What Facebook, Rock Band and iPhones have to teach teachers

A few weeks ago I taught a 2 hour workshop entitled “Re-imagining learning” to a group of 20 or so faculty of Governor’s State University. I had been down there before and was invited back, believe it or not.

Yevette Brown, a associate professor of media and director of a group that facilities these kinds of learning ops asked me to inspire their teachers to look at learning in new ways and think about how technology might be a part of that process. In the end, I gave a presentation that combined stuff from the thing I did for the Digital Salon, a demo for maclearning and the recent article for educause. The main premise I worked with is that contemporary medias have a lot to teach us about how people learn and we should investigate them. It is just silly to look down on new things and complain about how “kids these days…” but instead look at why these things are so successful and learn from them. The idea is just a less in-depth expansion on James Gee’s book, “What videogames have to teach us about learning and literacy.”

For example:

  • Social media shows us that people can do amazing things when they have the right tools to connect them, have the potential for a genuine audience/impact on the world and a task worth working for.
  • Video games show us that play makes a fantastic space for identity building, creative problem solving, and new forms of community. Games excel as learning environments because they provide a real experience that is intrinsically valuable and are capable of producing the kinds of learners we really want: systemic problem solvers who aren’t scared to fail.
  • Mobile media is changing the way we do everything because now we have a computer in our pocket all day that knows where it is, what direction it is pointing, can playpack/record/produce A/V, is connected to the internet all while still remaining a personal communications device, connecting us to each other. A new kind of learner is emerging: one that learns on the fly, in the context of doing and out in the real world – leveraging the internet as an extension of their own available knowledge.

The session was received well and was followed by a lively discussion with a few faculty/staff that may start experimenting with our ARIS platform, reading the Engage website and coming to Madison for the GLS conference. My end goal was to realize that teaching is so much more than telling a student what you know, but instead using whatever tools are at your disposal to inspire questioning, curiosity and experimentation in the real world. These are how the fields on knowledge were developed in the first place.

Here are my slides if you care to take a look.

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