I speak all around the world on a regular basis. I speak on education, corporate training, innovation, the human learning and memory system, what is wrong with universities, corporate memory, artificial intelligence and sometimes, shipping and intelligent enterprise software in shipping.
I spent the better part of two days with Roger during his visit, sharing meals, listening to his prepared lectures and sitting in on informal conversations with faculty and administrators. Today what stands out most to me from all of this is Roger’s unabashed commitment to learning. He really cares about it. He wants people–everyone, everywhere–to learn. I know that sounds trite, but when you meet a larger-than-life scholar (Roger’s the only person I’ve met who has written 25 books) you aren’t quite sure what to think of them. In my estimation, Schank is motivated by a deep-in-the-bones belief and desire that all people should have more and better opportunities to learn than they do today. Not only is he a revolutionary, but he’s a true believer.
...Citing his recent experience teaching his grandson to crawl by putting a green squeaky frog just out of his reach, Schank reinforced the value of providing students with real-world learning situations. Deriding “required courses” (and plain “courses” for that matter), Schank argues for a story-based curriculum in which students are required to solve the kinds of practical problems they are likely to face in real life. His new science-based high school curriculum, for example, requires students to (among other things) file a report about a crime scene, create an exercise and nutrition plan for a client, and identify and eradicate a mysterious fungus destroying farmer’s crops. As students work toward these goals, they are provided with the facts, information, theories, formulas, etc. they need to succeed. Story-based, goal-driven curriculum doesn’t require artificial, external motivation for students. The motivation is intrinsic in the learning activities themselves.
Roger Schank followed with a well-received keynote... Roger is a guy people either love or hate. He's a brilliant, iconoclastic, devilish, gourmet professor-provocateur with a distinguished background at Yale, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. Very full of himself. The issue is whether you feel he deserves to be or not. I love the guy.
Myth #1 is that good training (and thus good eLearning) copies school. School is boring and largely irrelevant, teaching a curriculum devised at Harvard in 1898 for training future professors.
Myth #2 is that schooling (and also eLearning) is preparation for work. Maybe if you're a professor. For the rest of us, who needs algebra?
Myth #3 is that people can learn by being told. When I'm talking, you're internally reacting to what I'm saying; you keep thinking while I keep talking. You can't actually hear a lecture.
Myth #4 is that learning can take place without real driving goals. Roger gave us the Boeing 757 exam: How many exits on a 757? What do the red & orange lights mean? What do you do if the slide doesn't inflate? You've heard it hundreds of times but you don't remember it because there is no associated goal. The whole art of teaching is the art of awaking one’s natural curiosity.