Stephen Anderson – From Paths to Sandboxes

Sat in on Karl Fast and Stephen Anderson‘s Design for Understanding workshop at the IA Summit last week, and it was double-plus-good.

Here are Stephen’s slides from his IA Summit presentation.  Excellent stuff relating to autonomy in learning environments, and multitudes more:

5 thoughts on “Stephen Anderson – From Paths to Sandboxes

  1. Thanks for publishing the slides. Very interesting concept, “path” VS. “sandbox.” I would like to see how the sandbox model plays out in various contexts. A part of me goes, “but, but, sometimes you just have to goad the elephant to get it to go down the best path.” I think what educators and designers should strive for is a sandbox with failsafes that help people avoid painting themselves into corners, even it’s done playfully.

    • I know exactly what you mean, Jenny. Sometimes it’s really not optional. Legal requirements often have that, but additionally, brand new learners don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s really difficult to just point them toward a sandbox and hope it all works out. I think some learners find sandboxes unsettling, especially if it’s not what they are used to.

      I’ve been trying to figure where my line is on that, and I think my challenge is letting go of more control, and creating more sandboxes. But that doesn’t mean that I lot of what I design won’t still be paths, and that paths aren’t useful. There’s definitely a trust/control aspect that I’m learning to reconcile…

  2. I love it when I read a blog post just at the right moment. On my desk I have pictures I’ve been drawing that are helping me to understand how I could structure learning for new managers in the context of where I’m working. I take a break from sketching, eat my lunch, read your blog, click on the slides from Stephen Anderson, and realise that what I’m trying to draw is a sandbox full of artifacts, rules and mini-games.
    I’ve also found a couple more books to read from Stephen Anderson.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful presentation. Having been trained as a Montessori teacher years ago, I find myself falling back time and again to her thoughts on learning and the prepared environment. I know from watching so many children grow and learn over the past years what this type of environment provides for the children and the grownups who get to hang out with them. Now, as an instructional designer, I find myself once again revisiting what I learned back then and truly believe that if we give children or grownups the opportunity to learn in meaningful ways for them, the amount of learning is infinite!

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