All learning should be fun. Surely even accounting instruction could be twisted in a way that would make it immensely engaging and interesting? It’s surely possible, it just needs the right people in the right positions of influence to make it happen.
I remember some of the best learning experiences in high school were game based. Wherever it was fun, learning was easy. The classic whodunit adventure game “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” was a fine geography teacher. It then made an otherwise drab atlas much more interesting.
On a similar topic, I had a discussion with one of my guys today about US politics. It came up in conversation that Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show makes it easy to take in political news. Why? Because it’s darn funny, and with a high level of accuracy to boot. Someone who would never watch the news could sit through The Daily Show, laugh, and learn something along the way.
Again: Make it fun, and it will be easy to learn. Why are there not more fun learning experiences out there?
We take it for granted now, but the level of contribution and collaboration on the Internet, without clear tangible reciprocal benefits for those contributing, is mind-blowing. In a selfish world, the amount of free information, free advice, and free goods (namely software) gives a sense of hope that the human race can indeed band together for the common good. Even more remarkable – this is happening on a global scale. Though I could be considered “Internet-native”, having used it almost daily since 1995, this astounds me still.
I have the utmost respect for opensource programmers, Wikipedia contributors, informative bloggers and those of a similar ilk. Brilliant.
I don’t believe in cookie-cutter approaches to instructional design, though success-backed methodologies obviously have merit. How to engage learners who are in specific situation and mindset? That is, how to make everyone happy all of the time. For something as important as education, this endeavour should never be consigned to the ‘too difficult’ tray.
Tailored learning? Core curriculum modules and tasks which are twisted to fit the real-life scenario of the student, perhaps? Possible with tech + money + creative people today, surely.
It has always struck me how badly academic sites and software is designed, from technical, aesthetic and usability perspectives. Most seem to have been designed sufficiently well from a database/data storage perspective, but this often creates a long ‘click stream’ to achieve a goal, which is bad usability design and results in a frustrating user experience. Graphic designers evidently aren’t on the books of most journal publishing houses and academic software outfits, given the aesthetically unpleasing nature of most academic sites
To learn online or not to learn online, that seems to be the question.
The debate should not be about whether eLearning and emerging web technologies can be used to replace face-to-face teaching. eLearning is a reality today and will only become more mainstream and accepted as time passes. It is likely that there will be a complete blurring in the near future, where there is learning delivered in several ways.
Today’s younger people are comfortable in an online-social environment, and don’t necessarily have preconceived notions of what ‘works best’. The importance placed on physical presence/interaction in learning environments will only diminish over time, creating a market for solid, useful and enjoyable online learning content that may or may not be supplemented with face-to-face meetings.
Further, many of those driving this debate may not fully understand the digital generation (regardless of how much research is conducted), and indicates how important it is to somehow engage, observe and seek feedback from young Internet users. Ideally, they would be part of the process, not just on the periphery.