Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Renaissance elearning

Have been dipping in & out of the book by Samantha Chapnick & Jimm Meloy called Renaissance eLearning for a couple of weeks. Then put a weekend into reading it more intensively as it contained many interesting ideas that would make eLearning more energised, personalised and effective.

This book has a good overview of Csikzentmihalyi’s psychology of creativity from his book Flow and the Psychology of Discovery & Invention and then goes on to provide examples of how eLearning can be used to encourage more creativity in learners.

In particular, the use of ‘emotional eLearning’ via the use of narratives and drama in eLearning is a new concept for me. I am especially taken by Freytag’s triangle which plots the classical dramatic structure of rising action, climax and crisis and then falling action and unwinding. They then form the basis of plot and story to the structure of a whole course or part of a course which involves the setting up of the genre, setting and characters to the overall storyline. I suppose similar to how we set up a learning session with the introduction, learning in increments using scaffolding teachniques that leads on to reflection and application, but all done with much more soul and feeling.

The other thing that is promoted, the concept of heutagogy which is self-directed learning in it’s purest sense. Learners are owners of their own learning process and learn by “organic or informal” learning.

I enjoyed reading the book as it had arrived at a juncture in my learning about eLearning. I had been looking for some way to add more pizzazz into my eLearning courses as I was working through converting them from being hosted on Blackboard across to Moodle. I suppose the title ‘renaissance’ stuck out as I browsed the book shelves in the library.

At the moment, I am percolating all the new ideas in my head to try to find a good fit between the ideas of using story telling within the context of my content area plus make it engaging to the learner profile I have. I have always been interested in the use of games to encourage learning but finding the correct scenario / game type and the development dollars required to built a good interface have always been the challenge. I will use the structure of a ‘solving a bakery problem type scenario’ in some of the courses but will have to think through scenarios that will be engaging enough. Not sure if the students themselves will be able to find their own ‘problem’ to solve but might also give that a go. Will have to do more thinking on this!

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