A Critical Analysis of How Nelly Works
The learning opportunities provided by Nelly really work as a result of a number of different aspects of the design – the learning is motivating, activates memory in appropriate ways, provides incentives and feedback for the learning, provokes curiosity and provides rewards that cannot be anticipated.
Since each of these aspects contributes to the effectiveness of the learning, we will consider each in turn. We will do this by referring to research that shows how we learn best and will compare this to the way that Nelly works to show why this is an effective tool for learning.
Learning and Memory
One explanation for how Nelly works is that it is extremely effective in working with the way that our brains learn and remember. In order to show why this is the case, we have to consider the evolutionary origins of learning and memory. Learning evolved because species need to be able to adapt to new situations in order to survive. Consider, for instance, what would have been required as animals which had evolved on the warm savannah had to adapt to the conditions created by an ice age. There would be a need for different survival strategies to keep warm and find food. Learning what worked in these situations would have allowed some species to survive while others died out – survival of the fittest. Learning mechanisms are crucial here because it is important to be able to repeat strategies that worked.
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