Friday, June 4, 2010

Forget social media, learning has always been social....

Over on linked there is a number of discussion forums talking about whether elearning is not as good as classroom and yadiyaditada the debate rages on. However they have been talking about aspects of learning which I think are vital. Especially on motivation. The empirical evidence on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is probably the best available research in our field and it would appear that people are finally realising the importance of it. But they have also touched on the design of learning which forces us to look at instructional design and so many people still operate in instructivist/behaviourist paradigms that they cannot see the wood from the trees. They still feel interactivity with a person is paramount. I think it is but not because of some burgeoning necessity.
Now, if learning created is constructivist in nature then interactivity might be the last thing you need. Also if you have researched your target audience and the level of knowledge and expertise is such that you can take a hugely constructivist perspective on things then the outcomes will be personal to the learner and that is OK as far as I am concerned. That is why you designed it that way. For the learner to take from it what they will. (a simplification but you get what I mean)
I think I have said it before in this thread but learning and enlightenment is contextual and unless we understand the learners context, we cannot succeed as educators or designers irrespective of the medium.
Now when it comes to the workplace I am agnostic but believe in social interaction. Learning is actuated knowledge. It has to be evidenced in actions and behaviour to qualify as learning IMHO. It is the combination of formal and informal, elearning and classroom, webinar and seminar etc that provide opportunities for learning. There is NO significant difference when done well. However human interaction appeals to our social natures and that is what I think people need to understand. Learning is social in its nature. You need to interact with someone to actuate your knowledge. Sometimes that interaction is fleeting and sometimes extensive but you need to interact to validate and actuate. This can be irrespective of the medium too!
Maybe one day there will be a critical thinking component to all roles that asks them how they learn and if they are unsure, the first thing people do when they join an organisation is learn how to learn? Something to ruminate over........

3 comments:

laura said...

I usually work with web-based applications like http://www.showdocument.com
I use it for sharing my designs and documents with partners and clients,
but i guess it can used for other purposes too. If you're looking for a free solution you should check it out.
- Laura W.

mollybob said...

I love Wenger's sentiment on this. He says that learning cannot be designed, but only designed for. As a learning designer and sometime instructional designer, those words underpin my practice. While I recognise that social learning isn't the most suitable solution for everything (that's another discussion), sometimes I think that as designers, we could really benefit from making more use of the constructivist perspective in our orgnisational pursuits... now to build a successful business case ;)

Wilko said...

Hey there Mollybob,

Its funny but I think social learning has moved us closer to more constructivist learning environments and the nature of the learner being responsible for "playing back" what is happening. As long as we can be happy with whatever is played back..... ;o)