Premise of Incidental Learning

The important premise behind the incidental learning is that when a student is doing something that is fun, he can be learning a great deal without having to notice it. Learning does not necessarily have to be jammed down a student's throat. Rather, students should be allowed to adopt goals and be given materials that will cause them to pick up the desired information "in passing." It is up to course designers to construct situations in which factual knowledge can be naturally acquired. This is the basis of the Incidental Learning Architecture.

The first trick in employing the Incidental Learning Architecture is to find things that are inherently fun to do on a computer. This could be any good video game for example. The second trick is harder. What the student naturally wants to learn in the video game ought to be worth learning. The problem is to change the skills to be learned from hand-eye coordination tasks to content-based tasks, where one needs to know real information in order to accomplish one's goal on the computer. This will work well if there is a natural correlation between the content-based tasks and what is inherently fun.

Since it emphasizes the importance of getting students engaged in interesting tasks, the Incidental Learning Architecture can be seen as a version of the Simulation-Based Learning-By-Doing Architecture. The emphasis of the task in the Incidental Learning architecture is different, however. Typically, in learning-by-doing exercises, we want the student to learn the skills involved in the task. But, in the Incidental Learning Architecture, the emphasis is on the facts involved. The student's task is constructed so as to bring him into contact with the facts in a natural way.

Next Story The Opportunity of Incidental Learning

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