Monday, 17 January 2005

Soundseeing to Sightseeing: Good or Not?

AMY GAHRAN of Contentious is doing an experiment:

She asked:

... about soundseeing expeditions – which are audio recordings made in the field which capture the ambient sounds and the creator’s descriptions. Soundseeing sets a context intended to create a vivid picture in the listener’s mind.

How crucial is that mental picture to the soundseeing experience?

This echoes well with my earlier post Learning Context: Do we need to render it?, our mind fills in the missing details from our past experience.

So I went ahead and listened to the soundseeing. This is my imagined scene (briefly):
I heard the wood cracking sound from the wood fire. I imaged a room in reddish colour, Amy lying cosily in some soft fabric in front of the wood fire and typing away. I did not pay much attention to her description of the car junk yard - there is no ambient sound to support that!

My reaction to Amy's invitation is that I would rather have not seen the photographs. With the exception of the one where Amy was typing away on her bed, most of the photos do not depict the image I have formed from the soundsighting. When rendered, it totally destroyed my mental image.

Again, rendering the learning context is not a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter to do with the purpose. If this is a designed experience for learners and if we like to promote imagination and get the learners to focus on the important issues (except when the issue is visual!), rendered environment may not help.

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