Back to the barnyard

Clark Quinn has offered a three stage model to get more buy-in for informal learning. He's thinking about: how far along the learners are and what they are ready for next. He's proposing a middle phase between formal and informal learning. This is far better than assuming it's always time to be delivering content or time for social networking. It occurred to me that Clark has added something to our exploration that is missing in the metaphor of free range chickens. Welcome back to the barnyard.

Egg shells are a very good thing. They protect embryos with very confining circumstances. Baby chicks are kept under heat lamps for a time after they hatch. When they get larger, they are put into the chicken coup. After they have outgrown their egg laying phase, they are put out in the barn. In other words, as the embryos evolve into old hens, their circumstances become increasingly spacious and supportive of free roaming.

Content developers will take all this as a question of "how much does the learner need to be controlled at this phase?" Designers of learning experiences will continually ask "how free can the learner be at this stage of development?"

Freedom can be extremely disorienting. It can spawn feelings of abandonment as I've previously explored. The network of unlimited resources necessitates a support system -- developed from use cases like Ray Sims is prototyping. This intermediate stage of support is like the barn. It's more spacious than being cooped up in a content delivery module. It's more structured than the free range where "the deer and antelope play".

If the transitioning from formal to informal learning is successful, the learners will find freedom to be orienting. It will make sense to explore the network. They will find their own answers, resources and valuable conversations. They will navigate their unique search like gamers do. They will handle adversaries, obstacles and setbacks as opportunities to "up their game". The learners' resourcefulness will far exceed that of continually confined chickens who are still asking to be kidnapped.

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