What if? I have come to use this term very often in my ‘wonderments’ within a classroom and school setting. I love the sparks that fly when ideas are bounced around and learning takes on a cohesive yet personalised direction. Have you ever watched children solve their own problems? It is fascinating to watch and with the right intervention ‘building bridges’ can be a very rewarding and collaborative activity. I think we all function with a ‘What if?’ build inside us; an innate desire to learn to unravel and unpack ideas to make meaning of the world around us. Learning becomes ‘intentional and contextualised’ as we try to construct a ‘knowledge building’ community around us (Jonassen 2003).
Of course, those of us who are analysing the pedagogical aspect of the learning, especially through the aide of technological tools, have to ask ourself the question, have we replaced ‘curiosity’ and ‘innovation’ with the phrase-‘find it on the web’. Have we replaced the ability to solve problems with the ‘magic Bullet’-technology? I guess as reflective educators of the Knowledge society, we are all asking these questions of ourselves; after all that is what makes us reflective practitioners. I take the liberty to step into the metaphorical classroom and look at my own didactic usage of ‘tools’ and technology.
I have transitioned over from the hospitality arena and as I date myself, I acknowledge that I come from the Lotus 123 era. My projects took hours as a management trainee and I spent nights redoing report because iI had made a mistake in the formula. My delight knows no bounds now because I have tools like Picktochart Excel and Numbers. However, my knowledge base is more sophisticated and I have evaluative measures for the quality of work I produce. Do I apply this same principle when I run a project with High School students for innovative business models using design tools or storytelling with first graders? It would be good to revisit some of them and ask if the knowledge was transferable to their life in a third world setting.
There is a resonance in Gilbert’s (2007) article, where he purports that learning and knowledge in the Knowledge Society are closely linked with innovation, change and quality as opposed to the mental models of the Industrial Age. Not that there was a lack of capacity building learning models then but with the onset of the network society (Castells 2000) knowledge acquisition and application of it is fast paced and instantaneous. How we store it, both in our minds and on our tools reflects how we manage it. As an ardent fan of game based learning models and educational games ( both programming based and HTML), I delight in watching new literacy knowledge and connections being developed through games that are autodidactic. Chee & Tan (2012) use Alkhimia to build chemistry knowledge through levels of inquiry and problem solving build into the game. However, ( yes, the quintessential pause before the point is made!) I am hesitant to get excited about ‘learning through a website’. Where is the excitement of discovery and creation in that? Yes, I have been waiting all along to say this( contextualising?); my personal favourite at the moment are Twine and Scratch. Both are capacity building tools with the ability to create and explore the nuances of the English language from entirely different perspectives.
Some personal musings at this point are essential; am I enabling innovation alongside of the change? Is it manageable and can I measure it? I look to you as my peers to help me bring some coherence to these thoughts.
Chee, Y. S., & Tan, D. K. C. (2012). Becoming Chemists through Game-based inquiry learning: the case of legends of Alkhimia.
Gilbert, J. (2007). Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age.Educational Research Policy and Practice, 6(115-122)
Jonassen, D. H. (2003). Learning to Solve Problems with Technology, Chapter 1, Upper Saddle River, Merrill-Prentice Hall
Resta, P. (2011). ICTs and Indigenous People. Moscow, Russia: UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.
Wright, N. (2010). e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review. Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Education.