Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lazy Learning

I’ve personally had rather a  sad week this week. I’m a teacher who puts a lot of emotional energy into my work. An advisor once said I was a charismatic teacher – it wasn’t meant to be wholly complimentary. He meant that I over-relied on who I am and not enough on planning. From his perspective he was right, but I’ve always felt you can’t pretend to be something you're not and have tried over the years to make my “style” work for me and my students' learning.
Without realising it, or meaning them to, my plans for this week slipped into the side-lines. I was intending to re-focus students on collaborating better on their stories.  However,  getting teams of unco-operative students working together requires  enthusiasm, persuasion and cajoling - things that need effort and an energy I just haven’t got at the moment. But, as so often, I learned quite a lot from my students this week, just by looking and listening more than I had intended.
I was keen to show my students the fourth chapter of my transmedia story “Who am I” – partly because I wanted some feedback, and partly because there were a couple of relevant points I wanted to draw out from my own learning about creativity. The chapter had originally been envisaged as being about a mysterious noticeboard but, because of the research I had done, became instead a whiteboard. The whiteboard commands the reader to “click here” and is hyperlinked to the site “How Secure is my Password?” where the reader can test out the passwords the protagonist creates. I was pleased with this because, for the first time, it introduces an external site into the story.  I wasn’t surprised they liked it – it’s a simple and fun way to check your password’s strength.  What surprised me was to notice that the vast majority were “having a go on it”, rather what they were supposed to be doing.  But I went with the flow and noticed students experimenting, talking, visiting other friends to show them things.  In short: collaborating - the very thing I thought they found a problem.   By the end of the day my lessons were designed to encourage and support this.
But the question still remains: what exactly does this simple app have that their “proper” project work doesn’t?