Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning by Watching

While learning a new skill, a new profession, there is almost no substitute to watching another expert while he works. PhD process tries to foster this by having teacher / student work side by side. Student sees how teacher approaches problems, how they think. Perhaps most importantly -and the teacher does not have to say many words for this kind of transmission- student sees how much time teacher spends on what, what kind of tools is used, and his overall attitude. Does teacher scribble something on paper, ponder, than go to some tool, look at results, ponder some more (or not), and say "F@#$k! ?? He was expecting __certain approach__ to work? Why did he pick that approach first? He cursed, was he frustrated? Why? Tool's shortcoming, or the teacher's? On and on..

These are all micro messages that student can absorb like a sponge, if he is standing next to the teacher and watching. This is a very important part of learning, and teaching.

But  obviously, since one has to be there physically, this approach cannot scale, or we want it to scale better. Maybe a new tool can be created to have people transmit their work habits; a combination of self video recording, desktop and keyboard capture, etc. I saw recently a venture capitalist (whose background is in tech) enabled his editor so all his previous drafts for his writings can be seen, along with all mistakes, trials, do-overs. This is nice. It gives people access to his thinking process.