Saturday, February 17, 2007

Learning by Doing

aka How to develop engaging, interactive learning experiences

I recently finished the second book by Clark Aldrich on educational simulations. Learning by Doing: A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in e-Learning and Other Educational Experiences (Pfeiffer, 2005) is a good primer and foundational piece for anyone interested in educational simulations, which Aldrich defines as:

"A variety of selectively interactive, selectively representational environments that can provide highly effective learning experiences. They do this in part by teaching cyclical and systems as well as linear content.

At the same time they include not only the pure modeling elements of simulations but two other elements:

  • Game elements, to make the experience more enjoyable (or at least less tedious or frustrating)

  • Pedagogical elements, to set up the experience by explaining the critical elements, to help during the simulation, and then at the end to explain what happened and how it ties back to real life.

  • Aldrich goes on to explain this definition as one "only an analyst could love" recalling his background with Garnter. My experience with corporations and vendors working on projects would prove there are many who share this sentiment as we pursue a different way of learning that is more relevant and engaging.

    The first Aldrich book on this topic was Simulations and the Future of Learning: An Innovative (and Perhaps Revolutionary) Approach to e-Learning (Pfeiffer, 2004). This was an excellent case study in how the simulation VirtualLeader was developed.

    Want to purchase your own copies? Click on the links below:


    Anonymous said...

    I too am familiar with Clark Aldrich's work and am glad to see some serious and reasonable attention being paid to better technology-driven educational materials.

    Not sure the "vendor" community is up for the challenge. Most of what I see from them continues to be "page turner" courses which they market as "simulations" ... nice stretch, but not really cutting the mustard.

    Thanks for the blog and the links.

    Anonymous said...

    Like so many other mature industries, the training industry has evolved into an institution. Consequently, the major tech-based learning suppliers are assembly-line manufacturers of stale, bottom-line focused content and delivery modalities -- primarily because the tech-based learning industry has been trying to replace other traditional modalities versus carving out its own identity and also because consumers aren't demanding anything better (the consumers are institutions, too). Think about it -- if today's tech-based training industry thinks it's churning out the very best, then why aren't consumers going crazy for the stuff? It's time for a change.