Saturday, August 22, 2015

E-Learning: Creating Hybrid Learning Experiences--Project Based Learning and Simulations--Part I

If our goal is to create irresistibly engaging learning experiences for both the education sector and the business community then we need to ask what we need to do differently? As mentioned in an earlier post, engagement of learners needs to occur on a personal level. It is not just an intellectual exercise but it must involve the emotional and creative side of people. We don't achieve this level of engagement through pretty visuals,even though they may help. We need to recognize that the learner is a breathing, thinking, creative and emotional being who possesses a natural curiosity about things perceived through the senses. They thrive on challenges that engage them on multiple levels without overwhelming them. It is what we do to reach these levels that is the focus of this post.


Project Based Learning and Simulations: Engaging Hybrid Learning Experiences

 One of the key skill sets that we want learners to be able to acquire is to be able to work collaboratively to solve complex real world problems. Whether this occurs in the business organization or in education organizations, it is a necessary skill set for innovation in a digital world. One of the realizations that we have come to recognize as important in the online world is that learners demonstrate deeper sustained learning by doing so it makes sense to design learning experiences that engage them in challenging, thought engaging, creativity engaging experiences where in the end they create something out of their collaborations. When appropriately challenged in a collaborative group they are quite capable of pooling and directing their talents to solving real world problems.

Stanford University in California, USA has established what is called a  "Problem Based Learning Initiative"  in which they seek to focus on the very qualities in learners that are necessary for engagement of learners on a personal level. According to their initiative:

Your first question will be:

"What does Problem-Based Learning (PBL) have to do with Project-Based Learning?"

At first glance you might assume that they are the same thing but they are not! Both these approaches have enough in common that a digital symbiotic relationship is forged. Project-Based Learning depends on the exercise of the principles of Problem-Based Learning and Problem-Based Learning receives direction and enhancement from Project-Based Learning.

As stated by the Stanford University "Problem Based Learning Initiative", Problem-Based Learning may be defined as:

" PBL is a curriculum development and delivery system that recognizes the need to develop problem solving skills as well as the necessity of helping students to acquire necessary knowledge and skills."

 If you take this hybrid of these two approaches and then design the learning experience in the context of a simulation, this adds another dimension to the online environment that is intriguing, challenging and intensely engaging for the learners. It is along the lines of serious game based learning. It also leads to the potential of unlocking innovative thinking in which the learners create or make something in order to solve a real world issue but done within an online environment and using online tools. This concept is what is at heart of the relatively new "Maker Movement".

Credit: Brian Oatway
 In such an environment, learners immersed in the tasks will show not only intellectual engagement but also emotional, sensory, and moral engagement. A state of flow among collaborative workers will develop where intrinsic motivation is the raw driver of the learning taking place.

I have already bridged this idea before in earlier posts:
  1. Smart Pedagogy III: Time Portal-Journey to the Other Side (The Manhattan Project)-May 31,2014
  2. Super Bug Pandemic Scenario--Aug. 2, 2014
  3. E-Learning of the Future--Ebola and North American Response scenario --Nov. 21, 2014
  4. Search for the Emerald Key---Dec 27, 2014-Jan, 2015   

Next---- The use of simulations as a component of the hybrid learning experience titled: "Return to the Kobyashi Maru Scenario"

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