TARGET Learning Process: the aim is to define the process supported by a pedagogical framework for using the TARGET platform, highlighting the interplay between the various stages of the process.
The diagram reflects the learning process, which conceptually consists of four distinct phases:
Plan. The TARGET Learning Process begins with the learners deciding if they wish to do goal-oriented learning (entry point 1) or self-directed learning (entry point 2). In the case of goal-oriented learning, the learners define their current competence profile and their desired learning outcome in the form of outlining their target competence profile, which allows the system to create the competence gap. The result of this leads to the creation of a learning plan based on custom stories tailored to the particular needs of the individual learner captured by the competence gap. Each story captures a situated context where the learner is challenged in using competences by assuming a character role within a business context. The process of creating the learning plan is governed and shaped by a learning strategy that is chosen by the learner. In the case of self-directed learning, the learner builds his/her learning plan from the TARGET knowledge assets made publically available by others within the community (this may be other learners or content providers with crafted stories).
Execution. This phase involves the learner selecting a role within a Story, resulting in an experience. Whilst engaged with the Story, the system provides an environment where the learner engages with other characters (either controlled by another learner or a Non-Player Character) and the environment, enacting their decisions. These decisions will have an impact which will affect and change the situated context of the Story. Whilst experiencing a Story, the system will monitor the actions of the learner, taking into account the desired learning outcomes, thus making changes to the Story if necessary. As examples, these changes may be modifying the personality of a Non-Player Character to be more confrontational or delaying tasks within a project.
Reflection. This phase initiates with the termination of the learner’s experience of the Story. The learner is then presented with the final assessment of their competence during the experience in the form of a timeline manner. The ability of looking back on his/her decisions by reviewing how the story unfolded whilst cross-referencing the assessment of their competence at each point in time, allows the learner to evaluate his/her performance leading to reflection from an individual perspective.
Repertoire Building. The TARGET learning process supports the learner in externalizing the tacit knowledge acquired during the Execution of stories, thereby contributing to the creation of knowledge assets. Here the learning community plays an important role in the process with the support of recognized mentors as facilitators. Furthermore, the social aspects address the need of an ability to deal with flux and instability, and to thrive in situations of flux (Kelly 1994). Learning is here seen as an ecology; the constant interplay between the knowledge worker and their context. Through the engagement with others and reflection, the learner will internalize his/her experience, thus enabling them to enhance his/her repertoire.
The process does not necessarily need to start with entry point 1 or 2, but in fact a learner may begin with two other entry points, namely:
· Entry point 3. A learner has decided to share a knowledge asset by making it available to others within the community. This means that a learner’s session does not need to involve the other phases of the learning process as they may engage directly in the socialization by interacting with others over the interest of a particular knowledge asset. This involves discussion and exchange of knowledge.
· Entry point 4. In this case, the learner has just finished his/her experience and stored his/her experience in the knowledge ecosystem but without making it available to others. However, the learner may engage with mentors to assist and facilitate his/her reflection over the experience. Each of the experiences is to be further explained in the subsequent sections of this chapter.
The Individual experience
The individual experience consists of the learner acquiring some theoretical knowledge relevant to their intended use of TARGET; this might for example relate to the project management body of knowledge or might relate to innovation (both of these are core areas for TARGET – among sustainable global manufacturing with the new EEU partners joining to the project.). A learner who comes with at least some background knowledge can then begin to use TARGET to learn how to make his/her theoretical knowledge part of his/her active repertoire. This is done by engaging with the serious game engine that provides a business context where the learner is required to apply his/her competences. The business context will be presented explicitly to enhance the metacognitive skills of the learner and to make sure that he/she perceive the business context in the expected way. From that point on, the main TARGET process operates. The process initiates by determining the learning plan and this involves determining the competence gap to be addressed, which consequently results in a set of stories. The competence gap is done by means of the Competence Analyzer.
The choice of which learning strategies are to be proposed to the learner is made via the TARGET Navigator, which enables the learner to manage all his/her learning plans and monitor his/her progress by collating all the assessment information.
The process of building the set of stories from the competence gap is driven by what is known as the competence framework, where a set of competences (gap) determines the narrative building blocks to be composed together for a story. This will be done by the Didactical Competence Modeller (D4.5).
At any given time, the learner selects the learning plan to execute, which implies experiencing the game stories of the plan in the established sequence. Throughout the experience, the TARGET platform provides immediate feedback to the performance of the learner, which via the Artificial Mentor, results in the fine tuning of the experience itself by adapting the game story.
Once the learner has completed a particular game story, he/she is provided with a final assessment that is based on both qualitative and quantitative measures. The assessment is done by providing the measures in a timeline aligned with the playback of the execution of the story. This facilitates the learner’s ability for critical reflection by enabling him/her to visualize the performance of his/her competence as the experience of the story unfolds. However, at any given point in time, the learner may engage with the story, triggering a branch of the game story.
Although each player of the game has his/her own individual experience, the learner may collaborate with other learners in a multi-user experience irrespective of their roles as collaborators or competitors in the story. In this case, the learner engages with other learners to experience the same story at the same time, meaning that each leaner will exclusively choose a particular character role. The number of learners is delimited by the number of character roles associated to the Story. However, the critical reflection remains an individual experience, which may be facilitated by a mentor.
The final step of the learning process from an individual’s experience to something more than that is what happens if learners decide to share the story that emerged from their execution of the game scenario along with their performance assessment data. Once this is uploaded to the knowledge ecology, it becomes available for the community to engage with.
The Social Experience
Evidence demonstrates that externalization of tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1967) and learning (Wenger, 1998) is useful in making that knowledge active (in the sense of a learner being able to transfer knowledge to a new context, such as day-to-day challenges they face as new hires in an organization, e.g., Wiig, 2003). Externalization can benefit from socialization where learners interact with one another, exchanging experience and knowledge. According to the Socialization Externalization Composition Internalization (SECI) framework (Nonaka, 1995), which was drawn upon by the EC Networks of Excellence (NoEs) PROLEARN, KALEIDOSCOPE and STELLAR and the MATURE project, there is a strong cultural dimension to this; some authors claim that the eastern cultures have a more community driven attitude within organizations.
This socialization process may be augmented by a facilitator, such as an educational professional or a mentor. In the case of the latter, the mentor may be another more experienced learner that uses the system that voluntary facilitates others in need; an employee that has assumed the organizational role of mentor in addition to their current job responsibilities; or yet, mentoring may be a service provided by a professional mentor.
Despite the strong body of theory on the benefits of social learning, most supporting technology enhanced learning systems focus on content delivery although more recently the phenomena of web 2.0 has placed the spotlight on how to support social processes explicitly (Downes, 2005).
In TARGET, support for the social processes of learning is fundamental and considered a crucial part of the supporting platform1. The platform offers multiple ways of engaging with other learners, beginning with one of the entry points for the learner to engage with the TARGET platform: a social setting in the form of a 3D environment where learners may congregate and interact with one another using the social tools provided. The 3D environment is denominated as the Lounge2 and is supported by virtual world technologies.
The TARGET platform provides a focal point for deeper types of socialization in the form of the Knowledge Ecology, which encompasses all the knowledge generated and managed by the various communities of TARGET. To support the sharing of knowledge, the platform provides appropriate tools for the management of knowledge, in addition to the social tools that provide web2.0 features such as blogs, wikis, micro-blogging, tagging, etc.
In the process of sharing knowledge, the community matures the existing knowledge in the knowledge ecology3. The combination of sharing knowledge and socialisation contributes to the critical reflection by an individual within a group context.