Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learning, Broken Down

I stumbled on this as I was doing my soldier research, in order for me to do an accounting of man-hours of learning or training. the differences became apparent when I started comparing Secondary Education and Recruit Training. Schools and Boot Camps have to be fairly efficient, and despite their variability of circumstances and applicants there are useful averages which help us benchmark. If this was communicated to me in Gamer Terms, I think I would have had a more informed decision and would have ended with a worthwhile degree (arts degree in an emerging market and struggling economy, suffice to say gaming saved my ass).

It is recommended that 1 hour of class per week is followed up by 2-3hours of self study.[1]

What is the relationship to this and Gaming?

Character Development. First is that in GURPS, in the chapters of improvement through study, B292, allows you to break down the manhours of study based on On-The-Job, Self-Teaching, Education and Intense Training.
  • On-the-Job Training vs Learning On-the-Job is not what it seems. In where I work, OJTs are not exactly an asset. There are laws that prevent such labor abuses, and in fact they are the fastest way to learn. So it is a surprise that is the SLOWEST way to learn in GURPS. When in my opinion and how closely it almost mimics Regimented Study (assuming the OJT is with a responsible firm)
  • Self Study is the Slowest way to learn. When you compare the 4 methods of learning, and have read-up on Dan Ariel's work on deadlines [2][3], the barriers of self-study becomes quite evident. These barriers are distractions, logistics, improved equipment, and accessibility to information.
  • What is Intensive Training. If you look at the Recruit Training, the entire training experience is strictly regimented. In the study of Dan Ariely[2] the results say strictly imposed deadlines had the best performance rates. So what B293 means by "full-time" study is that there is no Homework or Self-study outside the area of instruction and contact with the Instructor. Every hour of the day is accounted for, and in human averages that is a 4-8 hours per day. The second 4-hour set of learnings being the easier topics.

Realistic Learning. Part of what I realized when I learned these values was a more realistic expectation on learning. I'm advising my 18year old cousin in his choice of college course, as well as developing training material for our personnel one of the few pieces of information mostly people miss is these hard facts about learning.

Learning curves affect ROI and productivity, (can't help apply my munchkinism in my work) when taking on new challenges and horizons there is that little detail about: "When will competence improve productivity to the point that we are getting a return in our investment and hopefully a profit?" This detail helps project forward.

As for Quality of Life. What if in school, when we calculate the credits per week we include catharsis, fun, socialization, and partying in the accounting of time. In the selection of credits (in the Philippines its called Unit) curriculum, why not look at a those necessary and unavoidable social and cathartic needs.

The trick is investing in productivity enhancing study habits and to work towards an equilibrium. Working to bring down the 2.5 hours per credit of study, by finding ways to cut corners and achieve multiple goals in one action.

I'm sure you've heard that Games help us learn. But I want to point out in the accounting of study hours[1], Instruction or Information is about 30% (1:3.5) of learning, the other 70% is the practice and application.

  • Groups Study, can be a team building exercise fulfilling socialization needs as well as competency needs.
  • Developing a study resource, your own wiki of your notes, combines organizational and logistic exercises. Maybe a way to speed up the production of papers, by having a set of footnotes to import.
  • and my favorite, Finding a way to convert Study material into Games. The kind of games that best incorporates Serious Academic material, IMO, will be RPGs. In the spirit of Dan Ariely's The Upside of Irrationality, trying to use our games time to learn and exercise our thinking is a game in itself.

[1]Motion on Study Hours per Credit Hour. I can't afford to cite the journals that have the same ratios, because they require subscription but the key search term is "Study Hours per Credit Hour".
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