Photo by Andrew Dunn, Large Reclining Figure, Henry Moore, 1982 / CC BY-SA 2.0

In this third of four vodcasts, Brad Haseman, Executive Vice President of Kadenze, Inc. discusses the distinctive effects arts-led learning is having on online learning design. Here he introduces the Emergence, Coherence, and Artistic Redundancy effects. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

This third vodcast introduces three of the effects which artists and arts educators bring to processes of learning online. Henry Moore, one of the most significant British artists of the twentieth century, perfectly captures the first two effects in this description of his working process:

“I sometimes begin a drawing with no preconceived problem to solve … But as my mind takes in what is so produced a point arrives where some idea becomes conscious and crystallises, and then control and ordering begins to take place.”

The Emergence and Coherence Effects

Here then is a key artistic tension between the emergence effect (‘no preconceived problem to solve’) and the coherence effect (‘idea becomes conscious and crystallises’). Artists relish this tension, valuing it as entirely productive, despite all its frustrations, false starts and dead ends. For in their quest to realize coherence amid the impulses of emergence, artists experience sensuous cognition at its fullest; where the hand and body work with the imagination, complex judgement, advanced reasoning, and emotional intelligence to generate… creativity!

Do any of these terms sound familiar? Of course; they are the mantra phrases of contemporary educators determined to promote STEM and the complimentary human capital needed for a successful twenty-first century. Human capital matures over the time spent struggling with the complexities and ambiguities that necessarily accompany the emergence and coherence effects, while resilient human capital comes from Arts engagement and turns STEM into STEAM.

Instead, in stark contrast, somewhat unimaginatively and definitely unambitiously, many online learning designers are taught that it is by working in ‘sub-skills’, with secure ‘standards mastery’, and learning sequences which don’t tax our 10-15 second working memories that will ensure ‘defined proficiency’, to apparently guarantee a successful twenty-first century!

The Artistic Redundancy Effect

Before accounting for the effects which flow from artistic redundancy, we first need to consider the Redundancy Principle, which is well-known across online learning design.

This aims to maximise learning by reducing the extraneous demands placed on learners as they process information on the screen. For instance, it argues that adding text over audio and visual presentations may impede learning and is therefore redundant and unnecessary. It advocates that learning is best presented and stripped back to 3-7 minute chunks which match the attention span of most humans.

Artistic redundancy points to an alternative approach. It draws from Information Theory where redundancy refers to effects which deliberately seek to produce ‘a surplus of signal over message’. So rather than instructors eliminating what is deemed superfluous (and reducing a signal to the message alone), artistic redundancy seeks to judiciously, and often playfully, use communication techniques which add to the strength of the communication act.

Perhaps ‘unnecessary’ communicative flashes are included, but such instances of artistic redundancy deepen the humanness of the communication, potentially pique curiosity, and intensify learner motivation. And what are these communication techniques? Well, you’ll need to watch the vodcast…and that instruction is an example of artistic redundancy right there!

Learn more about the emergence, coherence, and artistic redundancy effects in the video below.