30 Day Question Challenge – Day 1- Complicated or Complex

My colleague here in our Center for Teaching ExcellenceEnoch Hale – intellectually pushes me all the time…and that is a good thing.  Enoch has become a valued addition to co-teaching GRAD-602 with Jeff Nugent this semester.  If you have listened to some of our podcasts, you have heard him.

Like many of our colleagues, Enoch is beginning to explore the concept of networked learning.  He has recently started blogging.   In yesterday’s post, he posed an open challenge: Post an out-of-the-box question about teaching and learning each day for 30 days.  He came up with this idea after hearing me talk about my own blogging challenge issued by Michele M. Martin back in 2008, and recently modeled by Michele in her 30 Juicy Questions series.  Enoch is doing this to jumpstart his own blogging…but it is a great way to potentially build a personal learning network via blogs.

I’m game.  As Enoch noted, answers can stop thinking, but questions move thinking forward.

Enoch’s question yesterday was: DAY 1: What would my class look like if every student embodied a sense of intellectual playfulness?  Great question.  The concept of “play” is ingrained in pre-schoolers’ learning, but “school” too often seems to strip play away from learning.

So, my question:  Day 1: Is the instructional design for teaching with new media complicated or complex?

This question came to my mind after reading Harold Jarche‘s post back in February – Management in Perpetual Beta.  He suggested that managers with good judgement might still make poor decisions, because they are viewing problems as complicated, when in fact they are complex:

“Complicated, in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense – Analyze – Respond and we can apply good practice.

Complex, in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe – Sense – Respond and we can sense emergent practice.”

In my view, integrating new media into teaching is an emergent practice…and as yesterday’s post suggests, must be viewed in context.  So, does that make the instructional design complicated (which suggests right and wrong answers) or complex (which suggests experimentation because we do not yet know “right”)?  Just yesterday, Debbie Morrison posted “Why is Adoption of Educational Technology So Challenging?… ‘It’s Complicated’“.  My question – is it complicated?  Or is it complex…and how might that change of terms impact design?

If you are in on Enoch’s 30-Day challenge, link back to his blog so that he can collect – as he says – the collective genius.


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One thought on “30 Day Question Challenge – Day 1- Complicated or Complex

  1. Seems to me the answer to your two part question is, complex/depends.

    Clearly a complex task. Impact on design suggests experimentation – but the more interesting, and fiscally important question is when does experimental result translate complex into complicated? What are the agreed upon signposts that it’s time to move on? This may not be winterizing question for educators, but this old scoop board member can assure you administrators will be interested.

    And that raised another important issue about design – should administrators be involved from the outset to help set experimentation limits?


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