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Is learning just intrinsically hard and therefore you can’t make it easy?

Design Bash 8th July 09

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Gráinne Conole
8 July 2009

Is learning just intrinsically hard and therefore you can’t make it easy? So are we wasting our time trying to create simple t

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Gráinne Conole
10:40am 8 July 2009

I am torn on this question. I believe that for alot of learning there is a need for some form of structuring and support. However social media means that now some of that can be provided by other peers rather than formal teachers. On the other hand some more advanced topics - theoretical physics for example really do need some form of expert guidance.

Gráinne Conole
10:42am 8 July 2009

SteveHutchi: @gconole Perhaps learning is easy - it's just talking about it that's hard? #dbash09

Gráinne Conole
10:43am 8 July 2009

gconole@SteveHutchi As a learner myself I don't agree! I think learning at times is v v hard!!! ;-) #dbash

Rebecca Galley
10:45am 8 July 2009

I am really interested in the concept of 'learning as loss' Inherent in learning is that sometimes we have to move outside of our comfort zone and challenge embedded beliefs and assumptions.

Rebecca Galley
11:44am 8 July 2009

However, having just said that I also believe that humans are developed for learning and are able to assimilate change remarkably quickly - also learning satisfies many of our psychological hungers (Contact, Recognition, Incident, Stimulus, Structure, and Sex/Passion)..well maybe not so often the last one...;o)

Also I can't help thinking that easy is not always good, and nor is quick.

Gráinne Conole
12:04pm 8 July 2009

@Rebecca Galley I like the idea of learning as loss. I totally agree learning is hard and that we have to move out of our comfort zone to develop/to move forward. Certainly feel out of my comfort zone with my Spanish learning - alot of the time. The phrase "tengo duende" comes to mind! ;-)

12:05pm 8 July 2009

Tell the story! Engage people around your learning experience!

Gráinne Conole
12:11pm 8 July 2009

@Rebecca Galley - yes learning is a natural part of human nature, I wonder to what degree learning is different with new social media? It reminds me alot of Salomon's notion of Distributed Cognition.

Gráinne Conole
12:17pm 8 July 2009

@Elpida - story telling is so powerful, combine with meaningful visualisation - even better!

Giota Alevizou
12:38pm 8 July 2009

Do social media help codify tacit knowledge? That's something that's worth studying? Adding that to motivation for participation and the blurring of boundaries between the formal and the informal? Am I complicating things? Then again what's the difference between the playground or the pub and facebook?

Dominik Lukes
1:26pm 8 July 2009

Learning is like exercise. If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right! That's one way of looking at it. Learning is as natural to us as breathing. Education just needs to provide the air. That's another way of looking at it.

Penny Ur, a TEFL theorist, wrote a whole book against the notion of learning as fun and the whole debate goes back to Comenius (and further back). But the question is only difficult if we blur distinctions such as the one between learning as a change of internal states and learning as a conscious activity. Another problem is that we conflate reports by learners from different stages of their learning. But if we look at them across the life of a "learneme" (modeled on phoneme), we'll find that sometimes learning is perceived as fun and effortless and sometimes painful and nighon impossible - and kind of dull and monotonous in between.

Rebecca Galley
1:33pm 9 July 2009

 @ Grainne "Salomon's notion of Distributed Cognition"

Rebecca Galley
1:43pm 9 July 2009

@Dominik Lukes "But if we look... we'll find that sometimes learning is perceived as fun and effortless and sometimes painful and nighon impossible - and kind of dull and monotonous in between" Yes I agree, like any change process. And I think it is interesting to explore what learners' needs are at each stage...i.e. whether we can predict and build in strategies responsive to each stage.

Gráinne Conole
1:46pm 9 July 2009

@Dominik - I certainly feel the pain when i am doing my spanish learning! trick is balance i think - the good old stretching - zone of proximal development but ensuring onging motivation too.

Juliette Culver
2:17pm 9 July 2009

Are there different types of 'hardness'?

  • The boringness of practice/memorisation
  • The hardness of going outside your comfort zone as mentioned by Rebecca
  • The stress/anxiety of being judged 
  • Learning to solve problems has to be hard I think by the very definition of a problem.

But I'm not sure that any of these explain wh, say, understanding Galois Theory is difficult or why learning to write well is difficult. Is it that the people who do learn these things don't actually really know exactly how they learned them other than spending lots of time trying?

Chris Kirkland
9:29pm 29 June 2010

Hard means it is ultimately achievable. In real life we weigh up: Is the effort worth the reward? I wonder if sometimes students cannot see what the reward is so percieve the learning as too hard/not worth the effort.

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