Friday, May 13, 2016

The Challenge of Adapting New Technologies to E-Learning--Part III

Technologies that serve the need of making experiential learning appeal to a majority of the human senses means that our online learning experiences will create a greater degree of deeper learning that will last longer than any methods employed in the past.
Human beings' ability to interpret and act within their environment depends upon the data streams coming into our brains through our senses. In cases of where one particular sense has been reduced or completely eliminated, the remarkable human brain adapts by extending the range of sensitivity to the other data streams from the other senses. This is why when an individual loses their sight that their hearing, sense of smell and tactile senses become more acute and the focus switches to these data streams. This enables the brain of the individual to make sense of and navigate their environment.. Actions taken using the information results in feedback to the brain which then interprets and adjust further actions. So, the question becomes:

Why is this concept important to understand in relation to E-Learning and pedagogy?

This means that the more a pedagogical approach is able to appeal to a majority of the senses of a learner the more likely that the learner is going to be totally engaged and intrinsically motivated to follow the learning experience through. It is for this very reason that scenario learning experiences, serious games and simulation learning are so effective. Game designers understand the importance of this concept. Take a count of the number of senses that the new more advanced online games appeal to and notice that in some cases, such as X-Box 360 & X-Box One, that technology accessories (ie: "the Wii") are designed to incorporate the use of the tactile senses. Movie theaters understand the growing importance of this concept of multi-sensory stimulation with adaptations to appeal not just to motion sense but even the olfactory human sense.

The Promise of Augmented Technology in E-Learning
Augmented technology could be useful in helping to reach further and transform pedagogy more and more within an online environment.

This is especially true when it comes to a new skillset that is rising in importance and in fact is already touted in some science fiction movies as the skillset of the future. The skillset I am referring to is the ability to access, draw from and contribute to multiple databases at the same time.
To understand this, consider a simple analogy.

When a student was given a student project by a classroom teacher, one of the approaches the student might take when working at this at home, would be to gather a variety of books from a library, sit at a table and open the books in a semi-circle, each to an important section that the student might want to draw pertinent information from. An important distinction to make here is this is NOT multitasking because these various sources of information are being drawn on for the purpose of excelling in one task and not a multitude of tasks.
Putting this analogy in an augmented technology digital form we have happening something similar to what the infamous Tony Stark was doing in the Iron Man movies series.

The skills required involving actively searching for, analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing information from a variety of databases that can be brought to focus on the complex real world problem that the learner or learners are tasked with. The use of augmented technology in E-learning becomes a "natural fit" since all that needs to be accessed is found through learning networks and professional online organizations on the web.

Another example of this merging of man with machine are the modern HUD(Heads Up Display) that are coming more and more into use for pilots of aircraft of many different types from the military to future commercial space flights. Within these displays, a pilot can access data from meteorological, topographical, radar sat, aircraft status databases which are necessary in order for him or her to make informed and effective decisions.

This leaves us with an intriguing question:

"If these skillsets are going to become the norm, how do we develop digital pedagogies that will enhance these skillsets and enable learners to develop the discipline to maintain a focus and ignore the overwhelming "white noise" also present in the web environment?"

To answer the above question, we need to re-consider a concept that was mentioned in an earlier post. The concept was "thoughtful and irresistible engagement".

Next...Re-visiting thoughtful and irresistible engagement in an E-Learning environment

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