Tool Geek? No, Learning Geek….

A recent chat with @snbeach, @baldy7, @datruss and Rob from NH on a PLP info session has me thinking. I mentioned that I got “into all this” (never sure how to categorize these huge shifts in thinking and learning anymore) because I loved playing with “tools.”

Tony said that wasn’t the case for him. But I wonder how many are more like me?

I remember the first time I put my hands on a computer. I was taking a re-certification in 1985 to teach high school again after taking off a few years with my children. A local college offered a class in Basic programming, so I signed up without fully understanding what I was getting into.

Actually, I had never touched a computer, and I was an English major (fully avoiding math and science whenever possible).

Three weeks later, I remember the frustration, the uncertainty, and the exhaustion I felt, trying to use the left side of by brain to logically determine what a loop was and how to write a simple piece of code. On my own for the most part, there was no hand-holding in this course.

Uploaded on May 21, 2009 by Temari 09

By the time I finished,  though, I had learned to write a short grading program that worked.

And I felt a sense of accomplishment.

That one step took me to the next: buying my own computer, figuring out how to manage DOS and Windows apps, and  installing peripherals. I was having so much fun figuring it all out and learning something new, totally in the flow.

And then something amazing happened. I was given a Mac to use in my journalism class, the first computer to be used in the county for any instruction. I began to see the power of turning kids loose and taking control of their own learning. One boy learned Illustrator and shared it with the class; another became a graphics design expert and landed an after-school job. Many began finding other strengths in writing, publishing, and advertising.

In a few short years, I was online in a text-based web, texting with someone from Europe, who jumped onto my screen. The possibilities for my classroom were rumbling around in my head. By 2000, I was back in school in a M.Ed program in Instructional Tech. In 2004, I started blogging (first trying to install Manilla on our school server); then I discovered Twitter in 2007, and my world shifted.

Isn’t this what we want for our students today? To want to work through problems, concepts, or issues? To be curious enough to see how things work? To create?

My circuitous path led me to new ways of thinking about how my students learn and what I want schools to “look like” (if, indeed, we need to have schools at all). It all started with an interest in figuring out a tool, but it’s moved to how these tools–or now these online social technologies–change the way we live in this networked world.

What has changed your thinking? How can our interactions with each other and the tools make meaningful change in the life of our students?

Uploaded on January 16, 2008
by seeks2dream