Discovery learners go on adventures, find paths to explore and come across memorable lessons in their travels. The ground covered and finds along the way are the lesson. The terrain is the teacher.Educators who take "terrain" literally limit what students can learn to field trips, school gardens, nature hikes and classroom terrariums. They assume it's not possible to learn "textbook topics" by adventuring. They see no landscape to explore that would come across technical topics.
School dropouts have always known better. The "kid on the street" quickly learns how to survive, who to trust and what counts in that world. The young apprentice finds out how the craftsperson performs his/her trade by observing and experimenting. The shop keeper reveals the tricks of the trade to keep a customer satisfied and coming back for more. All this occurs without books, quizzes and grades.Digital landscapes are emerging. It's now possible to travel networked terrains in search of answers and better questions. It's easy to come across exactly what we were looking for. It's likely we will encounter online some like-minded denizens who think like us, want the same things and have their own finds to share with us.
Instead of traveling dirt paths or city sidewalks, we are following links, visiting sites, and exploring 3D realms. These terrains are available 24/7. We can log on or off anytime we please. We can go where we want to go for our own reasons. We are gaining satisfaction by pursuing our own aims at a pace we choose. We are free to learn naturally, like our unconscious mind does so well.This "return to the land" looks to me like a McLuhanesque reversal. Harold Jarche has explored similar reversals with cars, LMS servers and social networking technologies. The increasing use of digital terrains will transform classrooms into quaint reminders of a bygone era. Sitting still to learn will become an entertaining contrast to the vast movement in digital learning terrains. Tourists will visit the few remaining schools to sit in desks, be told what to think and take tests on textbooks. What a kick!
Meanwhile the current technological advances will restore an antiquated mode of learning from hunter-gatherer cultures. We will return to learning the landscape.