Playing and Learning
You’ve arrived at my Learning blog which started when I began my educational technology doctorate at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. This space captures some of my thoughts and experiences in studying design and the connections of learning with Human Computer Interaction (HCI). A passion of mine in which I have observed significant student learning successes is project-based learning, both in real and virtual social-educational spaces.Technology is an enabler in this domain, a blended multifaceted collection of innovations which allow more meaningful expression, rapid self learning, and movement between knowledge areas (communities of practice) like never before in the history of education.
One significant edtech example of virtual learning is Quest Atlantis. QA is an international learning project from Indiana University headed by Dr. Sasha Barab. In a 3D conceptual play space, elementary students respond to a backstory narrative, navigate an avatar through virtual worlds, undertake challenging tasks and solve problems, while exploring identities in missions and quests based on seven social commitments. In situated learning scenarios, students use technology tools and real world tools in quests involving math, science, art, music, literacy, and character education.
I’ve been joining, managing, or creating Internet and classroom projects for 14 years. The classroom is my lab, a working, playing area where kids learn in social activities using various technologies, and connecting with other kids around the world. The word project to me is a philosophy, a way of being and doing. Establishing a project mode enables students to experience each others knowledge, and to be more conversationally receptive to each other - and let’s not forget the teacher.
A teacher in a project-based classroom has a great job - it’s still school, but not school as usual. The classroom is alive, students like being there, like the surprises, like the challenges and begin to adapt to a looser structure of education, responding in time as better problem solvers and better adapted to working together to discuss dilemmas and solve problems - the kinds of abilities needed in real life.
I intend to investigate these abilities, often referred to as 21st Century Skills - I prefer to use the word competencies instead of skills to focus on the sophisticated behavioral nature rote aspect rather that constrictive skill qualifiers. Far more than skills, we are talking about embodied cognitive behaviors which allow us to learn, socialize/collaborate, solve problems, create, use tools, and to do so with a perspective that embraces a global perspective.
Here is a link to an interview I did with Edutopia on project-based learning.