Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

What does an Elearning Community look like?

November 13, 2006

How would elearners themselves express what it looks like?  Here’s one:

LCWhiteboard   One of my all time favorite images.  This image was constructed synchronously and collaboratively by a cohort of online learners — and well nigh ‘furiously’ I might add.  Along with the Chat running below the whiteboard image – running so fast and so far to the right that you couldn’t keep up.

The starter image presented was the intersecting circles inside the box.  Representing the interaction among ‘course’ content, other learners, external resources, etc.  Clearly – the elearners are saying most of the learning takes place outside the box.  Most of the learning takes place is unstructured ways.  The learning process goes back and forth among content, other learners, external resources along unpredictable, often frustrating, definitely nonlinear pathways.  Learning one thing leads to another question leads to another learning…and sometimes to something concrete you can put in another box.

I’ve shared this image with a few other people – they don’t even think its interesting, let alone feel the powerful emotions and insights expressed in this imaage.  Now that its static and preserved – so much of what it really means is gone – and we can only get that back if/when we do it again.  When we got done making this picture — I absolutely had to preserve it — I was on such a euphoric high over what we had just made together.

What have your experiences been with elearning communities? 

What have you captured with regard to what they look like, how they work, how it feels to be a part of such a community? 

Tell me.  Leave a comment:)

Web 2.0 tools and Learning by Making Games

November 11, 2006

A slide show by Nancy White, called Online Collaboration: Second Wave, and her blog

Discusses some of the challenges we face in adopting Web2.0 tools and making them truly useful to us in our work.  Web2.0 tools – such as Wikis and Blogs – are not business as usual (especially for those of us over 40!). 

It’s not just (dis)comfort with the technology.  It’s discomfort with what these tools can actually do for us.  Wikis and Blogs empower each one of us to take charge of our own learning and change the future for ourselves.  Wikis and Blogs enable us to share power and distribute shared power over a wide network of like-minded people whom we may never “meet” in the “real world.”

 

A Wiki is much more than a “shared document.”  A Wiki is LIVE, REAL-TIME, collaborative content creation.  The content we create is permanently accessible to us.  And it evolves as we evolve.  We change the content we create as our experience in the real world changes.

 

A Blog is much more than my private online journal.  A Blog is a captured running CONVERSATION between you and me.  I tell you what I think.  You tell me what you think.  We spark ideas in each other.  We build on and refine what came before.

 

The ideas we refine in our running Blog conversation can be summarized and plugged into the long-lived content we are creating in the Wiki.

 

“Making a Learning Game” together is really just a way for putting structure around our use of Wiki and Blog tools. 

For the purpose of creating a knowledgebase to accelerate nonprofit earned income venture profitability.  Game making is a very fruitful structure for our purpose because games are built on PATTERNS. 

A pattern is a set of solutions to common problems that have proven effective over and over.  The solutions to the profitability problems each one of us faces are hidden in our collective experience.  During the process of making the game together, we share our common problems, and common solutions will organically emerge.  As we apply and test solutions in the real world, we refine a set of the most effective.  Together, we discover and redistribute useful strategic patterns accelerating nonprofit earned income profitability!

This is a SERIOUS GAME.  Making a game with Web2.0 tools can actually help us do better what we already want to do.  We already recognize that we can’t do it alone.  We already recognize that there is great value for each of us in the experience of our peers.  We already spend a lot of time attending conferences, workshops, and other professional development activities – trying to find what we need to improve our own earned income venture’s profitability.  All too often with disappointing results.  How many times have you returned from a conference totally inspired and psyched up – and then within the week when you haven’t been able to apply your inspiration, nothing has changed, and the high wears off.  The technologies of conferences and workshops are limited in their capacity to capture, organize, and redistribute useful knowledge.  The technologies of Web2.0 tools, on the other hand, are expressly designed to do just that.  

And why shouldn’t we have FUN using these tools for our serious purpose?

For further discussion of these points: see also: Michele Martin, at the Bamboo Project; and Beth Kantor at Beth’s Blog.

Adult Learning and Learning Games

November 10, 2006

     Alot more is being done with games and learning for kids than for adults.

Alot has been learned in the past few years about adult learning.  Alot of what we understand about how adults learn applies directly to making learning games.  Adults can learn by making games together!  (why should kids have all the fun?)

 

       A few days ago, Beth Kanter posted about online collaboration and adult learning.  Beth’s post incorporated a slide show by Nancy White, about how to make social networking and online collaboration relevant to nonprofits.  Point: nonprofit social entrepreneurs don’t have time to play round — our networking and collaboration has to generate a valuable result.  Point: it is in OUR power to make these tools useful to us.

