From Novice to Grok

I have been reading The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, by Karl M Kapp. An excellent book that I recommend to anyone interested in the design of learning. Chapter 7 talks about the difference between the internal knowledge structures of novices and experts.

This has interested me for some time because most of the eLearning we are asked to design will be delivered to all employees in an organisation. Whether a novice or an expert, whether they have 4 or 40 years of experience, they will be required to complete the same course.

Which brings me to the term ‘Grok’. This was a new term to me. According to Kapp, the term ‘grok’ was coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. A grok is a person who has moved from intellectual understanding to intuitive understanding. This is similar to the transition from ‘consciously competent’ to ‘unconsciously competent’ but seems to go beyond it.

There are two key challenges in eLearning:

  1. How to help the learner move from novice to grok
  2. How to deliver training, simultaneously, to novices and groks

We regularly use basic strategies to support both of these challenges – providing multiple scenarios that build from simple to complex in a range of contexts to help the novice gain both knowledge and experience; giving the learners a selection of pathways through the course. Part of what makes the design of eLearning so exciting, however, is the challenge, with each new course, to find new ways to support both novices and groks.

This issue is not restricted to eLearning. We can see it in the classroom and professional development programs. It is a challenge to create a training session or program that will appeal to the novice and the grok.

What strategies do you use to create training for novices and groks?

— Bronte

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