The Art and Science of Human / Machine Learning Design

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AMG Explained

Human / Machine Learning Promises Neurocognitive Advantages Over Traditional Methods

Introducing Anthromekagogy to Address Instructional Design Needs

Instructional designers are presented with game changing opportunities when developing learning content for technologies that approach human / machine integration. Technologies like immersive worlds[1], augmented realities[2] and cognitive augmentation systems[3] unlock enormous potential as long as we develop content that leverages that power. Developers face significant challenges working with environments that depend on the engagement of multiple senses[4], complex storylines[5] and subliminal processing of emotional information[6]. Various experiential learning methods address some of these needs however, advancement in Instructional Systems Design[7] is required to realize optimal learning outcomes.

As we approach the Singularity[8] or the theoretical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, we must acknowledge the growing relationship that learners have with technology. The implications of technology assisting us in organizing data, remembering facts and processing potential outcomes need to be treated / addressed separately from the practice of controlling such technology.

Pedagogy[9] is the method and practice of teaching, esp. as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Looking at the Greek origin of the word, (país, genitive παιδός, paidos) means “child” and άγω (ágō) means “lead”; literally translated “to lead the child”. Teaching knowledge for the purpose of passing tests falls short of the needs of almost all learners especially those needing to learn how to perform tasks, solve complex problem or think critically.

Andragogy[10] is best described as teaching strategies developed for adult learners. The word is derived from the Greek ἀνήρ (άndras) or “man” [rather than ενήλικ which means “adult”] and άγω (ago) to “lead”; so it literally means, “to lead the man.” This approach stresses knowhow over simple knowledge transfer in the spirit of mastery and when work product is the objective the contrast to pedagogy is significant.

AnthromekagogyTM[11] (or AMG) literally means “to lead the blended human / machine enabled learner”. The word is derived from the Greek Anthropos (Άνθρωπος) for human, the word machine derives from the Latin word machina, which in turn derives from the Greek (Doric μαχανά makhana) and and άγω (ágō) means “lead”. The term represents a new approach to learning design where a homogeneous relationship between human and technology is leveraged for the benefit of the learner.

Taxonomy[12] finds its roots in the Greek τάξις, taxis (meaning ‘order’, ‘arrangement’) and νόμος, nomos (‘law’ or ‘science’) and forms the basis for both what and how content is presented in context. When the objective is passing a test, facts are presented in a linear progression that supports factual recall. Workplace requirements are performance based and include application of critical thinking and decision making abilities. Andragogy delivers knowhow through a hierarchical structure intended to extrapolate knowledge, combine situational awareness and context to solve problems and get work done. While this seems logical it is seldom applied in corporate learning.

The taxonomy of anthromekagogy is an even greater departure than the previous example because it involves the application of two new elements. Complex storytelling and user interactivity (personalization) create learning that involves the learner as a participant rather than an observer as in the other examples. The participant can now focus attention on areas of interest and control the pace of the experience in a personal way. Unlike the previous examples, the participant is immersed in the storyline and becomes invested in the outcome of the characters. Rather than being told that an answer is wrong, they are witness to the outcome in a way that makes failure and resulting consequences real. Failing forward is learning from experiencing the consequences of failure and is a desired anthromekagogic element.

Harmut Rosa said; “The acceleration of technological innovation has been outstripped by the increase in the quantity of activity”[13]. Learning designers cannot simply leverage technology to increase the quantity of information and expect a positive result. Technology enabled learning is already over packed with low quality, high quantity material that deadens the senses of participants. Instructional design has followed this trend by packing too much information into a small space for the learner to experience in context leaving no margin for application.

Brain engagement improves through active participation and emotional attachment to the storyline and outcome. Leveraging technology enhanced environments creates engagement, stimulates the Contextual Associations Network[14] and preserves long-term recall. Learning designers will develop techniques for optimizing the potential of the technology and its relationship with users by carefully assigning responsibility for accessing key brain components through technology. Using the integrated technologies now and soon to be available, designers will be given new tools and need a new design science to get everything possible from it.

Gamification illustrates the use of badges, rewards, levels, powers, competition and many other strategies practiced in entertainment gaming[15]. It is powerful but incomplete as a method of developing learning content because it lacks a process for leveraging the blend of human thought and the roll of technology. Anthromekagogy is the natural progression of learning design as it takes these needs into account by leveraging immersion[16], non player characters[17], artificial intelligence[18], situational awareness [19]and ability to see causality to participate in team based exercises through realistic simulations.

Minor additions to existing instructional technology do not address the active participation of technology. Most eLearning today still makes the “Next” button its primary interaction and it would be unfair to ask that practice to scale unreasonably. Immersive worlds, augmented reality, simulations[20], implantable assistive technologies[21] and even biomechanisms[22] will require learning to be developed to exploit its full potential.

Anthromekagogy represents an evolution in instructional design where technology is an active agent in the learning process, not just display technology. Learning developers will assign roles to technology and design simulations that prepare learners for the real world complete with memories of actually doing rather than just watching. The learning outcomes will be better and faster and last in memory longer with the ability to adapt know-how more effectively.

[1] immersive worlds, Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993-2006). Edgewise Press. New York, N.Y. 2009; Joseph Nechvatal

[2] augmented realities – http://mashable.com/category/augmented-reality/

[3] cognitive augmentation systems – Advances in Open Domain Question Answering (Text, Speech and Language Technology) Hardcover – January 1, 2006

[4] engagement of multiple senses – The Contemporary Condition: The Smell of Democracy?

[5] complex storylines – A guide to managing complex storylines – Part 1 – Suspense, Hooks and Wet Fish

[6] subliminal processing of emotional information – Personality, mood, and cognitive processing of emotional information: three conceptual frameworks. CL Rusting – Psychological bulletin, 1998

[7] Instructional Systems Design – Instructional System Design: The ADDIE Model

[8] Singularity – The Singularity is Near www.singularity.com/‎ By Raymond Kurzweil; Viking Press, 2005

[9] Pedagogy – the art, science, or profession of teaching, Merriam-Webster

[10] Andragogy – MOVING FROM PEDAGOGY TO ANDRAGOGY Adapted and Updated from Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990)

[11] Anthromekagogy – to lead the blended human / machine enabled learner, anthromekagogy.com

[12] Taxonomy – the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups, Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary

[13] “The acceleration of technological innovation has been outstripped by the increase in the quantity of activity” – David Harvey on Space – Time Compression

[14] Contextual Associations Network – Early onset of neural synchronization in the contextual associations network, Edited by Robert Desimone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and approved January 12, 2011

[15] Gamification – is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.

[16] Immersion – instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study

[17] non player characters – A non-player character (NPC) is a video game character that is controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence (AI) rather than by a gamer.

[18] artificial intelligence – Luger, George; Stubblefield, William (2004). Artificial Intelligence: Structures and Strategies for Complex Problem Solving (5th ed.). The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 0-8053-4780-1

[19] situational awareness – A Practical Guide to Situational Awareness

[20] Simulations – C. Aldrich (2003). Learning by Doing : A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in e-Learning and Other Educational Experiences. San Francisco: Pfeifer — John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-7879-7735-1.

[21] implantable assistive technologies – Combining Brain–Computer Interfaces and Assistive Technologies: State-of-the-Art and Challenges, J. d. R. Millán, R. Rupp, […], and D. Mattia

[22] Biomechanisms – Donald R. Peterson, Joseph D. Bronzino, Biomechanics: Principles and Applications, ISBN 0-8493-8534-2