ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Personal protocol of Jon Dron’s life session

Posted on: November 23, 2011

28 participants – 29 – 32 – 33 – 34


Jon Dron: softer is easier than harder – learning is about change

Jon’s history: long years in learning technology – 3 questions – my favorite: what does technology actually mean?

Example of screwdriver

How can a screwdriver be a learning technology?
Do people learn better with screwdrivers or without screwdrivers? – I’m learning without one!
Tt’s the way that you do it – not what you do!


How we believe that people learn, eg. if repetition is important, we can exploit it using technology
“Pedagogies are technologies” – we “orchestrate” learning scenarios – technology has not to be included in a machine

Soft and hard

Old technologies  – assembly (Anordnung mehrerer Teile)

“Soft technologies” – instruction designs makes use of soft technologies
“Hard technologies”: can be human-embodied too (e.g. a judge, rigid way to apply rules)

We make things hard because it is easy, it is efficient. In learning technology we often want to make things easier, more reliable, more regular, brittle (brüchig)

Soft technology is “hard” to use, “we” have to orchestrate the processes. Soft is incomplete, it needs people. Soft technology is flexible, a continuum

MOOCs are super soft. A learning platform as e.g. moodle is a different tool for teachers or students.
We dance between different technologies, pedagogies.

A lot of technology has poor compatibility – hard technology structure our spaces – relationship between hard and soft is uneven.
Facebook is hard, it is about making connections
Teachers are forced to use “hard technologies” provided by the university


Getting the right balance between softness and hardness – not too hard … not too soft … just right

How to
Assembly is the key – combine soft and hard
Adapt – to add something, e.g. to a students assessment system the possibility of some dialogue
Example of twitter – small amount of text, using hashtags, twitter embedded it into the system, it made the system softer

Loosing my internet connection – what an exasperation!

Questions / discussion

Stephen Downes: design of the MOOC = learning environment that is softer as common learning management – people think they are gone to far
How do we know wether to make “it” softer or harder?

Jon: problem of the MOOC: it could be too soft for some and too hard for others

Jon: languages are technology to think with  – we shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us

learning is best done together

My tweet in twitter: softer = more open?
jondron @jupidu soft technology is open to change but not *necessarily* in other ways

To read more: Quick overview over Jon’s ideas

See as well Adjacent chaos/anarchy/growth/domination/futures – great blog post of opendistanceteachingandlearning

1 Response to "Personal protocol of Jon Dron’s life session"

Thanks for the summary – really find it useful. Could not attend the session. Must confess that when this week started I was scared that “soft” would be portrayed as “good” and “hard” as bad – and I suspect, if I understand your summary correctly, that the “solution” lies in combinations of soft and hard and to be constantly aware that “soft” technologies can harden and lose their potential for change.

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