The Big Question (my answer better late than never, I suppose)

So, I’ve been away from blogging for quite awhile … but that doesn’t mean I’ve been completely out of the loop. But what with illness, family commitments, lots of volunteering opportunities and good ol’ work … it’s been a most busy time for me – too busy, actually.

Anyway … December’s Big Question of the Month is: What did you learn about learning?

Hmmmm … For me this year has been a gut realization that I did not learn from my successes … rather, my learning – particularly that which has stayed with me and shaped both the way I think and act – is that I learn much more from my failures and mistakes. And I’ve had a few doozies this year!  Embarrassed

So, I could easily say that this was a year full of learning for me.

And nearly all of the learning was informal … oh, sure I took some “real” training (some formal training by way of WBT), but I’d characterize those more as “being exposed to the information” and not like the learning I received from making those boo-boos throughout the year.

Learning from failure sure appeals to the gamer in me … and yet I’m left scratching my head as to what this bodes for the like of me and other ISDers whose job is to design/develop some of the formal stuff that is inflicted on folks.


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
This entry was posted in Big Question, game based learning, informal learning, instructional design. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Big Question (my answer better late than never, I suppose)

  1. Here’s the big question I’ve been asking…

    Most of the time we focus on the question of “what did you learn?” It’s a good question for getting at content.

    However, a question that is often more interesting for educators is to ask the question. ” So, HOW did you really learn that?”

    Once you know the how, you can ask..can this method be easily used to help others? or if I did again, could I have done it faster or better?

    Often there is a huge gap between “how” we are taught and “how” we actually learn. I think there’s a huge benefit for getting them aligned.

  2. Rory says:

    Thank you for your comment, Steve. Yes, there is a greater emphasis on what was learned – which is probably due in large measure to a criterion-referenced mindset of performance statements in a learning objective. Which, of course, is part and parcel of a formally designed/developed training program.

    Even in the salad-days of ISD I don’t think there was much discussion around the how of learning … focus was mostly on ensuring that the what was learned to the standard required.

    And, yes, being able to understand how I learned and move toward figuring out how to replicate that for myself and others in some future learning endeavor is probably quite desirable.

    Yet, what might be a way to describe, replicate and distribute the ‘how’ in a more informal learning environment? That’s a question that is now really tugging at me.

  3. I’ve actually written a lot about competency models and even criterion-referenced approaches. They tend to break things down into small bits like skills, knowledge and attitudes as a result, they miss all the cross linkages which are so critical to apply what’s learned. In a multi-tasking world, they simply don’t work very well.

    I had a very long discussion with the president of a large technical college. He said they are very good at teaching someone how to fix something like an HVAC system but they really aren’t prepared to go out to a customers house because they don’t know how to react. The traditional approach to adding on soft skills didn’t work very well because they couldn’t connect the two.

    So the change in approach is to teach you how to fix an HVAC while talking with a customer including explaining what it costs so much to fix. The idea of teaching the whole task at the same time works better for them.

  4. Rory says:

    Being able to connect what may at first seem separate, unrelated elements (as in your example of how to fix HVAC systems and how to talk with customers) is key.

    Perhaps that is a key consideration when trying to develop and nurture informal learning environments … to make the connections and nodes apparent to the learners.

  5. We’ve been restructuring corporate education for years. What we try to do is look at the complete tasks people need to be able to do. For example with a salesperson it might be making a certain type of sales call or in a factory it might be operating a certain machine.

    We then line up the tasks from simple to complex and easy to hard. So you get good a a basic task or one level of the task and then you move to the next level. This builds confidence as you go and you are actually able to do things before all of the training is done. It’s more of a start to finish approach rather than a topic by topic approach.

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