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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Articles of Note: Corgi Catches, Sept. 4, 2007

We dig through databases, online journals, an e-learning magazines for online learning articles of interest. In this weekly series, we present a few articles that you might find useful, thought-provoking, or simply interesting. Instead of giving you only the citation, we'll give you more. We'll provide a brief overview and synopsis of the article.

Here's an audio overview: Podcast.

We hope you find this to be helpful!

Articles that caught the Corgi’s eye this week:

Rogan, J. (2006). How much curriculum change is appropriate? Defining a Zone of Feasible Innovation. Science Education. November 2006: pp. 439-460.

This article presents the results of a concerted effort to apply Vygotsky's notions of social learning along with the social contexts and constraints on learning in order to understand the failures of pedagogical innovation in the 1960s in Africa, where highly innovative, forward-looking, "sputnik curricula" failed to achieve the results desired. As a result, the author shows how Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" notions can help explain failures as well as successes. Rogan describes the resulting Zone of Feasible Innovation as "a collection of teaching strategies that go beyond current practices, but are feasible given the existing resources available to the teacher, or group of teachers, and the prevailing environment of the school in terms of its ability to foster and sustain innovation (Rogan, 2006, 442). The Zone of Feasible Innovation can be implemented by taking a three-tiered approach: 1) getting underperforming schools to achieve better results; 2) helping moderately successful schools achieve excellence; 3) encouraging schools that have achieved a level of excellence introduce sophisticated teaching and learning. Rogan emphasizes that to achieve innovation, one must manage expectations and be realistic about what can be achieved. After a realistic notion of outcomes has been set, Rogan discusses how coherence must be achieved, and a sequence in place. Finally, Rogan examines the nature of rewards and motivation in various settings, and points out, very insightfully, that in many cases the potential alleviation or lessening of conflict can be very motivating -- in some cases, even more so than typical intrinsic or extrinsic rewards.

Ferjencik, M. ((2007). Best starting point to comprehensive process safety education. Process Safety Progress. September 2007: 26:3. pp. 195-202.

According to this article's author, the problem with traditional safety instruction is that it tends to be inadequate because it does not address alternatives to the "canned" answers nor does it discuss multiple solutions or approaches to problems. Ferjencik presents a solution to the problems by suggesting that pedagogical improvements can be effected by emphasizing questions, encouraging creative thinking about safety, avoiding prefabricated answers. The bottom line is that a spontaneous, interactive, and engaged group of learners that have flexibility will learn more. At the same time that the author encourages innovation, he wisely maintains a notion of structure, and suggests that instructional design focal areas should stay firmly grounded in a) developing sequences of knowledge; b) developing scaffolding techniques; c) including case histories and show them how they apply to the underlying concepts; d) take a problem-solving approach to "learn from accidents." This article is clear, easy to follow, and refreshingly lucid in its presentations of lesson plans and instructional material.

Kapp, K. (2007). Tools and techniques for transfering know-how from boomers to gamers. Global Business and Organizational Excellence. July-August 2007. pp. 22-37.

This is a timely and imminently practical article that fascinates the reader with its clarity in describing the differences between the learning style preferences of baby boomers and "gamers" (post 1980 digital natives), and the implications on the workplace of tomorrow and today's need to transfer knowledge from one generation to another. The need will be come urgent soon: in the next five years, 40 percent of skilled workplace employees will retire. Kapp addresses the problems faced by many corporations that have extended the hierarchical, linear thinking and process flow to training and knowledge transfer. Kapp points out that younger workers find the text-based, linear presentation and delivery of content to be absolutely antithetical to their learning preferences, and prefer to be able to obtain information, knowledge, and skills via informal learning. Gamer learning styles are different than those of boomers. Gamers are a) not focused on books and reading; b) ignore formal instruction, c) prefer a trial and error approach; d) learn from peers; e) center on small bits of information; f) demand just-in-time information. The gamers, who were born after the 1980s, and who grew up playing the multiplayer, three dimensional, collaborative, on-demand role-playing games that gained popularity in the 1990s, are not likely to succeed in elearning courses that simply translate a traditional classroom approach to the learning management system. Kapp recommends incorporating blogs, wikis, syndication, podcasting, and IM, among other things, in order to make corporate knowledge transfer relevant to the learning styles of gamers. Although he does not mention them specifically, Kapp's points make one think that corporations and corporate training units would be well served to include social networking, mobile learning, and video.

About "Corgi Catches"

The Corgi digs through databases, online journals, an e-learning magazines for online learning articles of interest. In this weekly series, we present a few articles that you, dear reader & faithful E-Learning Queen (or King), might find useful, thought-provoking, or simply interesting. Instead of simply giving you the citation, we'll provide a brief overview and synopsis of the article.

We hope you find this to be helpful!

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