Categories
Aesthetics Instructional Design

The Aesthetic Experience of Learning

Towards an Emphasis on the Aesthetic Experience

When it comes to learning, much attention is given to the procedures that govern the transfer of information from one individual to another (Gagné, 1985), the structures that facilitate that transfer of information (Gibbons, 2003; Gibbons 2014), and methods that can be used to develop self-regulated learners (Järvelä & Renninger, 2014; Nilson, 2013). Learning as an experience has also been addressed in recent years. Wilson and Parrish (2011) defined a transformative learning experience as one that “leaves a lasting impact on a person’s sense of competence or place in the world” (p. 11-12). Additionally, Parrish has advocated for increased emphasis on aesthetics in instructional design (2005) and has explored the potential that attention to aesthetics may have on a learner’s engagement with an experience (2009). 

But what is the substance of an aesthetic experience? To arrive at an understanding of how aesthetics may enhance an experience, a deeper understanding of both may be useful. Such an understanding may deepen the value an instructional designer places on the aesthetic elements of their work, prompting them to place as much value on them as they do the content to be presented, or the instructional system that transmits it. The purpose of this paper is to review some philosophical principles about the substance of an experience and to explore aesthetic principles from philosophers who have described the phenomena of an aesthetic experience. Approaching an understanding of what constitutes an aesthetic experience may aid a practitioner in recognizing elements that may enhance or detract from the overall learning experience. In this paper I establish a framework for defining what an experience is, provide an aesthetic point of view from which an experience may be evaluated, and present principles of aesthetics from three aesthetic philosophers.

Categories
Aesthetics Graphic Design Instructional Design

Aesthetic Perspectives of Instructional Design from the Standpoint of a Former Graphic Designer

Introduction

Instructional designers are responsible for creating situations where learners spend a considerable amount of time in the pursuit of the learning for which it was created. The quality of the experience of the learner has an impact on their interest in the subject matter, their motivation to continue with the materials, and their level of engagement with the content (Järvelä & Renninger, 2014). An aesthetic experience is known to be of the type to maintain the deep engagement of an observer to a work of art (Dewey, 1934) and is recognized as being autotelic, in that the experience itself becomes its own reward (Csikszentmihalyi & Robinson, 1990). If such aesthetic qualities could result from a learning experience, then increased focus on cultivating an aesthetic experience in instructional design may provide a foundation for increased learner engagement, which could improve learning outcomes. If the value of instructional design is ultimately to improve learning outcomes, and if aesthetic qualities can enhance learning experiences, then instructional designers might do well to be attentive to the aesthetic qualities of their designs.

This qualitative study endeavors to gain insight from the experience of a specific instructional designer that has specialized training in graphic design. By its very nature, graphic design is a practice that is intent on inducing aesthetic experiences. Insight into how such an instructional designer approaches the work may prove insightful for other instructional designers for ways to work so that the culminating product can produce an experience that may be characterized as aesthetic. 

Categories
Aesthetics Instructional Design

Situating Aesthetics in Learning

Introduction

Creators of learning interventions have a number of considerations to address for their learners. These concerns include learning objectives, task and skills analysis, intra-learning activities, teacher or trainer and student interactions, assessment strategies, and program or product evaluations. In an effort to ensure the effectiveness of learning interventions, additional strategies and theories have been developed to aid administrators of learning efforts in fostering learning skills and behaviors in their pupils. Among these strategies is self-regulated learning, which endeavors to create students who are primed and oriented to be ideal receptacles of the knowledge that is being conveyed (Nilson, 2013). These theories lay out a variety of activities intended to create more engaged learners through a range of activities that supplement traditional reading and writing. These activities include strategies for 1) setting goals for each learning session, 2) planning how to accomplish learning tasks, 3) directing focus to stay on task, 4) monitoring their mind to avoid distraction, fatigue or discouragement, 5) maintaining motivation to learn, and 6) intermittently evaluating their command of the material being learned (p. 3). Little is included, however, in these theories related to the willingness of the student to participate in such learning activities. If the quest of bettering oneself through the acquisition of knowledge is insufficient motivation for a learner to regulate themselves, how can additional teacher-imposed activities improve student engagement?

Categories
Design

Reflections on Design: A Theory

Introduction/Personal background

What is the purpose of a design theory? To try to exhibit to others the reasons and methods you use to produce your work? To attempt to sway others to working and thinking the way you do? To share the secrets of your personal success so that others might experience it too? In endeavoring to write this paper, I am hesitant to speak in too many absolutes and to declare too strongly my preference for one mode of thinking or one technique over another for fear of becoming the stereotypical dieter or self-help enthusiast who, having found a way of living that is working for them becomes an evangelist believing that the rest of the world must adopt this way of life as well.

With that in mind, the following sections are presented as a contemplation on several aspects of design, such as what design is, what makes a good designer, what makes a good design, and how to become a designer. 

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