After a long period without posting I’m here to share a little of the stuff that’s going on in my thesis. I think that, even though it’s taking forever to finish it, there a few insights that are worth putting out here. Hope you agree – or that you comment why if you don’t. The first of these insights is the development of what “interactive learning” is made of, what actually is needed for it to happen.
I’ve identified in my thesis that there are 3 components that enable learning by interaction: first is that situation matters; second is that trust matters; and third is that language matters. I’ll try to explain it here not going into many technical issues. In order to do so, I’ll use an example to back up the theory.
Let’s say you play video games and that you like one title in particular. It doesn’t really matter which one, the important thing is that you enjoy it and that you want to know more about that game. You can try to work alone at your home and go through trial and error or read the game manual. Without the help of other people you simply can’t do more than that, can you? But assuming that if you own a video game you probably also own a computer and you have internet connection. Your set of tools changed. You are now able to contact other people, surf the net for tips, reports, forums, blogs, ask friends on MSN, Skype or Gtalk and so on. This is a change in the situation. The introduction of tools and / or people as resources for learning enhances your possibilities of absorbing new knowledge.
So by surfing the net you learn that if you smash the left side of the console with a hammer (just above the power button) you’ll be able to get more points in the game. How do you know you can do it with no harm to your hammer? I know this is a lousy example but it shows how trust matters in the interactive learning process. If you don’t trust your counterparts, how can you put the knowledge they give you to test and use?
Finally, you decide that the knowledge you found on the Internet seems trustworthy enough – it’s the biggest gaming forum on the web! – but it seems you’ve skipped some classes in school because you can’t understand anything people say. Incomprehensible sentences keep coming up like “omg I h8 this part cuz there iz no lulz”, “gimme the cookies plx!”, and “how come you don’t know that the dmg meters only calculate a third of the poison dmg because the math on dot’s is messed up, you nub?”.
Video game language test.
This is where we clearly see why language matters. When coming into a new group people often have to adjust the words they use and learn the expressions and concepts that are characteristic for that group. This is as true for video games as it is for medicine, book clubs, or animal psychology. Until there is a shared language at work, members of that group will find hard to make sense of each others’ practice and experiences.
Therefore in order for people to be able to learn from one another, the group needs to establish tools that allow them to connect; trust each other as sources of knowledge; and create a shared language that enables them to understand the knowledge transferred in that interaction. Any group of people should take that into consideration when developing learning strategies that include interaction.