Over the weekend, a lot of my tweeps were at 21c Learning Hong Kong. If I were going, one of the main reasons I would have done so would have been to see Punya Mishra from MSU. He is a driving force behind TPACK. During Mishra’s keynote, Jabiz tweeted:
We get there through playful process! @punyamishra #21clhk
This immediately reminded me of Messing Around. In their whitepaper, authors boyd, Ito, et al. write the following:
When messing around,
young peopleteachers begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding. [p. 20]
It is important to recognize, however, that this more exploratory mode of messing around is an important space of experimental forms of learning that open up new possibilities and engagements. [p. 23]
we see [messing around] as a necessary part of self-directed exploration in order to experiment with something that might eventually become a longer-term, abiding interest in creative production. One side effect of this exploration is that
youthteachers also learn computer skills they might not have developed otherwise. [p. 25]
(Obviously, the strikethroughs are my edits!)
In my role as technology facilitator, I spend a lot of time with teachers, either in a one-on-one, small group, or workshop setting. While there is an obvious willingness to learn something new, that desire to ‘mess around’ is usually missing from the teachers. There’s a huge list of legitimate reasons why this is the case: lack of time, too much marking, planning, other meetings, to name a few. I get that. But as teachers, we must be willing to the behaviors that we want to see most in our students: curiosity, self-reliance, inquiry, stick-to-it-tiveness. To me, that is what ‘messing around’ is all about.
As teachers, we all have expertise. We know our content areas (Content Knowledge) and have been trained (or have learned on the job!) in teaching pedagogy (Pedagogical Knowledge). Historically, the best teachers have been the ones who lived inside the intersection of those two realms of knowledge.
With the increased pervasiveness, ubiquity and infusion of technology, there is a third realm that defines the best teachers: Technological Knowledge. The TPACK model of technology integration helps teachers think about the intersection of these the knowledge areas when developing and delivering meaningful learning experiences for students. I believe that it is only through ‘messing around’ and discovering new possibilities within the context of one’s own Content and Pedagogical Knowledge can teachers begin to truly harness the transformative power of technology in learning.
How much ‘messing around’ do you do? When do you find the time? What keeps you from doing it more?Image Credits: