Over the weekend, I helped a friend finalize a 3 minute video "Kids and Kites" on helping learners soar. It will be shown at the Aero Conference (Alternative Education Resource Organization) this week. You can view the video here and the web page I created for him here.
As I watched the rough cut and got ideas for changes in edits, I was amazed at how I was functioning better than ever. I could feel where the video was engaging me and where that enchantment disappeared. I could notice where the music felt right and where it did not. I repeatedly had a strong sense of what was "perfect as is" and what needed tweaking. This is new for me to work this way!
I've edited countless videos for my management consulting work. Since the last time I edited videos (circa 1991), my abilities have grown tremendously. Without any practice or instruction, I've become more competent, quick to respond, insightful and tuned into several subtle levels of digital storytelling. I wondered how this occurred?
After the work was completed yesterday, I realized that I probably had learned better editing skills unconsciously. In the past fifteen years, I have immersed myself in movies. There's a movie on the TV "with the mute on" when I'm reading books. I have rented countless videotapes and DVDs of films. I watched a second time with the "directory commentary" to get a sense of the process and chemistry which created the finished work. I've built a library of my favorite films and now watch them for the third or fourth time.
All this exposure to film making and viewing is immersion learning. I did not study video editing formally in these years. I did not receive content or practice new skills. I was not taught or shown how to edit better than I was. I picked these new abilities up without a structured PLE to get them. I effortlessly acquired new habits of sight, feeling, sensitivity and response. I simply immersed myself in a lot of video with great appreciation, fascination and self direction.
Perhaps the difficulties we're having with clarifying the essence PLE's, eLearning and School 2.0 relate to excluding immersion learning. What if most learning occurs effortlessly? What if formal instruction is so often ineffective because it assumes learning only happens when we make it happen? What if the kind of learning we do without trying or conscious effort is better? What if our skills, conduct, and performance measures are exceptional when we acquired our abilities by immersion? What if this is the kind of learning the digital natives are experiencing? What if the only way to learn from gaming, social networking and self expression is immersion?