Occasional Thoughts on Educational Technology and Life by Judy Brophy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Case for Learning Something Entirely Different

Image by Matthew Ragan
I bumped into a listing of 9 new tools for creating music online recently. I am no musician and don’t teach or create music, but the tools tempted me. What fun it would be to try out some of those tools and see what I could create.  

Why don’t we do more exploring into areas that we don’t know?

As a technology facilitator to faculty I have noticed that most people, teachers and student, (and I include myself here) want to go only where they have gone before, perfect something rather than try something entirely new.  When was the last time you tried something entirely new?
I can hear the arguments in my own head
  •        Well, it wouldn’t be any good.
  •        It wouldn’t be professional looking
  •       It would be too difficult
  •      All I would learn is that I can’t do it

But we would be missing something. We would be missing the adventure and the joy of figuring out a puzzle with only our wits, and the combined wisdom of the group to help us.
You might not learn to create a passable piece of music using the new tools, but you might learn:
  •   How you attack a problem you haven’t seen before
  •  How others do it (and could I do that?)
  •  Where the edge of your comfort zone is for not knowing what you’re doing
  •  When confronted with something new, what is your preferred way to learn? Ask a friend, find a book, google it?

Image by Matthew Ragan
When was the last time you and your class had a learning adventure? An activity which you didn’t know how it would turn out? That had not been carefully planned and constructed and all the possible hard spots and bumps removed? When did you learn something together?

I think I’ll try some of those tools... or maybe some Morris Dancing.

1 comment:

  1. "The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke

    I think it can be discouraging to try new things... it's comfortable to stay inside of the domain of what you know. I can certainly see the appeal of only doing what you do best, and nothing else. One of the great lessons circus has taught me is that humility is always waiting for us at every turn. Today's beauty and grace is tomorrows fall and fumble.

    If you don't keep exploring, keep pushing, you end up missing out on the best parts of the woods. Maybe that's why this lifehacker post appeals to me so much... it's a call to be brave, a call to use the skills you have, it reminds me that the forest is better because of my song.