 

Also check out “Power of the Newbie” from coolcatteacher.

 

     In fact, one of the primary things we’ve learned about adult learning is that adults ONLY want to learn stuff that is practical and that can be directly applied to our work in real life.  Social entrepreneurs who are striving every day to generate earned income to support their missions want to learn how to do it more successfully.

     We know that adults want to build on what they already know.  Adults want to share what they know.  Adults want to learn from their peers.

     We know that we possess tacit knowledge (stuff we don’t know we know) derived from our experience.  Adult learning is accelerated in collaborative environments where tacit knowledge can become explicit, recognized, shared, repurposed, and reused.

We know that adults learn well what they have to teach.

 

     The latest theories about learning tell us that learning is a dynamic social process in which learners themselves construct useful knowledge.  When people who share a common real life interest, common purpose, common challenges get together on purpose to overcome those challenges – magic happens!  We form connections and make meaning from our common experience.  We recognize the common solution patterns to our common challenges that appeared to be hidden.  Each of us is both teacher and learner, when we do this together.

 

     What we are coming to understand about games for learning highlights the fact that when we play a game, we are participating in a community of practice for learning.  As we play the game, we are learning how to play the game more successfully.  Learning within the game takes place “just in time” in the context of use – you immediately apply what you learned to your next move in the game.  You cycle back through practicing what you learned and getting immediate feedback on how it worked.  Within the game culture, “failing” is good –  “trial by error” — you “fail forward”.  Recycling through the content is not failure, but in fact it is deeper learning.  You learn from every failure and get better at playing the game.

 

     Game-playing engages higher order meta-cognitive skills and asks us to relate to the situation along multiple parallel lines, not liner.  We see and act on things we already know, or things we know in a different context, transfer knowledge and see how it applies in a different context.

 

Game playing is a social experience. (hmmmm …. and ‘learning is a social process’) (hmmm…together, we know everything each one of us needs to know) (hmmm….sharing what we know and learning from each could be FUN)

 

     Games are a tool for us to think with, together.  Games are a tool for us to explore solutions with, together. 

If playing a game can do all that for our learning – imagine what making a learning game can do for us!  Making a game together is literally a tool for us to change the real-world profitability landscape for nonprofit social entrepreneur earned income ventures.

 

     Game industry stats indicate that gamers spend an average of 20 hours per week playing games.  What if YOU spent even a smidgen of that playing at making a game for social enterprise profitability?  Would we all be generating more revenue to support our missions by the end of a week?

 

Please leave a comment.  Tell me what YOU think.

Social Entrepreneurs Learning Game Manifesto

November 2, 2006

I’ve been thinking about nonprofit social entrepreneurs making a learning game together for so long, I finally decided to blog about it.  A game that will solve the mystery of earned income profitability.

And, not just blog about it.  I have set up a wikispace for us to DO IT!  Its called “selearninggames” too. 🙂

Wikispaces 

There are over 550,000 social entrepreneurs in the U.S. – nonprofit organizations who are starting and growing earned income ventures to support their missions.

Surveys indicate that slightly less than half of these ventures are profitable. That’s good news – and bad news. It’s good news because so many are profitable. And its bad news that so many are not.

A bevy of “consultants” (I confess, myself included) has grown up around the nonprofit social entrepreneur movement. Many of these consultants (myself included) take an educational approach to assisting nonprofits to start and grow a venture successfully. Several formal educational institutions have established social entrepreneurship courses or programs to teach nonprofits how to start and grow venture successfully.

At this point, my theory (grounded in my professional experience) is that the strength of the nonprofit social entrepreneur movement has evolved a depth and breadth of experience that is sufficient for us to ‘teach’ ourselves.

The, by now classic, principles of knowledge management within a community of practice suggest that through conversation, sharing, and collaborative content creation – we can discover the tacit knowledge (stuff we don’t know we know) hidden in our collective experience, and make it explicit. From that collective knowledge, we can identify patterns that are effective solutions to the challenge of profitability. Then, each one of us can apply those solutions to our own venture’s success.

The emerging principles of learning games suggest that discovering the hidden strategic patterns that lead to social entrepreneur venture profitability can be FUN!

Game playing and – even more so – GAME MAKING – are activities grounded in discovering and applying pattern solutions to common challenges. All we have to do it do it. We can make a learning game together that will accelerate profitability for each one of us.