A Tiered Learning Model

A Tiered Learning Model

(While Knowledge In Your Pocket (Mobile Learning) is a result of the convergence of 3 technologies, that convergence really results in information in your pocket, but it is not yet knowledge. )

Knowledge is the ability to understand and utilize information for useful purposes. The 21st century digital world is full of information. But information really doesn’t become useful without the skill of the learner to sift and synthesize knowledge from information. Assisting or hindering the learner’s skill is the degree to which the intelligent organization of information and data support the learner’s investigation. Therein lies the opportunity for companies like COW and others who understand technology assisted learning; the organization of information and the fostering of analysis and synthesis skills in the learner. In any encounter with a domain of knowledge, from first encounter on, a human being experiences a progression of understanding that begins at “novice” and may develop as far as “expert”. This path is the path of learning. We can take it as a fact that it is a good thing for mentors to help learners progress from being novices to being experts in the domains in which they actively participate. Seen as types of mentoring devices, e-Learning and mobile learning must accommodate the changing cognitive processes as the learners knowledge grows. This can happen through a “tiered-learning model” involving three critical aspects:

*Passive Awareness: Acquisition of the basic facts, the “rules of the game”

*Critical Rehearsal: Critical thinking, analysis and decision-making simulated in the context of real-world problem-solving

*Active Professionalism: The application of knowledge in the real world and the creation of new knowledge

*Mentorship: Providing new knowledge and guidance to less knowledgeable learners

Passive Awareness (Exposure)

Acquisition of the basic facts, gathering the facts, knowing the “rules of the game”; all domains of knowledge have their basic tool kits of facts, experiences and actions; the rules of the game for that domain. These basic tools must be acquired and understood in order for the learner to eventually participate in the domain.

Acquiring the rules of the game can happen through any number of “rote learning” paradigms such as reading or the lecture, in which devices like exposure and repetition are used to establish understanding. The value this “rote-learning” tier is the acquisition of the basic tools of the domain. The danger of solely using such a rote-based tiered is that meaningful comprehension, the ability to fully participate in and manipulate the domain, may not be achieved by the learner.

Critical Rehearsal

Practice makes perfect, is a cliche that is actually very true. It is through practice with the “rules of the game” that a learner gains a deeper comprehension of a domain.

“Practice” as we define it here is the application of critical thinking, analysis and decision-making using the context of real-world problem-solving in a safe non-consequential environment of simulation. James Gee calls this type of practice “authentic professionalism”. In the context of real-world problem-solving means we simulate the real world domain that the learner will encounter. Safe, non-consequential environment means that we create an artificial environment that, to a greater or lesser degree, mimics the real world, yet does not contain the consequences of the real world. This type of simulation enables the learner to explore possibilities and learn from both success and failure without the consequence of success or failure.

The rehearsal tier can contain any number of paradigms for critical thinking and decision-making ranging from traditional assessment (text-based question descriptions requiring selection of an answer choice, a paradigm that one could argue is a primitive form of simulation) to fully immersive virtual environments in which the learner is an active player. What is common to all these paradigms is the engagement of the learner in the critical thinking manipulation of the “rules of the game”, in effect engaging the learner in the basic experience of game play. This first-hand experience is the primary means by which the learner progresses from novice to expert.

“Active Professionalism”

If could be argued that learning never stops. Instead it shifts in emphasis and degree of sophistication. Different from the “authentic professionalism of rehearsal, active professionalism comes about when knowledge absorbed and internalized and is applied in the real-world or on-the-job environment. The learner is capable of synthesizing new knowledge. E-Learning becomes just-in-time performance support material.


Finally the learner, as an authentic professional, mentors other learners, adding new knowledge to the knowledge pool and providing guidance and support for less knowledgeable learners following on the path. In this way a cultural cycle of knowledge development and utilization is created and perpetuated.