To me, learning is about experience. I'd like to present this topic at a conference later this year (if accepted) and explore the literature more deeply in the areas of Experience Design, Information Architecture, Educational Design and Experiential Learning...to name some starting points and areas of interest.
So this post and subsequent others will hopefully help to refine some ideas for my presentation...
I concur with Brian at the EDN on his thoughts about learning and experience and our experiences of learning:
Learning is unavoidable in all human experience. This means that learning is, by default, a worldwide phenomenon in which no one individual, tribe, society or nation can claim superiority. By this I mean that learning is a fundamental interface with the confluence of everyday life, regardless of a person's status or location.This is a good starting point for my discussion on designing authentic learning experiences I think. I'm also reminded of the work done by Gubrium and Holstein in their book, Postmodern Interviewing, which through the interviewing process we might subvert the notion of the master narrative, and consider more "democratic" action methods of inquiry (well, learning is about inquiry is it not?). While G and H discuss the master narrative and its demise in relation to postmodern theory, their discussion translates well to the way we might discuss the learning environment. That is, in a postmodern reading, the interview moves away from a 'master narrative' paradigm to a more dispersed nature consisting of many voices situated strongly within contexts, socio-political and personal roles. Again this resonates with Brian's thoughts somewhat.
So nowadays, with a more diverse learner group in higher education for example (which includes distance, off-campus and overseas students), together with the dispersed role of teachers (especially with the increasing use of e-learning technologies), the landscape in which we formally learn is dynamically spreading and changing. Rather 'postmodern' don't you think?
So, with this dispersion and diversity, how might one design for authentic learning experiences? How might such design concepts look, for example? In reading Krishnan and Rajamanickam's (2004) piece on "Experience-enabling Design", I was buoyed by the way the authors asked questions about designing e-learning, in ways I could not. So, I've moved from frustrated designer to a clearer idea of, firstly, what do I need to ask?!
My questions then, are shaping into something like this:
1. How do I design for something that has not yet occurred?These are for starters...and Krishan and Rajamanickam provide some decent pointers to extend expereince design for e-learning.
2. How does my own experience translate to designing for others' experiences?
3. How do I bridge the gap between what I assume the learner should learn and what the learner assumes they will learn?
I sense too, a difference between learner expectation and learner perception, in relation to their learning. In pursuit of this, I've looked through articles and books about research on the psychology of experience and perception, much of which is based on sense-data and not really my cup of tea! (see Follett 1924, 1951; Swartz, 1965). However, Boud, Cohen and Walker (1993) provide a glimpse of experience and how it is we learn through a series of essays they've edited in Using Expereince for Learning. In their introduction, they provide a brief digression in to the nature of experience and its intangibility:
In writing about learning from experience, we have been mindful of the difficulty of writing about 'experience'. It is a term which has preoccuppied philosophers and which many have tried to avoid. It contains ambiguities, it acts sometimes as a noun, at others as a verb, and it is almost impossible to establish a definitive view with which to work (p.6)So, in the first instance it is obviously hard to design for something that is not easily defined! Again how does one design authentic leaerning experiences when individual experience contains many intangible variables?
Next, I'll talk about the design framework, using some of my recent experiences in designing subjects in higher education. I'd also like to return to Brian's thoughts once more...especially his thoughts about our use of story....