on learning and kangaroos

I recall that when I was in my early teens I went on a trip with my brothers and my mom to a large outdoor garden, probably in the Vancouver, BC area. The garden, which I’m sure was beautiful, wasn’t what had the biggest impact on me. What had the biggest impact was the comedian who was performing there. At the start of his act he described how to catch a kangaroo. Kangaroos, as you know, he said, are very unique creatures and can be quite tricky. You must be very clever to catch a kangaroo. But, he assured us, it can be done. The way you catch a kangaroo is unique up on it. (for the non-native english speakers, that’s a play on ‘you sneak’ up on it.)

What does that have to do with education? Well, creating a stimulating learning environment is like catching kangaroos. It’s kinda tricky and you can’t be obvious about what you’re doing. If you try to approach it in a straight forward obvious way, the stimulating learning environment just seems to wander off and find something else to do. The way to create a stimulating learning environment is unique up on it. It has to be custom tailed for the content, context and learners. All three, you don’t get to pick two  and call it good.

The context is the hardest of these to get right. You don’t usually get to choose who the learners are, and the content is generally prescribed too. So, context is what you have to work with. My particular interest is in computer supported learning environments. In my graduate studies I’ve used a few web based learning environments and played a  variety of educational games with my kids. It seems to me that the designers of these environments haven’t been catching many kangaroos. It’s a tough problem. One I want to understand better and make a contribution toward. I have some ideas I’ll share in future postings.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2006 at 11:37 pm and is filed under Uncategorized . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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