Occasionally we educators (and parents, too) participate in a learning experience that requires us to struggle for understanding and work hard to figure out what’s happening. Young learners go through this situation day after day in their school lives, even in the most wonderful classrooms. Adults not so much.
I’m in the middle of a challenging learning experience right now. This week the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute (CMK14) requires me to stretch. I’m expected to learn new things, figure out problems, and use all sorts of materials to invent, explore, and, yes, construct new ideas and information. Sometimes the work is heavy with digital materials and sometimes we use resources that have little to do with technology. It’s all about ideas and self-directed learning. No one tells me what to do or what to choose, but plenty of people are around to help me once I’m engaged with a task.
At my school I am a technology faculty member, and I know quite a bit about technology tools and learning. On CMK14 day one, however, as I watched people effortlessly coming up with ideas and getting started, I felt like a deer in the headlights, trying to duck out of sight as much as possible. Why on earth did I signed up to participate in four strenuous days of unfamiliar work?
Many of the people attending this professional development conference are way more experienced than I am, and these folks are literally constructing and inventing things right in front of my eyes.
Now, after day two, I am increasingly excited about encountering so much new information, seeing what’s possible, figuring out how to make the best use of my time, and reminding myself just how much I have to learn. So far I’ve learned more about MIT Scratch, I’ve played with Makey Makey devices, and I’ve made (sewing) a bookmark with tiny a tiny Lily Pad LED (light emitting diode) that lights up with two conductive thread circuits and a battery. It took me a considerable amount of time to figure out some of these tasks, and some were embarrassingly easy compared to what many others were doing, but I am learning a lot.
Tomorrow I’ll learn more Scratch and learn about arduino projects. Oh, I’m also planning to add another circuit to my bookmark.