Learning by Doing

Jon Udell writes about discovering an unanticipated benefit of screencasting (in his case, recording an elaborate route on a map):

… the most valuable part of this process might not be the use of the final output, but rather the act of producing it.

This hit on something i’ve been mulling over about electronic Bible study and the learning process. Back in the day, i led inductive manuscript studies with InterVarsity. We’d go away for a while and spend a long time marking up a wide-margin paper copy of the Scriptures with lots of colored marking pens. There was no “right” way to mark them: but the process of highlighting themes, connecting thoughts, outlining bits of grammar, looking up Old Testament references, etc. (and doing it in color, on paper) got us engaged with the text in wonderful ways far beyond passively listening to lectures.
Fast-forward 25 years to the present, where our software already knows connections between hundreds of resources at the level of words, references, topics, etc. It provides an enormous pool of information, but also tends to short-circuit the “hands on” process of exploration that made manuscript study engaging. How do we provide the benefits of personally exploring and organizing the material, without losing the benefits of all the other organization that’s now available?

One thought on “Learning by Doing”

  1. Hi Sean,

    I hear exactly what you are saying!
    I’ve been reading Bill Mounce’s book “Learning Greek for the rest of us” recently. A lot of the book he devotes to something called ‘Phrasing’ where he takes a bible passage and breaks it down into smaller chunks so they are easier for simple human beings like all of us to understand. He said, he started off by photocopying the bible passage and literally cutting up the text into phrases. He the got into using computers and found he could do it all much faster. However he also realised that slowing down is actually an advantage in bible study. It sounds like he now actually writes out the phrases, the slowest of them all but also allowing the most room for contemplation and understanding.

    – James

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