Tuesday, June 14

Sims Without the Cord

"Computer games are more effective learning tools because they sustain interest and attention in settings where people are normally bored." Marc Prensky

I was visiting Plymouth University in the UK last year and I was looking in on one of the classes on Principles of Accountancy. There were four tables, surrounded by four students, all standing and intensely playing Monopoly. Looked like they were having what Marc Prensky overheard one of his students call "hard fun".

Later I asked the Professor why Monopoly? He told me it was a great sim that taught his students some very important principles of accounting that he had added to the game: deferreed revenue, depreciation of assets, accounting for liability, property maintenance costing and more. His creativity had taken a very simple game, added in some complex real-world concepts, and turned it into a wonderful simulation without needing to be plugged in.

Some points worth noting: From the limited research so far, when you need to learn something, especially a process, simulations teach more effectively than work done in a classrooms or with elearning. The only approach that seems better right now is eMentoring (one-on-one learning) especially on-the-job. Simulations seem to work best when they are fun, and when they do not have too high a price tag attached to success or failure. This price tag phenomenon seems to be pervasive. SAT scores for example go up when the students taking the test do not equate the score with admission to college.

Extrapolating from Dr. Isabelle Mansuy's work at the The Neuro Science Center in Zurich, published in Nature, there's an interesting reason why, on a neurochemical level, sims seem to work so well. In a more relaxed environment, the brain consolidates short-term memory into long-term learning more effectively. At the level of brain enzymes, a relaxed environment causes a decrease of a protein called phosphatase-1 (PP1). PP1 has been implicated in everything from being unable to remember where you put your keys to Alzheimers Disease. It's the protein in the brain that seem to help us forget. It increases with age so Senior Moments are a natural occurrence.

Like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, I think pedagogy is looking at the effect and not the cause. Sort of like the magician who waves one hand to take attention away from the other. Now what's that called?

If we are ever to really understand how to help people learn, I think we need to understand the natural learning process, you know, the one that took millions of years to perfect. Then find ways to develop learning programs - like simulations -that work to enable rather than disable that "natural learning process".

What has been your experience with natural learning? How have you successfully (or not) created programs, activities, things to do, games to play, that helped people get into the learning zone? And do you even think this perspective has any merit? Or is it back to the one room schoolhouse and all stick and no carrot?


Bill Bruck said...

My sense is that there's "making it compelling" and there's "making it relevant".

I believe that when we can do the latter, it's better than doing the former. "What's in it for me" is a powerful motivating factor in learning, as in the rest of life.

Charging a lab fee of $200 and giving that $200 back to students to invest in the market, with the possibility of forming small groups and having discussions with the professor to learn the best way of doubling that money might be a more powerful incentive than creating an investment game - who knows?

Clark -

I'll need to read more of your stuff to better understand your three points, but/and I hope you won't mind a couple comments even though I haven't purchased your book.

First, you define pedagogy as explanation, when you contrast it with sims and games. I always thought of it as the art and/or science of instruction/teaching, or more generally choosing the right strategies for teaching. (See the wikipedia article which parallels my thought.) Thus pedagogy (or andragogy if you prefer) would encompass all three of your categories, plus others TBD.

Second, the way you've set out your three strategies assumes a situation where the learner has little or no intrinsic motivation to learn what is being taught. I believe that's the point of Elliott's crumpled paper analogy. I would argue with him and others that when there's a clear line of sight to learning and something that's "in it for me", content doesn't need to be compelling, and that in your example motivation doesn't need to come from games.

There's an implication of this that hasn't been fully teased out in the other comments. If learners are not intrinsically motivated to learn what we're teaching them, do we need a different type or level of intervention, other than to make the content compelling?

Third, in our work, we find that practice with feedback and coached skill application over time are critical pieces to mastering complex new skills. I notice you didn't even mention them. Perhaps we're thinking of different types of learning situations, though.



Bill Bruck (Q2Learning)
Collaborative Learning Blog
Join our CoP at http://cop.collabhost.com

jay said...

I'm missing something in the original post. Natural Learning...developed over millions of years. I'd think that the invention of writing would have changed how people learn?

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

徵信, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 感情挽回, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 感情挽回, 外遇沖開, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 女人徵信, 外遇, 外遇, 外遇, 外遇

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信網, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信