Alger presents a new view of learning that goes beyond the usual views of education and training. He identifies that we are all always learning and that the retrospective, governmental responses to education are doomed to fail because we need a more pro-active view. Alger thinks that the move to e-learning offers an opportunity to make this break away from "information" based learning and standardised testing. One size does not fit all and so we should encourage diversity and in particular the quality that he calls ingenuity rather than the curriculum based approach we currently take.
I agree with this as an idea and I have experienced days when students have escaped the constraints of marking schemes and standardised tests but the problem is the delivery. This is a self-published book and it needed an editor to clean up the presentation. There are continuous changes of fonts the diagrams are not clear. Sometimes the text is repetitive and sometimes it goes off on a tangent, such as the final epilogue about 9-11. It needs to be made much more readable to make the message clearer, especially as it is such an important message.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Breath of Fresh Air4 May 2004
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It's so nice to read a book about e-learning that focuses on learning at a much higher level than simply transferring information. From the book: "We tend to think of learning in terms of lesser aims such as knowledge, skills and attitudes... If learning is to be a 'solution' to anything, it must emanate from ideas about stability, durability and sustainability in the gace of change and innovation.' This idea alone is worth giving the book a read, but the rest of it, about networks enabling learning and the future of learning in the 'cybersphere' both echoes and expands on the work of Etienne Wenger, Verna Allee and Ross Dawson, among others. Alger also explores themes like "e-Learning hasn't yet been invented... e-Learning is not the same as e-Education and e-Training" and "The learner is not only a user of tools, but a designer and creator of them. What learners do with Internet tools is of far greater importance than what designers intended." I predict that this book will become a classic.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Well written, but not useful.13 July 2007
Michael J. Cushman
- Published on Amazon.com
I am one of those people actually designing the next generation of elearning. Brian Alger is a fine writer and philosopher, and if you are like me, you won't find this book useful. If you like to stroke your beard and pontificated about what's wrong with education and elearning, and allude to ideas that sound noble and deep, you will love this book.
I'm a silly guy. I think elearning should be based on the way people actually learn, the way the brain and memory work. I'm interested in doubling the rate of learning, doubling retention, doubling the validity and reliability of assessment, and eliminating misinformation that causes student dropouts, accidents, lost revenues, and death.
In the Experience Designer, there's no discussion of designing skills. There are no references of studies on learning or design, but there's a fair amount of philosophy. Here are some examples. "Information is a problem to be solved". Only the information we make ourselves through experience is valuable. Observation is obsolete. Standards need to be eliminated and replaced by measures of experience.
If you think you can eliminate facts from your brain, because they are unnecessary, go ahead. What will be left? You won't be able to read, since you won't know any letters, words, or their definitions. You won't be able to understand spoken speech, because it's factual combinations of sounds that make words, which have no meaning. You won't know math because numbers and their properties are just facts. Every model and process decomposes into a series of facts. What exactly is a mind void of information?
Innovation isn't magic. Innovative people digest gobs of relevant, accurate information, combine facts and concepts in unique ways, INSIDE the mind. The information age is triggering the innovation age because each feeds on the other. Those who can learn faster and more accurately will be the next generation of patent holders and Noble Prize winners.
Observation is obsolete. Really? Funny, why do we have mirror neurons? Our brains fire motor neurons while observing others as if we were doing the act ourselves, and if we are watching someone do something new, our brain grow new neurons too. We can watch a movie and experience every emotion of the actors as if we were in the movie ourselves, in that time and place, real or fiction. When we think in words, our brains send signals to our vocal cords even though we don't speak, and if you put a sensor on those nerves, you could read a person's thoughts. Observation is obsolete? No. More accurately, to observe is to experience and to learn.
Yes Mr. Alger, we do need standards, because feedback, lots of it, is the key to learning. Dopamine shifts forward from the reward to the stimulus as a way to teach us to do it again and we learn faster and retain information longer from mistakes. The problem isn't standards; the problem is not assessing learners every chance we get.
However, if you aren't interested in the science of learning and memory, and you have no interest in software that actually, empirically improves learning, this book is for you.