Avatar and Game Design with Clark Aldrich

After taking 2 somewhat quiet weeks (of reading, with little synchronous or even formal online participation) in the #change11 MOOC, I am glad to be able to spend a little time this week with the current area of discussion as facilitated by Clark Aldrich. While Clark will speak about Advanced Learning Strategies and Designing Sims, based around his book Designing Sims the Clark Aldrich Way, and given that I have never found games or sims or avatars useful for my personal learning, I think this week may be a nice (or challenging) stretch for me to see potential in areas where I may have missed it previously.

While Clark is evidently a very serious, talented, and sought after professional in this space, I noticed that his work seems to follow (in a most basic manner), the traditional ADDIE model of instructional design. This makes me feel comfortable, as it is somewhat familiar.

I then stopped in my tracks when I read his book, where at its beginning  (pg. 11) , he said:

Competence plus Conviction = Comfort
One core reason to do a sim is to drive competence and commitment. In fact, sims do this better than any other media.

Competence is the ability of a learner to apply the right skills. It can even include use the right words.

But developing conviction in an audience is even more important for most applications. Conviction is the enduring understanding and drive in the learner to do the right thing.

Nothing particularly revealing here, except that this seems oriented toward a positivistic approach where there are right (or correct) skills to apply in this or that situation. After all, how else can a system determine I (or somebody) is competent, unless there are clear guidelines against which one may be measured? This may work well in factories or the military, where a certain compliance to working toward a goal seemingly requires a consistent approach for all people to the same matter; how else can consistency be attained (and thus measured)? While I often build learning interventions in my professional work that meets certain similar approaches, I also find this quite contrary to my own learning preferences.

I struggle when generic learning or processes are applied to me; somehow I often feel I do not readily fit into these sorts of patterns that many learners seem to fit into. No, I am not special or anything like that; perhaps the issue is just that my education and experiences make it increasingly difficult to pigeon-hole me in a way that the objective approaches of sims or games that have clear objectives seek to measure in standardized ways. Perhaps this can be done for repetitive tasks that can be taught to be done in a seemingly mindless way (making widgets, for example), though I struggle consistently doing repetitive tasks! All my efforts right now are toward my doctoral thesis, which is all about creating new knowledge (in some established semblance of a recognizable process, of course!).

With all this said, I look forward to hearing what Clark says about all this in his synchronous session today.

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation & ANT

If this does not support an actor-network theory approach to organizational politics (or the challenges associated with applying quantitative methods to social behaviors), then the black boxes we create to compartmentalize and explain behaviors needs a swift review!


Hot Seat #2 ~ Nets, Sets, and Groups ~ Begins Today

Today begins the second of the Hot Seat discussions in preparation for the Networked Learning 2012 Conference. This time, Terry Anderson and Jon Dron are planning to speak about Nets, Sets, and Groups — a model in one of their articles that they will build on and expand upon through a week of asynchronous discussion (after a recorded synchronous session today).

While this week’s online discussion happens the week of American Thanksgiving, it will be well-worth spending some time with. I think Terry and Jon have their hand on the pulse of how networked learning is changing and developing the approach to distributed and distance in higher education, and that is certainly something we all need to know more about.

Hope to see some of my #change11 and #phdchat colleagues there!



Farewell to Rhizomes #change11

I am very happy our #change11 MOOC week on rhizomatic learning is now behind us.

For anybody not familiar with this, take a look at some of the excellent electronic ink that has been written on it by Dave Cormier (whose energy is quite contagious and who I admire for all his work over the past week with his postmodern approach to interaction and learning), Jenny Makness, Keith Hamon, Terry Anderson, and John Mak, among countless others.

Yes, I know that rhizomatic learning–learning that that happens without a beginning or end or middle or goal or direction or structure or leadership or objective or focus–will happen regardless of our week ending and our attention moving on to another topic. In fact, this metaphor seems to capture much of the richness (for those of us in the education business, if you will) of learning, though it also demonstrates (for those who like to measure everything in a positivistic or scientific manner) how edu-talk sustains itself without improving (or relating to) anything in the world.

With all this, I am left grasping for what all of this rhizome-talk means for us in practice. In other words, what do I do with this now that I could not do 2 weeks ago? Yes, I now have more of a metaphorical language and have had lots of interesting discussions, and while that may be enough to help move me toward my MOOC goals, I am not sure where all this specific rhizome-talk leads, beyond miring us into swirling chatter that leads both everywhere and nowhere, leaving me a bit unsettled.

Slavoj Zizek and Rhizomatic Learning

As Dave Cormier is speaking about Rhizomatic learning this week in the #change11 MOOC, I thought about this recent interview Charlie Rose had with the philosopher and cultural critic, Slavoj Zizek.

While I know that Dave’s work on rhizomatic learning does not have the same critical lens that Zizek uses, his way of seamlessly moving from one topic to another, approaching human experience from different perspectives, speaks to me about what may be possible if we extend this discussion (as learning opportunities surround us) to other areas of learning and experiencing the world. In this way it recalls Dave’s thinking:

The rhizome metaphor, which represents a critical leap in coping with the loss of a canon against which to compare, judge, and value knowledge, may be particularly apt as a model for disciplines on the bleeding edge where the canon is fluid and knowledge is a moving target.

I wonder how rhizomatic learning fits with cultural studies, and if in this way it has a certain interdisciplinarity about it?