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I experiment and I take notes. I do experiment and poke around to find what I need. I guess this reflects the title of my own blog "ExploratoryLearner". After years of this approach, I’ve learned to build on anticipated actions based on other software experiences. However, this occasionally gets me into trouble, as the "norm" or expected action is sometimes not the chosen method in particular software.
Upon reflection, I realize a transition in my teaching style over the past couple years. I have always provided notes with step-by-step instructions for use both during and after the class. For some time now, I've been providing the notes, but my classes are becoming a conversation about teaching and/or the application of technologies to meet (usually educational) objectives. As David Warlick points out, "There is always more than one way to solve the problem and even more aspects of the problem that need to be factored in." Allowing people to work experimentally helps them discover multiple options and through regular use, they will discover good reasons for choosing a different path to achieve what appears to be the same end.
Another opportunity that is often overlooked is the use of technologies to achieve something for which they were not designed. The name of the game is to keep an open mind and see what the technologies can do for you. Be creative!
Britt Watwood suggested that I should post my response to his And On the Seventh Day post in my own blog; so here goes.
My response here constitutes a bit of a F2F conversation with Britt over coffee, but for the sake of the blogger community, I’ll reply. This also counts toward my meager participation in the 31 day challenge. :=)
As I walked to Starbucks with Britt, I started talking about thoughts I was having about the first 7 days of the 31 day challenge. I said that I felt like posting that the 31 day challenge is just that; 31 days of 24/7, non-stop commitment to blogging. The idea promotes the concept that you have to always be monitoring, reading and writing. I also said that since the challenge started just before last weekend and I chose to address a number of other personal time demands in my 1st life (yard, house, church, piping, etc.), that knocked two days out. My days have been busy with work issues and evenings this week have also had other time demands; suddenly I’m feeling stressed and most of 7 days behind. Britt then stopped me and said, “read my recent post”. The point is that Britt has already posted about several of the ideas I’ve been contemplating. I could accuse him of taking my ideas, but that’s not the case. Ideas are in the air. I think that’s why there are so many similar posts. When the time is right, forces present ideas and the first to snag them gets credit. This concept is not a new one. It is a thought that was shared with me by Jewett Campbell (a graduate school instructor), who’s father was an inventor. His father told him that “ideas are in the air”. Essentially, if you make contact with one, act on it quickly.
I’m getting the sense from this networked community that we are all struggling with balance in our lives. And, periodically, we recognize some of the issues raised by Britt in an earlier post as well as thoughts shared by Jeff Nugent about his fishing trip. The metaphor discussed there was the stream and ideas, blogs, twitter, etc. represented information constantly flowing down the stream. Jeff learned during is vacation that it’s OK to dip into the stream and then walk away for a while.
I’ll continue to look for threads of these ideas in other posts as we all begin to figure out our individual rhythm of participation and how to make this experience meaningful without creating unnecessary stress.
Abbie in the Sandbox - Photo adapted from Flickr
Uploaded on August 28, 2007 by COmfH
licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.
Where have I been?
It's been a while since I've posted to this blog. I've been busy: playing. Well, more appropriately, I've been learning about many things, and this "creative play" has re-invigorated my contemplation about learning and helping others learn. Some time ago, Jeff Nugent suggested that learning begins in play and I thank him for his prompt, his shared interest in learning and his support which allows me the opportunities I have each day. Listen to some of my play.
Transferring knowledge gained during play:
The podcast link above is a bit of silliness created on a Macbook Pro, in an audio program called Garageband. The point here is that learning to use a new technology for an ultimately serious business such as education, can be fun. The acquisition of knowledge can be achieved by playing with tools and then transferring the knowledge gained to more meaningful ends. My ultimate goal is to be able to assist faculty in the use of such tools to create audio files and podcasts to meet their educational objectives. I also plan to work with my colleagues, Jeff Nugent and Britt Watwood to create informative podcasts and provide additional resources for our faculty.
Consider the following strategies for overcoming barriers to learning new technologies:
- Find and take time to explore something new to you: commit to no more than 15 minutes each day (you just might get inspired to keep working)
- Play - Have fun
- Learn in short, but regular segments (scaffolding)
- Eliminate risk – Don’t set out to create a masterpiece - experiment in a "sandbox" environment
- Ask questions: what will happen if I …?
- Take advantage of many free resources and people who are willing to help via the web
- Don’t be afraid to “break” anything
- Experiment with the intent to learn from failure as well as success
- Share your successes and failures with others
- Seek advice from others who have experimented with the technology or application you are learning
- Transfer learning from your personal fun experiments and projects to your professional work
I plan to study and share more of what I learn about the notion of learning through play, but right now, I want you to just go have some fun!