Clark Aldrich and a Context for Learning

Here is another bit I finished this evening. I’ve begun my section on Aldrich…

In the tradition of Seymour Papert’s microworlds, Aldrich (2004) is interested in the way “simulations describe small worlds” (p. 152) as a context for learning. Aldrich (2005) quotes Will Thalheimer on the role of context in simulations:

“The first thing that makes simulations work is context alignment. The performance situation is similar to the learning situation… when the learners enter a real situation, you want the environment to trigger the learning. That results in a 10 to 50 percent learning impact” (Will Thalheimer, as quoted in Aldrich, 2005, p. 84).

When Aldrich (2004) discussed the objectives of designing an interface system for a simulation, his most important points were that a simulation interface should “represent the actual activity at some level” (p. 173) and “be a part of the learning” (p. 174) in the sense that simply learning the interface would help a user learn about the subject being learned. Though he advocated for keeping a simulation interface simple and streamlined (p. 175), he was interested in fidelity where it impacted learning. He suggested that a simulation interface should operate in real time such that “all options are available all the time”(p. 175). Similarly, he called for simulation design that, like the real world, included all three types of content, linear, cyclical, and open-ended (p. 99). He also opposed simulations that presented the world as it should be rather than as it is, even if this is done in the name of political correctness (p. 215).

I may need to revisit this to strengthen this section… but I expect my writing on Aldrich will be more brief than what I’ve written about the others… he spends a lot of time discussing development issues I am not concerned with.

Thanks for reading.


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