Edward Thorndike is seen as the person who showed us “how to manage a trial and error experiment in a laboratory”. This video shows how an experiment like that took place:
For people who want to read more from Thorndike here is a great resource:
Trial and error is often seen as a not so very productive way of solving problems. As one of the last things you would want to try when you need to learn something. Suitable mostly for organisms that cannot reflect on their own behavior. The basis of learning in a trial and error situation is that you get a positive stimulus from doing something right, (finding a way out in the cat-example above) which means that that behavior is reinforced and more likely to occur in the future. In order for this to work there must be neutral or negative experiences also (negative reinforcements) or otherwise you would not notice a positive reinforcement and have little idea what the desired behavior is.
Now lets take a look at what we do in the laboratory that is Etmooc. We are encouraged to try (trial) out all kinds of things; blog posts, commenting, making GIF’s, write six words stories to name a few. But it is stressed that there is no right way to do the “assignments” For the topic digital storytelling beneath the tasks it explicitly says: “you can’t break them or complete them incorrectly”. Are we introducing “trial and success” learning here? Or is the area of connected learning so new, that we have no idea about what is right or wrong in that way of learning?
At least sharing your thoughts and commenting on others seems to be a crucial aspect. But is any way to do that the right way? Or is the assumption, that because of all the connections with others, useful feedback loops will form automatically and in that way create trial and error experiences?
Maybe the organizers follow the approach that they highlight desired behavior and ignore undesired behavior?
If you do a search for posts with the etmooc hashtag with the word great you get a lot of tweets most of them sounding something like this:
So people get a lot of positive responses to what they post and you can hardly find tweets correcting people or telling them that their post was not good.
Of course there are people in ETMOOC that experience problems:
There you see trial and error at work but that seems mostly related to technical issues, which seems to be a recurring problem:
For now the conclusion about how learning takes place in ETMOOC seems to be:
but maybe we need a bit more of:
Trial and success is fun and it sure makes you feel good about what you do. Maybe a bit more focus on our mistakes and misconceptions helps also. What do you think?