Thursday, March 15, 2012

Learning Theories and TTRPGs

I'm studying up on studying and here are learning techniques inherent in Table-Top Roleplaying. While i was going through this several big flash bulbs were lighting up over my head. I can completely relate because most of what I studied was learning through doing TTRPGs, and my preparation for the games as a GM. If you took the Time Use sheet in GURPS and applied it to your self, you'll know what I mean.

Learning through Elaboration - basically it works by giving more meaning and relevance to information, by finding a way to connect to it. Its just how we memorize gear tables, monsters manual, ability lists... its all relevant to our character so we instantly absorb it.     
Learning through Storytelling - the act of telling stories is an act of processing our own experiences. its recoding and organizing the experience with the most optimized structure, allowing us to best remember and incorporate the in our personal narrative. As we learn to tell stories we are aided by our teachers   instructional scaffolding. In a peer learning environment we get to look at various methods and if better use these as scaffolding to improve on our storytelling. 
It makes me realize that when something serious and life changing happens, we repeat our personal narrative and continue to work through it until it makes sense when we incorporate the serious event in to it. For good events, we passively make edits over time only allowing us to appreciate the matter later on, as for bad events we do the same (that is why its important to write and talk about it) and allow us to move on when the narrative starts to make sense. 
Learning through Visualization - Visualization can count as practice when practicing a task. studies point out they are very close to similar to practicing the task, that there is little to no difference from those who did do the physical practice. Note that Visualization doesn't take as much resources as Practice and allow us to go into circumstances we cannot normally go into. Visualization in TTRPGs are dangerous situations if it were real, I think some of the visualization can contribute to our growth. 
Learning through cooperation and sharing of information - a TTRPG is a social environment with people, sometimes, freely sharing their information and alternative strategies. We tell each other stories and others turn those stories around or recode them even better. 
Elaborative Storytelling vs efficient story telling. Efficient Story telling is getting the facts right and summarizing it to a timely fashion as necessitated by the circumstance, Elaborative storytelling is finding out all the little details that make the experience human and real. Elaborative storytelling is a skill we teach to children when ask them how their day was, some cultures prefer efficient. The advantage of elaborative storytelling is that it uses elaboration and storytelling learning in synergistic effect. Children who learn this method come out with much longer and detailed stories, being able to notice more of the details and absorb it. As an adult, it helps us think more about our lives and we have permission in the TTRPG setting. 
Discovery based Learning, Guided Discovery-based learning. Pure discovery based learning is worse than traditional learning, it makes sense to me because there is no structure and processes that would evolve and speed up learning. also there it is up to the student to find his motivation, which requires emotional maturity. The middleway between Traditional and Discovery based is Guided Discover-based learning which gives structure and "scaffolding". Also the Guide can help develop motivation and relevance to the reasons for discovery. 
As a TTRPG gamer, when I hear Discovery Based learning, I think of sandbox/organic settings. In the sandbox settings it is up to the players to figure out structure and motivation. That is why the GM has to give clues and low hanging fruit. He has to have a guide to give structure and proper motivation.  
Problem based learning, Guided Problem-based learning. In real work I get a lot of exposure to this, and the formula is the same with me or the people I work with. We can only go so far on our own until frustration catches up and the diminishing returns make other tasks more relevant and do-able, leaving the problem unresolved or failed. Pure Problem based learning is BAD, that's why you always need some guide or someone of higher skill. I'm not sure about the differences between pure problem-based vs traditional. So I'll skip to the Guided problem based learning: Case Studies. In my more early posts I've drawn heavily from the formula of Case Studies for running games, now (confirmation bias possible) I'm surprised my reasons and hypothesis was already a theory before I knew it to be.  
In my second to the last post (at the end) I pointed out that I think it is a more effective use of time to give problems where characters face a moral, ethical, economic, tactical, political, social etc.. dilemma than a large series of word, symbol, and mechanical puzzles. GMs don't have to serve as "master" but can be part of the audience looking at how everyone rationalizes and use all the other techniques to solve these problems. 

Bottom Line - TTRPGs is a Min-Maxer's learning tool. Its synergies with so many techniques, ever hour spent has a high return-on-investment in both satisfaction, personal and professional growth. 
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