Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Learner experience

Pat Parrish and I will be in Orlando in October, presenting an AECT paper titled New Attention to the Learning Experience: Implications for Instructional Design. We present a definition and framework for understanding the learning experience, taking a transactional view based on Dewey. The paper isn't quite ready to share, but here are some slides prepared for my Trends class.

The idea behind the paper is this: Instructional-design practice can be understand in terms of:
- scientific theory (cognitive processing; learning sciences; cognitive load; etc.)
- tools and processes (ADDIE; learning technologies; instructional plans; etc.)
- dedicated craft mastered by committed designers and instructors

This last bullet gets neglected, partly because of the way we value things. Things like science and technology are valued more than arts and crafts. Theory usually gets valued more than practice - teachers are supposed to follow theory, not the other way around.

But I like to cheer for the underdog! Today's world is so saturated with well-designed entertainment resources - movies, TV, games, Web, phone - and their power and influence are becoming obvious. Educators need to acknowledge the power of media and craftsmanship in their ability to wake up learners and get them deeply engaged in experiences. And this requires a different look than educational theory, or even our customary procedures and tools might suggest. We need new ways of talking about learning and instruction - and aesthetics can help out.