Provocation Based Learning


Summer School made me think a lot about TEL, but also about learning in general. When I think about my own teaching experience it seems to me there is a certain approach to grab the attention of students, even if the weather is hot, it’s friday afternoon and the material is boring. The key is provoking the students. Of course “provocation” is a term carefully chosen in order to provoke you and grab your attention, dear reader of this small article. What is really meant here, in fact is trying to motivate the audience  by surprising them, using improvised jokes and funny examples, making them laugh and keeping the adrenaline level high. Did you ever ask yourself why people usually fall asleep in a lecture, but rarely do in the movie theatre?

The question I would like to raise is how we could adress this issue of really making learning a bit more “provocative” when we look at TEL methods. We have to bear in mind that a user is far less patient with software than with a real teacher. If the program does things that are too provocative, the user would probably quickly become bewildered and say “what the..” possibly in a negative sense of meaning. Hence, usability of a learning system must not be hampered by provocative system activity. Also the level of provocation strength needs to be personalized to the requirements of the learner. There could be a small questionnaire at the beginning of a session in order to assess the general level of the learner’s sarcasm tolerance, as well as his/her daily mood.

Then the next question would be how individual adaption of content could soundly be balanced against the properties of materials / system behaviour being applied in a collaborative learning context. Each user has a different provocation tolerance, and some might even have a minimum requirement for being provoked. And the whole concept is dynamic, as people’s attitudes change over time.

I would go as far as to say, concerning the “Future of TEL”,  this is a crucial point to be considered in the early stages of requirements analysis for the design of new e-learning systems. Learning has to be fun, and people have to be drawn on the edge of their sofa, their mouths open in amazement! Otherwise the system is not really usable, pretty much classically speaking in terms of software engineering.

Feel free to discuss. What are you thinking about this? I came up with this myself but if I accidentally stole someone elses idea, please provide me with the according reference – i will add it to this post right away.


2 Responses to “Provocation Based Learning”

  1. dr1ver Says:

    I think this is an interesting idea, which is especially relevant in the classroom. How to carry this in the digital world may be something quite impossible until we have immersive learning environments where we can use things like adaptive avatars in various interfaces.
    I think provocation in terms of surprising people in general is a good idea though, and some brainstorming on how to “break the mold” so to say, in terms of TEL is something we should be doing more of.

  2. delano Says:

    Great idea. What it boils down to I guess would be to think of attributes which make an interesting classroom lecture an extraordinary one, and then try to transfer these things to digital learning environments. Of course today’s systems are probably still a far cry from the technology we would need to implement most of what I understood of your view of “provocative learning” – as already stated by dr1ver.
    However, since TEL has always been evolving, “provacative learning” seems to be an interesting goal to aim for on the road ahead.

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