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How people learn

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A quick overview of some learning issues relating to the use of eLearning systems in organisations for professional development

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How people learn

  1. 1. Professor Ian Macdonald Victoria University
  2. 2. Advance organiser <ul><li>Basic assumptions about learning </li></ul><ul><li>Summary of principles for a good learning environment </li></ul><ul><li>A simple model of “formal” learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chunking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Society’s changing learning needs </li></ul><ul><li>Workplace embedded learning </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a learning organisation </li></ul>
  3. 3. Basic assumptions about learning <ul><li>Learners construct a unique meaning, filtered by, and building on existing understanding . </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is an individual experience , but is primarily a social activity . </li></ul><ul><li>It is what learners THINK and DO that matters most – and that is a decision of the learner . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Good learning environments: <ul><li>Are not be seen by the learner as ‘fixing’ a knowledge deficit in the learner, but are seen as an opportunity to continue to develop and improve on current knowledge . </li></ul><ul><li>Are long term and incremental , not a hurdle to be jumped to achieve a qualification. </li></ul><ul><li>Are on a need-to-know basis, where new knowledge has immediate utility . </li></ul><ul><li>Foster learning primarily by social interaction with peers – with knowledge construction guided and validated by a trusted expert . </li></ul><ul><li>Are as closely situated in the required context for use of the knowledge as possible, to limit the need to translate theory into practice. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Good learning environments cont. <ul><li>Engage the learner in active construction of meaning to solve a real problem in a social context . </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage risk taking and experimentation, with assessment that does not focus on mistakes, but rewards learning . </li></ul><ul><li>Give ample opportunity for reflection on practice , and in practice . </li></ul><ul><li>Give immediate constructive feedback to any attempts to change. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a constant sense of progress and self-efficacy. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Collecting and sorting information based on topic and task . Chunking. Making sense of information. Finding themes and concepts . Using ideas and concepts. Relating to real world situations. Asking “ Why?”, “When?” “What if?” Storing information Processing/Following Understanding More social More individual Check topic and task Conflict or gaps Lecture, resources, reading, internet search, media viewing, information seeking questions. Tutorial, conversation, class discussion, confirming questions, making notes. Assignment, extending questions, debate, application in a context, defending a position. A Simplified model of “Classroom Learning”
  7. 7. Collecting and sorting information based on topic and task. Chunking . Making sense of information. Finding themes and concepts. Using ideas and concepts. Relating to real world situations. Asking “ Why?”, “When?” “What if?” Storing information Processing/Following Understanding More social More individual Check topic and task Conflict or gaps Lecture, resources, reading, internet search, media viewing, information seeking questions. Tutorial, conversation, class discussion, confirming questions, making notes. Assignment, extending questions, debate, application in a context, defending a position. A Simplified model of “Classroom Learning”
  8. 8. 10 seconds to view – then draw
  9. 10. Chunking exercise <ul><li>Draw as much detail as possible of picture. </li></ul>
  10. 12. Chunking exercise <ul><li>Draw as much detail as possible of picture. </li></ul><ul><li>Now correct your work. </li></ul>
  11. 15. Chunking exercise <ul><li>3-5 Items the ideal number to “chunk”. </li></ul><ul><li>Chunks can be “nested”. </li></ul><ul><li>Need processing time to chunk. </li></ul><ul><li>Too many chunks: Cognitive overload . </li></ul><ul><li>We usually over-estimate the size of chunks our students can handle..... </li></ul>
  12. 16. Collecting and sorting information based on topic and task. Chunking. Making sense of information. Finding themes and concepts . Using ideas and concepts. Relating to real world situations. Asking “ Why?”, “When?” “What if?” Storing information Processing/Following Understanding More social More individual Check topic and task Conflict or gaps Lecture, resources, reading, internet search, media viewing, information seeking questions. Tutorial, conversation, class discussion, confirming questions, making notes. Assignment, extending questions, debate, application in a context, defending a position. A Simplified model of “Classroom Learning”
  13. 17. Concepts <ul><li>Generalisable principles that can be applied to many different situations. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers typically spend much more time teaching PROCEDURES. </li></ul>
  14. 18. Battleships Battleship A and Battleship B fire AT THE SAME INSTANT The shells follow the trajectories shown to hit Battleship C. Which shell hits first? Shell from A before B. Shell from B before A. Both shells at the same time? All the information you need is on the diagram! A B C
  15. 19. Battleships <ul><li>The concept you needed to know: </li></ul><ul><li>Horizontal and Vertical motion are INDEPENDENT . </li></ul>
  16. 20. Battleships A B C So?: Which takes longer to go up and down?
  17. 21. Collecting and sorting information based on topic and task Chunking . Making sense of information. Finding themes and concepts. Using ideas and concepts. Relating to real world situations. Asking “ Why?”, “When?” “What if?” Storing information Processing/Following Understanding More social More individual Check topic and task Conflict or gaps Lecture, resources, reading, internet search, media viewing, information seeking questions . Tutorial, conversation, class discussion, confirming questions , making notes. Assignment, extending questions , debate, application in a context, defending a position. A Simplified model of “Classroom Learning”
  18. 22. Questions Information Seeking : What shape is it? [First stage of learning] Who uses this? Confirming: Am I right if I said...? [Second stage of learning] Is this an example of...? Extending: When does this not apply? [Third stage of learning] What if....?
