Author Archive

Provocation Based Learning

June 7, 2007

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.