Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tangential Learning

You can also find the article the video blog is based on here.

"Tangential learning is not what you learn by being taught rather it's what you learn by being exposed to things in a context with which you're already engaged in". This seems to fit in with something I've been thinking about for a while, namely that games seem to engage people who like games, and if that's the case then we do need more ways to get people 'tangentially' involved in other things. I guess what I'd like to know is, what is it that motivates that 0.1% of Final Fantasy fans to look up what a sephiroth is? Are they just more motivated than the rest of the players? Why? And doesn't this seem a little, well, shallow, in terms of learning? I mean I've played a lot of Civilization in my time but unless I really get stuck, I tend to ignore the Civilopedia and when I have looked at it, I usually just feel like I'm just skimming the articles as quickly as possible so I can get back to playing. Much in the same way I skim wikipedia articles I look up after being curious about references in films or even songs. Yes, I'm motivated by curiosity to look things up but I'm just not sure how much of it sticks....

So there are two things I want to take from this. The first is to do with the fact there seems little distinction between 'surface' and 'deep' learning when it comes to learning from games (to borrow terms from research on approaches to study). And the second is that there appears to be two sides to motivation: getting people interested in the first place and then keeping them interested. Again, I'm not sure that's something much of the literature of gaming has taken into account, and it's looking increasingly likely that I'm going to make a point of this in my own work.


JM said...

Hi Jo
I wonder if this just shows that learning is learning and it doesn't matter what your age or stage is, it's a lot more personal than that. It's why I am enjoying H809 so much as it's opened up new ideas for me that my GCSE students, my teachers, and my MA/EdD students can all benefit from. Have you seen this http://flux.futurelab.org.uk/2009/03/20/games-based-learning-2/

Thanks for the blog. Jan

Costas said...

For me it's a subconscious bias towards games. I (wrongly) don't feel there is much to learn from games in terms of knowledge even in games like Civilization. My attitude is that i am playing not learning.

Whereas when i am reading a book or have seen a movie i might investigate the (hi-)story and words even further.

I had not realised it until i read your article.

Juliette Culver said...

I think I've heard the term 'guerilla learning' used in a similiar way.


Jo Iacovides said...

Thanks for the comments guys especially the link JM - I was aware of the conference and had been meaning to look at the talks but you reminded me to actually do so! I'd agree that motivation and enjoyment of learning do seem to quite personal, I guess I'm just wondering how to tap into that.

I think looking at this sort of infromal learning probably does need quite a broad definition of learning, which sometimes players may not really going to be aware of. Which leads to a bit of a problem in terms of how you can assess learning when you're not sure what is being learnt... But I'm glad you're changing your mind about learning and games Costa!

And thanks Juliette, will be looking into the term 'guerilla learning' too, and trying to see whether it's the same thing or not.

Eumenides said...

koukla mou
so interesting about the processes of learning....
we should discuss when next meet ;)

Anonymous said...

One could also say learning while taking a bath is nonsensical. Just don't tell Archimedes.