and made - active-learning-objects, or learning-temes (see Blackmore's 'temes') - sets of materials form the simplest Scrubbing Tables (for development of gross-motor coordination) to the Trinomial Cube (for learning how to 'expand' the constituent element of the theorem, in practice, using blocks which make up a cube of (a + b + c) 3 (see the picture above).

In both cases the 'structure' of the environment (process, materials, interaction, writing, recognition) is not fixed, but adapts in relation to, and in response to, the way the agents (teachers and learners) learn and grow in the environment.