Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Visual vs. Collaborative Learning

Chapter five of “Interface Design for Learning” by Dorian Peters (2014) is an excellent overview of the dos and don’ts of educational design media. Peters declares in the chapter title that "Learning is Visual." Peters also provides many solid tips about how graphic design can grasp a learners attention. Another key theme is about removing clutter with simplicity. The book provides valuable checklists, such as tips for “readable text” on page 94.

 In my 2010 development work  "I am Africa This is my story….” UNESCO project on digital storytelling workshops with African youth, we had to pay keen attention that all lessons were simple, localized and relevant.

Instructional designers can perseverate on the cognitive relationship between the student and learning media as the way of student change. However the truth may be that the visual process represents and smaller stake when deeper transformational experience requires a human collaborative process. The acid test of if eLearning works is not in the LMS testing records. Book/media learning may keep someone’s attention or may even deliver good  recall for a test on Friday, but this may not lead to transformational change or the long-term memory retention required for some types of learning.

Andragogy Theory of Knowles points out that the lesson must avoid conflicting with the values/experiences of the learners. On page 110, Peters agrees when the concept of “interference” is brought up. Let’s say we are developing a federally mandated sexual harassment course for a hospital. From a design point of view, the course can be an excellent attention getter, yet without emotionally charged staff meetings (a collaborative element), the course can backfire with employees feeling management is not really dealing with the problem. The design team may be happy with high completion rates and scores, while at the same time, a disappointed compliance officer sees a spike in sexual harassment cases over the following months.

We must be cautious in understanding that digital media is an aid to learning and not the total learning experience. It is one thing to learn Ohm’s law from Kahnacademy.com. It is another to learn how to ride a bike or a give great kiss. The role of graphics is to facilitate human collaboration or change will not take place.

The Instructional designer is often not considering the values of the unseen individual or the environment the knowledge will be used in.  When cultures and methods collide I have seen many sales motivation training or ethics flop. They were professionally designed courses yet are laugh at in bar a few hours later because they sales force knew management did not back those ideas.

In reflection, media can move people into action such as in NGO ads. There must be fertile ground for the lesson to sink into. Relevance seems to be found on two levels: first inside the person's own values system and second is if outside the course there is fertile ground for new ideas to grow.

Case in point: In the US, a student who believes they can be a Microsoft Certified Professional will gratefully embrace the training experience, knowing that a job is waiting for them. Yet women who are certified by Microsoft in Ghana may not find a Microsoft job and be forced back into a marriage and poverty.

In conclusion, the state of the learner and the environment are as critical as the interface itself.

Knowles, M. Holton, E. F., III; Swanson, R. A. (2005). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development (6th ed.).Burlington, MA: Elsevier. ISBN 0-7506-7837-2. LCCN 2004024356.

Peters, D. (2014). Interface design for learning: design strategies for learning experiences. United States: New Riders.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Project for Full Sail Masters The Teaching Kitchen

Click on Vimeo - Password is "full sail"
This is for and AboutMe iMovie project for Full Sail University Master Instructional Design

The Teaching Kitchen - Transformational Learning by Richard C. Close from chrysaliscamp on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Distributive Cognition

The paper, “What Does Distributed Cognition Tell Us about Student Learning of Science?” is a multi-layer analysis of Distributive Cognition research by (Hollan et al. 1999; Hutchins
1995). Distributive Cognition is acutely relevant for today’s education theory because of our collaborative society. Even though we have a global collaborative knowledge base (the Internet) that transcends and bypasses the academic system, most academic theory is not social by nature. The collaborative learning theories of Distributive Cognition have strong relevance in both collaborative web learning and classroom Project Based Learning. What is ironic about this contemporary theory is it establishes the importance of experiential learning theory (that is social) as set forth by Dewey (1916), Lendmen (1927) and Knowles(1980) years ago.

From this paper, Lave (1988) is quoted about Distributive Cognitions theory:

There is a reason to suspect that what we call cognition is in fact a complex social phenomenon. The point is not so much that arrangements of knowledge in the head correspond in a complicated way to the social world outside the head, but that they are socially organized in such a fashion as to be indivisible. Cognitionobserved in everyday practice is distributedstretched over, not divided amongmind, body, activity and culturally organized settings, which include other actors (Lave 1988, p. 1).

This paper provides Distributive Cognition empirical evidence in science classes in a way that demonstrates that learning is a social process. Learning as a group is and more multi-dimensional and contextual than the student-textbook methods. We cannot learn to ride bikes, play baseball or be a physician from books and testing. This research demonstrates how immersion with other people merges cognitive learning in the full context of the human experience, thereby making learning relevant.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: The MacMillan Company.
Hollan, J., Hutchins, E., & Kirsh, D. (1999). Distributed cognition: a new foundation for human-computer interaction research. TOCHI Special Issue on Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium, 7,174196
Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge: MIT.
Knowles, M. S. (1970). The modern practice of adult education; andragogy versus pedagogy,. New York: Association Press.
Lindeman, E.  (1926) The Meaning of Adult Education, New Republic, inc. in New York  2,11,2014 Retrieved
Xu, Lihua; Clarke, David. (1999) What Does Distributed Cognition Tell Us about Student Learning of Science? Research in Science Education. May2012, Vol. 42 Issue 3, p491-510. 20p
Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.