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?].