Learning By Doing

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by: David Armano

I’m Wrapping up my time spent at ID’s Strategy 08 conference held at Chicago’s MCA. It’s been a great couple of days filled with nuggets of inspiration ranging from the topics of designing for the other 90 percent, and changing the culture of corporations through design thinking. But hands down for me, the most intriguing talk was given by John Seeley Brown also known as "JSB".

JSB’s talk was aimed out how we are learning and being educated and how much change is happening in this area. His framing of the subject matter was to think about education as an institution which needed to be re-built from the ground up. In essance, his call was to re-define what an actual instutuiton is—from something which is controlled and overly structured to something that still has shape but is more flexible and pliable.

But for me—John’s talk came down to one statement he made.

"We are going back to the one room school house"

I believe JSB was pointing out the irony of what’s happening with how we learn. In the one room school house, the teacher acted as a guide and students learned from each other. The setting was obviously intimate because it was small and the students all knew each other. I’m taking a few liberties with his metaphor, but the one room school house is a really interesting way to look at things. JSB called out that there is a renaissance in "tinkering", a soft skill which in the past has been marginalized, but is being taken seriously as a way people learn. Some would call this learning by doing. How do you think I learned what I have about "social media’?

Lastly and possibly most importantly JSB discussed a shift from instruction based learning to "interest-driven participation". While he did not define this in depth, I believe that it reflects other shifts that are happening in all types of fields. Connected and empowered individuals are no longer content to sit back and be lectured to. Information has been set free. Monologues have been replaced by conversations and increasingly we learn by doing—from watching what our peers do, from using what’s been made into open source. So the classroom got a lot smaller—and we’re back to influencing each other directly.

Some really great discussions happening in the halls. Wish you were here. 🙂

Original Post: http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2008/05/learning-by-act.html