Designing for Tacit Learning (2003)

WOOD, N. RUST,C. (2003) Designing for Tacit Learning: an investigation of design strategies for multimedia supported learning in the crafts Proceeding of 5th European Academy of Design Conference, Barcelona, April 2003

Designing for Tacit Learning: an investigation of design strategies for multimedia supported learning in the crafts

Nicola Wood wrote this with support from me to describe the research from her MA at Sheffield Hallam University. This was the first step along the way to her PhD and subsequent research which has positioned her as an authority on learning and craft skills and an expert in designing learning materials that enable people to acquire expert skills. You can read her PhD thesis and other publications here and we are now (Feb 2009) working on a paper that describes her most recent work that has demonstrated that the theories developed in her MA and PhD can be integrated and work well in practice.

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There is an increasing interest and activity in the design of interactive multimedia to support learning in all fields of education and training. However, most of the theory to support such developments is concerned with learning explicit knowledge and there is little guidance available to designers of material for learning in areas with an element of tacit knowledge such as craft skills.

This paper describes the foundation work for a long-term project concerned with learning in traditional rural crafts but with the intention to provide a methodological framework for the design of multimedia-based learning in all areas of craft knowledge.

A review of established theory of learning and the use of multimedia for learning in areas of explicit knowledge indicates some important basic principles, for example the need to understand the interaction between the teacher and learner in the context of the subject being taught and the need for clear narrative structures to avoid students becoming “lost” in the multiple pathways of interactive media.

Observational studies of learning using educational video in a craft context and a study of an experienced craftsman/teacher teaching a group of learners, complemented by study of learning in related contexts, have allowed problems and issues to be identified and design strategies to be developed. While these are provisional they provide an overview of the design problems and have been used to plan a programme of experimental design and evaluation to test and develop principles of effective multimedia design for craft learning.

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