  19. 23. Scripts <ul><li>Patterns of behaviour to automate our lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Scripts are learned. </li></ul><ul><li>Scripts powerfully effect learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Displacement activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Scripts for coping when overload sets in. </li></ul>
  20. 24. In passing... <ul><li>The more you know about learning, the easier it is to make informed decisions about how you do it. </li></ul>
  21. 25. Society’s changing learning needs <ul><li>Traditional </li></ul><ul><li>Modern </li></ul><ul><li>Context well understood and stable </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge and basic skills valued </li></ul><ul><li>Problems to be identified and solution found. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ready reckoning” needed with many approximate solutions memorized </li></ul><ul><li>Limited access to information: must be carried around mentally </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on getting things “right” for a permanent solution </li></ul><ul><li>Professional needs to be self-reliant </li></ul><ul><li>Context new and constantly changing </li></ul><ul><li>High level skills valued </li></ul><ul><li>Problem solving a continuous process </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility, adaptability important </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on selecting best option to deal with immediate needs </li></ul><ul><li>Information constantly available and easily accessed </li></ul><ul><li>Advice and support easily accessed </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly team situations </li></ul>
  22. 26. Business needs. <ul><li>Internal professional development needs growing. </li></ul><ul><li>• Rapid change in professional knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>• Rapid change in technology use </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced knowledge required – often at Post-Graduate level – in order to stay “ahead of the game” </li></ul><ul><li>Need to develop new staff into senior position quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>• “ Crew change” as baby-boomers retire. </li></ul>
  23. 27. Business needs. <ul><li>Want university graduates more “work ready” </li></ul><ul><li>• Communication and team-working skills in particular. </li></ul><ul><li>Low unemployment making recruitment at any level hard. </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t afford to have key staff out of their workplace for lengths of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: Take bright school leavers, and existing employee talent, and “grow your own”. </li></ul>
  24. 28. Needs of Professions. <ul><li>Many professions are looking to establish a tighter identity , and exercise more control over standards i.e.: “Gatekeeping”. </li></ul><ul><li>Professionals want to identify with their professional bodies. </li></ul><ul><li>Professional bodies are looking to be more engaged in setting requirements for entry to the profession, and take a more directing role in the ongoing learning required to maintain accreditation. </li></ul><ul><li>Professional bodies are moving to run their own training programs with their own certification system , as they see university degrees as too generic, and leaving out important skill development . </li></ul>
  25. 29. Student needs. <ul><li>Many potential students are in mid-career , wanting to advance or change their careers, but working full time jobs with other commitments. </li></ul><ul><li>Want qualifications that are valued and recognised nationally and internationally . </li></ul><ul><li>Highly connected socially, often through intensive use of technology. </li></ul><ul><li>Time poor . Study has to fit around busy lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Reluctant to take on large debts for “entry” degrees. </li></ul><ul><li>Want a good learning experience – each is a demanding and well informed consumer of education . </li></ul>
  26. 30. Workplace-Embedded Learning. <ul><li>Study in the workplace using the workplace as classroom . </li></ul><ul><li>Blended learning approach, with web-based materials and communication modes in flexible timeframes. </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic learning/situated learning . Teaching interaction primarily by Subject Matter Experts (SME’s), with educational expertise in the “back room”. Materials “tuned” to context. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis in building overlapping learning communities . </li></ul><ul><li>Start with practice and extract theory frameworks. </li></ul><ul><li>Skill development integrated . </li></ul>
  27. 31. Why is Blended Learning so effective? <ul><li>Emphasis in building overlapping learning communities : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workplace – connection with colleagues in current workplace, for immediate use of knowledge and feedback. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning cohort – connection with the other students studying similar work, building networks across businesses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional – connection with experienced professionals as mentors/SME’s. A future resource. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic – connection with resources, literature and theory frameworks that allow for prediction and modelling. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creates a learning organisation , not just a more learned person. </li></ul>
  28. 32. How to facilitate Learning Communities <ul><li>Communication, </li></ul><ul><li>Communication, </li></ul><ul><li>Communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Structured learning system – linked to job competencies, performance evaluations, and promotions. </li></ul><ul><li>Access to resources – particularly human ones. </li></ul><ul><li>Hurdles/assessments to complete to measure progress – with validation from an expert. </li></ul><ul><li>Accreditation for progress made in a portable and generally recognised form. </li></ul>
  29. 33. The two Paths to Higher Learning <ul><li>Higher Education </li></ul><ul><li>Abstracted knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Frameworks & principles </li></ul>School Communities of practice Professionals SME’s Novices Traditional Learning Traditional = Generic, reductionist, knowledge Application Reflective practice Traditional pathway Participation in broad & dynamic communities of practice via blended learning Lecturers Coaches
  30. 34. A Parting thought... <ul><li>Learn in a career not for a career. </li></ul>
  31. 35. Contacts <ul><li>Professor Ian Macdonald, </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) </li></ul><ul><li>Victoria University, Melbourne. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Ph: 0413 455 393 </li></ul>

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