Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

13 May 2008

Learning content in scenarios

Clark @ 7:21 PM

We’re developing a scenario (code word for serious game :), and I’ve come into a situation where I can see a plausible case for either side, and don’t know of any research results.

The scenario is serving as a the major organizing focus for a course (this specifically is designed for the formal education system). We’ve got a contextualized task that requires applying the curriculum material, and want to make the curriculum material available for access during the scenario.

Here’re the two options I see:

  • One is to have all the tutorial material available from within the scenario. The notion is that once there’s a need, having the information available will optimize the moment of learning. The fear is that taking time to access the information could break the flow of the scenario experience. So, if you couldn’t decide how to set up the quantum physics experiment, you’d access a tutorial on said topic from the lab library.
  • The other is to have a digested down version of the information (in a ‘performance support’ model, that serves as a reference guide and you stay very much ‘in the moment’, but if you don’t know the material, you exit the scenario to get the concepts, and then you go back into the scenario experience, and use the guides for assistance but they’re not sufficient to actually learn from (unless, of course, you’ve already got some foundation). So, if you couldn’t set up the quantum physics experiment with the ‘checklist’, you’d leave the scenario motivated to read the tutorial and then restart/reenter the scenario.

The tradeoff is learning material available versus any effect on ‘breaking the wall’ between the scenario and the external learning environment.

We’re building the scenario, so we’ll actually have the second, and of course if that’s insufficient we’ll add in the first, but I wondered if there’s any ‘a priori’ information. Research solicited, opinions welcome.

1 Comment »

  1. I might boil this down to questions of authenticity. What would be most realistic?
    If one were actually setting up the experiment, would s/he be able to access substantial support/tutorial resources at any time?
    Are there real-world constraints that would limit either their ability to access the resources or more likely the overall TIME they spent?
    Would accessing outside resources too often affect others’ view of the practitioner’s authority/mastery and would that matter? Might time spent accessing resources affect their efficiency, costs, and/or profitability?
    You might also consider providing both a “let me go slow and give me lots of support – I’m learning this” scenario mode and a more realistically constrained “assessment” mode to the scenario.

    Comment by Andy — 14 May 2008 @ 9:58 AM

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