Srinivas Reddy’s Weblog

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Learning Insights

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I would like to share my attempts in understanding the learning process and the shifts happening in it due to technology changes. Understanding ‘implicit learning’ (or ‘learning by heart’ as I would like to call) and ‘explicit learning’ is key to this. As I watch my 1 year old son it amazes me how he picks up new things (be it by observing us or while playing…) without being ‘explicitly’ taught new things.  Off course we need to teach him some things ‘explicitly’ (such as how to name things…) using books (TV, Computer…) and real world physical objects. It would be fair to say a degree of both forms of learning is needed.

A important aspect of learning is the ability to differentiate and integrate things. To continue the analogy of a child, at first anything round is a ‘ball’ for him, but with time he learns to differentiate between  a ‘Football’, ‘Basketball’… Just as we gain more ‘domain expertise’ in a specific field our ability to identify the subtle differences in the topic takes our learning to new heights. The ability to integrate things is the complementary skill for the learning process.  Just as a child learns that not only different things can have the same name but the same thing can also have different names (for example in different languages) marks a key milestone in learning process. If we think of it, the ability to differentiate and integrate is the basis of most computing algorithms.

A context or ‘situations’ that a child/student is put into greatly influence his subject knowledge. Just as a initial ‘software system model’ needs to refined with new data to fine tune/optimize the model, the learning process needs to systematically improve the learning experience. How can such a systematic learning process look like? This is area with lot o history and current research activity. Right from the ancient ‘Gurukul’ approach to learning to the modern virtual games oriented learning (ex Nintendo DS style) approach, learning process has seen lot of changes. While the tools to enable the learning process have evolved over times, the importance of learning only has only increased over times.  With the current emphasis on ‘smart learning’ assuming that most basic tasks will be automated (just like calculators made it memorising multiplication tables less important), identifying the right ‘domain areas’ for learning ‘differentiation’ and ‘integration’ skills are needed.

In the current times of ‘constant change’ life long learning is projected as ‘the virtue’ to have for all. In this context it’s important to understand the learning process and hopefully this article helps in this regard.

Written by srinivasreddy

April 14, 2009 at 7:19 am

Posted in 1

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