Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thoughts on the learning journey and the role of design

George Siemens' post on his Connectivism Blog yesterday was one I read with interest. Most of what he says is revisiting past territory. A few points I picked out of the post:

  • "Any long term change in our formal learning institutions will be bottom up"
  • Confusion is not a bad thing - in fact, it leads to learning
  • Learners retain content that has value to them
  • Learners are not containers to be filled
  • Learning can be guided but not managed
He also examines the evaluation process, which is something that bothers me less, having little to do with it. I am more interested in evaluating learning material than I am in evaluating the learner.

One point he made, though, was around the responsibility of the designer in the whole process. He contends that "the task of design is to move people towards intended targets". That learning is as much a function of life as breathing and that people learn regardless of the quality of design. Perhaps it's because I'm a designer, but I'm not so sure about that second bit. My own earlier post about "learning by meandering" notwithstanding, if I need something in a hurry, I have no patience with learning material that doesn't deliver in short order. If one resource doesn't provide it quickly and intuitively, I will meander off elsewhere and try again. For me, that's the difference that design makes. If learning material is well designed, it will spit out my required piece of knowledge/information toot sweet. So, yes, I will learn what I want to know in spite of poor design, but I will learn it from the better design. Poor design will not only not move me towards my intended target, it will move me away from the learning resource itself... a bit of a waste, really.

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