Prof Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth on Twitter) was having a discussion using the #learning2020 tag earlier which I couldn't help but eavesdrop on. The bit which was interesting me was @bradbeach saying he'd never heard anyone say that their best learning experience was due to content or technology, but rather because of dialogue.
I agree. The best learning I have ever done has been through dialogue. Also, and this is different, the best learning experiences I have had have been because of the dialogue. However, the worst learning and experiences of learning I have had have also been because of the dialogue - bad teachers can have far more of a deleterious effect on learning than any computer will ever manage. At the moment, the best computer learning tools don't get close to the best humans (at least in terms of the experience) - but I would say that in my experience, a computer mediated learning session will, on average, be about as good as the normal teacher-led experience.
Why? One-to-one interaction and self pacing are the most likely impacting factors, I think. Teachers almost always have to go far too slowly if you have half a clue what they are talking about, whereas you can pick the pace you go at with a computer helping you (unless it is video or audio rich, which levels the playing field - only fair, given the human will be 'video' and audio based too).
The very best learning experiences I have had have been when chatting with peers, and when teaching. The next best learning experiences have been with the one or two inspiring teachers I have had, the ones who capture the essence of a subject and fill me with a desire to know more, and to really, *really* understand the subject area.
The vast majority of good learning experiences I have had have been on my own with a computer for company - but that is cheating slightly. A lot of those have been through using tools like Twitter to engage with other real people. At least, I think most of them are real people. The dialogue is important, but it is not strictly necessary for it to be with a person - a well written computer agent could work just as well, for me, at least.
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