Chapter 7: Knowing, Making, and Playing
“A lifelong ability to learn has given human beings all kinds of evolutionary advantages over other animals...homo sapiens, homo faber, and homo ludens—or humans who know, humans who make (things), and humans who play”
By explaining that play has given humans an “evolutionary advantage,” Thomas and Brown validate play as more than meaningless activity done by children and recreational breaks taken by adults. It also leads the reader to believe that play can lead to success.
“Whatever one accomplishes through play, the activity is never about achieving a particular goal, even if a game has a defined endpoint or end state. It is always about finding the next challenge or becoming more fully immersed in the state of play.”
What types of challenges should educators create? Is gamification and badging enough?
“In a world where images, text, and meaning can be manipulated for nearly any purpose, an awareness of the play of context and the ability to reshape it become incredibly important parts of decision making.”
In my previous MA program, I explored research transliteracy. At the time, the term was being used among librarians and focused on helping students comprehend multiple forms of media, such as videos, websites, and audio files. It was an appropriate issue to discuss at the time, but the term transliteracy has now been replaced with digital literacy. Thomas and Brown extend upon the concept of literacy by explaining that students need to be able to do more than comprehended digital media-they need to be able to communicate using these mediums.
“Learning content through making is a very different exercise from learning through shaping context.”
Making resonates more than shaping content. Consider the questions “What did you make today?” Followed by, “What did you learn while making that?” These are much different than a simple, “What did you learn today?”
Chapter 8: Hanging Around, Messing Around, and Geeking Out
“Geeking out provides an experiential, embodied sense of learning within a rich social context of peer interaction, feedback, and knowledge construction enabled by a technological infrastructure that promotes “intense, autonomous, interest driven” learning.”
When people “geek out,” they become the “lifelong learners” educators have been striving to create for the past few decades. The social connections, tools, and access to information provided by technology enable learners to “geek out.”
“In essence, hanging out is a social, not merely technological, activity. It is about developing a social identity.”
Our students are already building these identities, but so many educators just look the other way. How can create and encourage hanging out experiences for adults? Is Facebook enough?
“Experimenting with the familiar in terms of content and tools is apt to open up a gap between this first unfocused form of play and the potential that emerges because of it. The gap is between the way something could be—what a person begins to imagine she can accomplish—and the way it is.”
“I have an idea. Hang on.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a surprise. Let me go try to make it. BRB”
This conversation regularly occurs between my cohort mate Jake Bowker (@jbowker88) and I. We often share tools and discuss our learning, but sometimes he just completely disappears to immerse himself in play. He will spend hours teaching himself how to use tools he already knows and/or discovering new tools needed to create his project. Often, his vision of “way something could be” ends up evolving along the way as it is shaped by the learning that occurs as through play. This play leads to an increase his learning and the quality of his product.
“Ito and her team constructed a typology of practices to describe the way young people participate with new media: hanging out, messing around, and geeking out. We believe that these three practices could frame a progression of learning that is endemic to digital networks.”
Okay, Jeff! Of course, as soon I read the title to this chapter, I could hear Jeff Heil’s (@jehil5) proud chuckle. The three badges we are earning in this class are named after these three practices. Additionally prior to any exposure to this text, I already used the term “geeking out” in a way that aligned with this meaning. I often say that I “geek out” when I spend hours on my laptop building an invented project. Lately my “geekiness” has been enhanced as I share and collaborate with my peers.
Chapter 9: The New Culture of Learning for a World of Constant Change
“And where imaginations play, learning happens.”
In preschools, imaginative play is a part of the daily routine and integrated into many lessons. As a result, the young children in these environments spend their days immersed in learning and chose to engage in imaginative play during free time, such as playground time. This applies to the students in our classrooms and people in general. The best way to encourage learning is to provide opportunities for students’ to play.
“Only when we care about experimentation, play, and questions more than efficiency, outcomes, and answers do we have a space that is truly open to the imagination.”
Why do all of the academic examples focus on colleges and universities? Are primary and secondary institutions really that far off? What about schools like High Tech High?
“The team relies on everyone to understand that their success as individuals creates something that amounts to more than the sum of its parts.”
