Archive for June, 2010

by Rich Mesch

A few months back, I interviewed Chuck Hamilton about the way Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs) are used at IBM. One of the concepts that Chuck introduced me to was the idea of “affordances,” and how they change in VIEs. According to our old friend Wikipedia, an affordance is “a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action.” The term doesn’t really have anything to do with VIEs on its own, although the concept of affordances is frequently used in describing the way people interact with computers.

Affordances become interesting in VIEs because VIEs “warp” the common way we use affordances. For example, what are the affordances of a chair? Well, it can be used for sitting, for decoration, for standing on to change a lightbulb… you get the idea, I could go on and on. But in a VIE, what is a chair? For sitting on, sure… but your avatar never gets tired, so you never really need to sit. Nor do you have to change light bulbs (and if you did, odds are you could fly up and do it).

Or a roof. What are the affordances of a roof? It keeps out cold, rain, snow, burglars, etc. But what if you lived in a world where there was no weather (unless you wanted it)? Would you need a roof at all?



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Tip #5: Help your learners take control of their own learning.

(Links to other articles in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

Cognitive Psychology: Use metacognitive techniques to assist learners to actively monitor their learning strategies and resources.

Why (Justification):

Bransford et al. (2000) highlight that active learning, that lets learners take control of their own learning, begins with metacognition. “A ‘metacognitive’ approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.” (p. 18)

Anderson (2000) recommends improving memory for text by reading it in multiple passes, asking yourself questions as you go. “In research with experts who were asked to verbalize their thinking as they worked, it was revealed that they monitored their own understanding carefully, making note of when additional information was required for understanding, whether new information was consistent with what they already knew, and what analogies could be drawn that would advance their understanding. These meta-cognitive monitoring activities are an important component of what is called adaptive expertise (Hatano and Inagaki, 1986)” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 18)

The case of Herbert A. Simon demonstrates adaptive expertise. Simon is credited for significant contributions to eight different fields of study. (Dasgupta, 2003)

Metacognition is what facilitates transfer. When you read, hear or see something, you have to analyze it, and ask questions about it. By monitoring their understanding, questioning and exploring the answers to their questions, students can achieve learning with understanding and become active learners.


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by Sherry Engel


I’ve struggled the last month or so to write a blog entry, trying to find that topic that “hits home”.  I want to blog about things that are truly important and meaningful to me. This weekend, through my own personal journey of growth in my faith, I discovered a great correlation between my personal journey for knowledge and the journey of those I help in corporate America.. 

I’ve been on a mission to learn and grow spiritually. I’ve been completing all of the “normal” learning activities….listening to teachings, reading, etc. However, as I reflect on my journey for knowledge, I find what has provided the most value for me are the discussions and sharing I have with my personal mentor. So why is it that a mentor carries so much value in my spiritual growth and how can we correlate that with learning in Corporate America?

Here’s what I’ve found:

My mentor is someone….

  • I trust won’t “think I’m stupid”, when I “ask the stupid question” 
  • I can bounce my ideas off of 
  • Who’s further along in their level of knowledge, so helps me to “stretch” to their level 
  • I can share the joy of my newfound learning with 
  • Who can encourage me when I feel like “I just can’t do it” 
  • Who helps me to personalize my learnings to my specific situation

 Look at those!  Wouldn’t it be great if we had a personal mentor in all aspects of our life?

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