Sunday, December 31, 2006

Everything is a Learning Tool!

In a recent article on Learning Circuits, Clark Aldrich proclaimed Second Life is not a Teaching Tool which then followed with the flame wars in Second Life Redux & The Ultimate MMORPG?

What I find disturbing about this entire conversation is how quickly people will dismiss something as not being a learning tool because it doesn't fit conventional models. I would like to propose the counterpoint to this debate- Everything is a Learning Tool!

Let's take, for example, the humble stick.

How can a stick teach something as complex as Customer Service skills?
Let's explore:
  • A stick can serve as a symbol for the perfect interaction path. In the example of this stick, if you get off the path, you hit a thorn.
  • A stick can be used as an interaction aid. Pass the stick around to answer questions.
  • A stick can symbolize a reward. Hand the stick to someone who achieves a goal, such as a customer kudo.
  • A stick can be carved with symbols that relate to the student's job goals. A stick can be a part of a word game that helps students remember skills. (S=Sell, T=Tell, I=Inform... etc..)
  • If all else fails, you can hit your students over the head with the stick if they do something wrong.
The fact is, it is not our place to say what is or isn't a learning tool. If we get into this debate, we miss the creativity of finding new uses for, well, anything. If a stick can be a learning tool, imagine what can be made of something like a MMORPG.

Instead of debating what is or isn't a learning tool, look at what your students relate to and find a way to use that as a learning tool.

Do your students use PSPs? How can you use that?
Do your students all like the movie Borat? Use it.
Do your students all play Half Life? Use it.

We should never force our students into our instructional models. Instead, we should look for how we can relate our education to our students.


Clark Aldrich said...

I know what you are saying, and think that you make a lot of good points. I like to hold my own thinking accountable by asking myself, how would I like my doctor or my pilot to be trained?

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