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Tinkering with Technology

I was reading a blog post by David Warlick in which he was reflecting on ISTE 2010. One thing that caught my eye (and my wife’s, who was reading over my shoulder) was the following statement:

There was talk about learning by tinkering, and that most of us, in the group, agreed that we developed our technology skills by tinkering.  The problem is that the nature of tinkering is not very “schooly.”

I discussed this a bit with my wife (not a teacher) and we both agreed on how true this is. I learnt most of what I know about computers and other technology by playing – trying things out and seeing what happens. (I use the term ‘playing’ rather than ‘tinkering’ but tinkering is a little clearer in this situation).

What I have learnt over the years is that it is actually quite difficult to break technology (the software at least). 9 times out of 10 you can undo in some way what you have done if something goes wrong. Actually this is probably more like 9.99 times out of 10.

As someone who has been training other teachers/colleagues about using different ICT tools, the one thing I often say is ‘have a play, you cannot break it’. While this statement may not be 100% true, the chances of something (whether it be software or hardware) breaking is very very slim.

We need to be encouraging our teachers and students (and our own children) to not be afraid to try things out. Play with technology. See what it does.

Imagine what we would be living without today if people didn’t tinker or play. BTW play is a very important aspect in learning at young ages, and I’m quite sure it is still as important as you get older. The difference is that people have decided that as we get older we need to work not play. Perhaps we need to become a little more child-like and play without worrying too much about the consequences. We’ll probably discover things that we didn’t know this technology could do!

So – Go and have a play!

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