July 02, 2010

Experiential learning and design thinking

From David Kolb's Experiential Learning:

"All the models above [Lewin, Dewey, Piaget, Freire etc] suggest the idea that learning is by its very nature a tension and conflict-filled process. New knowledge, skills, or attitudes are achieved through confrontation among four modes of experiential learning. Learners, if they are to be effective, need four different kinds of abilities - concrete experience abilities (CE), reflective observation abilities (RO), abstract conceptualization abilities (AC), and active experimentation (AE) abilities. That is, they must be able to involve themselves fully, openly, and without bias in new experiences (CE). They must be able to observe their experiences from many perspectives (RO). They must be able to create concepts that integrate their observations into logically sound theories (AC), and they must be able to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems (AE). Yet this ideal is difficult to achieve. How can one act and reflect at the same time? How can one be concrete and immediate and still be theoretical? Learning requires abilities that are polar opposites, and the learner, as a result, must continually choose which set of learning abilities he or she will bring to bear in any specific situation." (Kolb, 1984: 30)

Just as successful design requires the application of potentially conflicting attitudes. Tim Brown describes how they can be represented (metaphorically, and physically) as separate spaces, and how this makes it easier for the design team to move between the different attitudes as required.

Kolb, D Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, 1984.

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