One of the seminars I had in mind for quite some time is starting this semester: »Simplicity«. Conceptually it is a sequel to the “Density” seminar that went very well and was insightful for students and me as well. Like “Density” the new seminar is dealing with a particular but general design strategy that seems to be a constant challenge for designers (not only students).

At the first glance there is nothing special to know about “simplicity” as a design strategy. Of course designers need to break complexity and to chop the matter into communicatable, comprehensible and digestable chunks. On the other hand I hear myself (and my collegues) often argue “Keep it simple!” if a student seems to have difficulties to do the chopping at a given stage of a project. Why is it that the process of simplification sometimes makes something elegant and effective and sometimes primitive and boring?

Structuring elements in knowledge creation processes for classes

Spike Hall describes some structuring elements in knowledge creation efforts in classes:

  • Formal Debate
  • Each participant committed to active participation with a reward for doing so.
  • Moral Dimension of Student Product: Students were assigned to an
  • advisory committee advising a business on the negative impact of
  • business activity on public health.
  • Student activity within advisory committee constrained within a series
  • of production stages.
  • First stage: identify facts, debate solutions and propose a synthesis.
  • Next three steps: Test the solutions against a prescribed set of principles.
  • Final Stage: Provide an [executive] summary

This resembles some of the principles in a course guide (german) I have put online for my own seminars.

Learning: Communities versus Courses

Lilia Efimova did a marvelous job on collecting thoughts on “Communities versus Courses”: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

She also points to Sebastien Paquets weblog research directory.

There is a lot of arguments that need consideration here. Some turn on light bulbs in my head – and I disagree with others. I need to think about these before I can make comments beyond initial reactions.

Informal Learning & the other 80%

Found this article from Jay Cross through Lilia Efimova’s weblog and her very iformative post on “Learning: communities vs. courses

I wish I had more time right now to do a deep dive into this stuff, because it really touches many issues I am interested in. Lilia is making a difference between novice learners and advanced learning. I would also differ what is to be learned individually or in groups. In other words: How well is the problem defined that is supposed to facilitate learning. With ill-defined problems there is much need for the social side of learning, because everyone can (and needs to) reassure assumptions by communicating with other members of the learing group.

Collaborative learning environments sourcebook

»This is a sourcebook for academics and students who want to develop collaborative learning environments (or communities of practice) in which lecturers, students and others can work together to create new knowledge while learning new skills. Click on the links on the left to browse through the book. The book is currently in the process of being (collaboratively) developed, but already contains quite a lot of useful material.« [via Seblogging News]

Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database

»TIP (theory into practics database) is a tool intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to educators. The database contains brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction. These theories can also be accessed by learning domains and concepts.«

Ten Things We Know About Teaching Online

Margaret Driscoll: »As a consultant, I frequently work with business unit managers who are making decisions about online learning. These managers have clear business needs and an in-depth knowledge of technical issues, but they sometimes lack the knowledge needed to make sound educational decisions. As online learning technology becomes more reliable and user-friendly, the real difference between good and bad programs is the instructional design.«

Instructional Design for Flow in Online Learning

Sandra C. Ceraulo:

This tutorial describes how the instructional design of an online course can facilitate an optimal learning experience for the student. The optimal learning experience is the state termed “flow.” Flow, as defined by creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Me-high Chick-zhent-me-high), is the “state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” During flow experiences, work is pleasure and is rewarding in itself. Csikszentmihalyi has also described flow as “joy, creativity” and ” the process of total involvement in life.”