In my roles as ASB adviser, yearbook adviser, and volleyball coach, I support teams of students as they work together to create or accomplish something that is greater than what any individual student--or I-- could produce. Even with all of this experiences, it is still challenging to provide similar learning opportunities in classroom lessons.
“Maybe members of the new collective will provide an existing piece of information that makes the problem solvable. Or maybe they will inspire a player to find a new, unique solution to the problem and share it with the collective in turn.”
This is why we need more people in the edtech community! Currently many vocal and visible leaders, or “educelebrities,” exist among this group, but many questions and challenges still exist. By bringing new educators into the conversation, we may be able to find “unique solutions” that will benefit all of our students.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky.: [CreateSpace?].
7/29/2015 04:58:04 pm
I like your question from chapter 7 and I would say gamification and badges aren't enough. Every student will be motivated by different things. Therefore, there really isn't one way to create that challenge. For me the achievable challenge that is so perfectly orchestrated in games makes me hungry to work insistently until I have accomplished my goal. In contrast I have many friends, many of which are girls now that I think about it, who could care less. There's no competition or achievement in the world that makes them tick. Badges are something that I'm not quite sure simulate the same reaction that games facilitate. I think perhaps because they don't really mean anything. Maybe that's just me though. Like I said it's different for everyone. That's what makes it interesting ;-)
8/1/2015 05:10:27 am
Your quote from chapter 9 made me laugh a little. As a mom of almost 2nd graders I remember several years back the big talk about preschool was attending a play based preschool or an academic based preschool. So many parents had very strong opinions on both sides. Yet, once students hit grade school the play talk goes away. Why is it okay for just preschoolers to be okay to play but not a 2nd grader? The motive for learning- inquiry or playing should be the same! Anyway- off my soapbox. I also understand the need to push students academically I just don't understand why play has been thrown out of learning in previous years. Let them play!!!
8/1/2015 02:39:58 pm
I feel like I have found my soulmates in this class (academically speaking). I never really called it "geeking out", but I have always loved technology and learning from others new ways to use it and create with technology. Many of my colleagues have resisted and kinda roll their eyes at me when I get excited about some new found use for technology. My oldest son was my biggest inspiration and many times introduced me to new things, but since he has been gone to college this class has filled that void. I can't wait for the new school year to begin so I can share some of the cool new things I have learned. I don't care who rolls their eyes, my enthusiasm will be contagious!
8/4/2015 09:44:08 am
Polly, I feel the same way! People keep telling me "wow working full time and getting a masters, that must be brutal" and I always respond with how excited I am to be connected to other educators who care about the same things I do. I too have colleagues uninterested/unenthused with the idea of technology in the classroom and don't share my same passion. I love being constantly a part of the greater conversation.
8/2/2015 02:46:04 am
Natalie I liked the way you brought in the idea of preschoolers learning all day through playing. I have always enjoyed working with younger student and like how their brain acts like a sponge and how they are able to learn so much and most of it comes from them playing with each other and the different things around them. This shows that maybe if we kept the idea of play alive as they grow older maybe they will still be able to have their brain act as a sponge in the classroom. Thanks for sharing.
Wow! I love your epiphany re asking students, "What did you make today?" and "What did you learn while making that?" I also appreciated your question regarding whether there are academic examples of primary and secondary educators acting with this "play" mindset. Wow! Do you believe there are any subjects that require students to learn something that they may not be organically interested in? For example, many of us in this cohort are experiencing what it is like to use play to learn new tools, apps, etc. in technology. I would also argue that we are all electively choosing to be in this MA program, too. What happens when students are not intrinsically motivated to learn in a subject? How does the notion of play help children master material when they do not perceive learning the material as "play?" I am thinking of struggling readers, writers or spellers who are frustrated in these areas as 7-year-olds...I hope Thomas and Seely Brown address these circumstances in their next book. Awesome posts!
8/3/2015 10:42:58 am
I liked how you tied in what is happening in our EDL 680 class and Jeff creating our three badges around the three topics in the chapter. I love to geek out but mainly when I am talking about a comic book hero or video game strategy but I guess it applies to nerding out online with computers.
8/4/2015 09:48:05 am
Leave a Reply.
A collection of my learning from SDSU EDL 680 Seminar in Personalized Learning