Learning 2007::Morning Session

Sorry for the loss of momentum… lack of connectivity is a blogging killer.

We got started this morning at 8am with another excellent general session. Again, great guests.

Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, was certainly interesting. He had a number of interesting things to say, discussing the need for play, design, symphony, and other items. Facts, for example, are easy to come by. He shared an example (paraphrased below)

Imagine a librarian at Cambridge and a 15 year old in Tanzania, circa 1990. If asked to find the GDP of Belgium in the prior year, the competition would have been a laugher.

Jump forward 15 years… The same competition is a completely different story. As is well established, the internet has democratized facts. It is no longer the facts that are differentiating individuals and companies.

The skill that he seemed to say was most important was the one that was “difficult to outsource, difficult to teach“.

Dan was followed by Jane McGonigal who was fascinating as well. Jane does really cool stuff around Alternate Reality, which some might simply call simulations, but are games of a different ilk. Check out “World Without Oil”, an imagined scenario where the impacts of an oil shortage are played out in real life. Posts around the internet, puppet masters governing the situation, it’s a wild expansion of learning… This is where I start to get excited.

I think there are ways where technology can improve learning in a simple, linear fashion. Say, for example, direct grading of a test with statistics for a teacher (rather than requiring the teacher to grade and aggregate data).

But the things McGonigal talked about are non-linear improvements to learning. New stuff, wild stuff. I don’t know, 3 hours after she talked, exactly what I’ll ever do with this sort of Alternate Reality game, but I do like that I’ll be thinking about it.