Thursday, March 18, 2010

Instructional Design and Experiential Learning

I was reading an interesting blog post on Instructional Design versus Experiential Design: do you have what it takes? by Koreen Olbrish. I have picked out a particularly interesting bit.

Experiential learning is a process of learning by doing. According to David Kolb, an individual learns from personal experiences and from the environment.

1. Having said this, I think it may be incorrect to deduce that elearning/workshops may not be able to provide experiential learning. In well designed programs, the learner can learn by doing and needless to say, he will learn from his own experiences and from the environment.

2. Instructional design is based on the learner's true needs. Therefore, it will be a systematic layout of content if the learner truly needs this. Instructional design is about designing the program such that learning happens. Therefore, the type of instructional strategy suggested above is just one among millions.

3. Even VLEs require to have a sound instructional base. Why? Your environment may be extremely real and may wow the learner. But, if you have learning presented in a manner where they are required to read off a book, attend a lecture in a VLE, or have information which is just difficult to find, this will make it less easy to learn. The learner may be better off with an eLearning program.

4. Even games have boundaries, rules, logic that can be learnt very quickly. If these are defined well in an eLearning program, I think we can design experiential learning. If the learner gets to do things to learn, I think you have a good program. Again, it has to have a strong instructional base.

5. I guess it is great if instructional designers break content into simpler chunks to ensure that they have a greater understanding of the content itself. But how the content should be presented, should be based on the learner's current knowledge and the skills that he wishes to acquire.

6. I am a huge fan of VLEs provided the usability issues are removed. But, I think it may not be right to say that great eLearning programs and workshops cannot provide for experiential learning.

7. I completely agree with Koreen that it requires a different kind of skill set to actually design experiential learning. It requires a lot of research into the learner's reality, the content itself, iteration in the design process, lots of brainstorming, and competent instructional designers, visual designers, and SMEs.

8. Therefore, my point in a nutshell, it is never Instructional design versus Experiential design. If your learners are learning, there is always instructional design in work there. You may not have designed it your self. I remember @Abhinava mentioning the same during his session at the IDCI session. We learn a lot of things unconsciously but this is always backed up by good instructional design.

What do you think?
1. Can we ensure experiential learning in eLearning/workshops?
2. Is experiential design truly possible only in a VLEs?
3. Is instructional design always about simplifying content?


Sumeet Moghe said...

Great thinking Archana! I think there's quite a limit to which you can stretch the 'experiential'. The key is that experiential doesn't have to mean expansive or elaborate. An experiential solution could be really simple (not simplistic). In my world, (after being enlightened by Dr. Kapp), information in context trumps instruction out of context. For example, a very well designed course on Influencing with a series of 'experiential' exercises and games may get trumped by a two page article that I can find on my company intranet when I have an influencing problem. Or even better -- the influencing patterns from Linda Rising that I find as a result of a Google search!

Is this 'instructionally sound' - maybe not. Is this experiential - hell yeah! If I can find useful ways to solve my problems, when I face those problems, I'm learning experientially. So the concept of experiential design doesn't have to be limited to specific tools or contexts.

I've been looking the good practice toolkits and they're examples of experiential design that's neither traditional elearning nor a modern 3d environment!

Archana Narayan said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the link to Good practice, Sumeet. Your thoughts have me thinking, what does 'instructionally sound' truly mean? When:
1. Learning takes place?
2. Information is easy to find and useful?
3. Knowledge I need to make the right decision is available to me?
4. I can transfer what i have learnt over a period of time?

Any thoughts...

Sumeet Moghe said...

Amen to all four. For me it's key that learning is timely and in the right context. I think you capture both in your summary.

hemcoined said...

This will make it less easy to learn. The learner may be better off with an eLearning program. Access Platform