Cybernetically informed pedagogy in two tertiary educational contexts: China and South Africa

Philip Baron, Christiane M. Herr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Discussing cybernetics as an enacted practice within specific contexts, this paper aims to identify key similarities and differences of two cybernetically informed approaches to tertiary education in the distinct contexts of China and South Africa. Design/methodology/approach: Making explicit and comparing two cybernetically informed educational approaches, the authors identify shared aspects as well as differences arising from their practice in social contexts that have differing norms and values. Findings: The authors find that conversational settings for learning, immediacy of feedback, the key role of the teacher and assessment strategies that are matched to cybernetic learning and teaching strategies all constitute shared vital aspects of cybernetically informed teaching that are valid across two distinct educational contexts. Enacting these key aspects however requires careful adaptation to local contexts. Research limitations/implications: Primarily qualitative in nature, this study is limited to the examination of two bodies of work conducted independently of each other in differing contexts. Practical implications: Arising from the long-term examination of applied educational practice, findings discussed in the paper are intended to inform similar practice in other contexts. The authors however emphasise that enacted ethical practice requires careful adapting of learning and teaching strategies to local conditions. Social implications: Based on the authors’ findings, the authors demonstrate the value of cybernetically informed tertiary education that emphasises ethical settings for learning on the basis of mutuality, equality and social inclusion. Originality/value: Based on two bodies of work that consolidated practice-based insights independently of each other, this paper presents insights on cybernetically informed education that, shown to work well in two very different contexts, may offer a broader applicability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-739
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019


  • China
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Education
  • Radical constructivism
  • Second-order cybernetics
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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