Y’know What’s Cool?

PechaKucha.

In a PechaKucha presentation, there are rules. Twenty images, twenty seconds each. No text. What a neat way to share stories, right? There’s something really intimate about these presentations. I feel like I’m in a stranger’s living room, on their comfiest couch, having tea and looking in on a slice of

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life. Someone’s REAL life…not the Hollywood crazy housewives of New York or whatever. It’s voyeuristic, but not in a creepy or overdone way. It’s honest and at times really heartfelt.

 

Now that’s just good clean fun, eh? 😉

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Oh Good. There’s a School For That

No one teaches us social or emotional intelligence. And no one really talks about it. Okay, my next comment is kind of geographical, so you may need to be Canadian to understand. Picture this:

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Two guys in toques pass under a rack of antlers to go into a bar. One turns to the
other and says, “So, did you get your mindfulness meditation in today?”

The other sits down, pulls off his lumberjack sweater and says, “No man, I did yoga today instead.”

 

Uhmm….no.

In the UK, there is a place called the School of Life where folks can learn about things like, how to be in a relationship, or the importance of friendship, for example. This is really important stuff! These are the kinds of soft skills that get us through life and make us better humans. If we could make social and emotional intelligence courses mandatory as part of first year English say, the learning from that could make our society more tolerant, happier, and connected.

No?

Sorry Not Sorry…

…saying “Web 2.0” isn’t cool. Picture this. You’re filling your reusable water bottle at office cooler. Two colleagues walk in and you overhear one say to the other,”Oh, that’s a great WEB 2.0 tool, Johnny.” You’re confused, right? You cringe a little because the term “Web 2.0” went out with the late 90’s. No? Aren’t we all going to spin class so we can stay young and NOT walk around with old terminology on our tongues?

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I’ve noticed the term is thrown around like chalk stubs amongst aged faculty members in smoking jackets reminiscing about the time they challenged Deep Blue or whatever. UGH. Since my goal in life is to be the coolest old person EVER, I’m still suspicious of the term and feel uncool when I use it myself.

 

HowEVER, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a lifelong student is that you should always check your assumptions. So I did. Check out this super-illuminating video about what Web 2.0 actually means.

So…what do you think? Is the term legit? I’d love it if you’d share.

 

Get Yer Game on, Teach

 

Warning: thdifferent-nationalities-1743400_640is post is long, but it’s worth the read. Trust me…muwahahahah.

There are two camps of students. Those under perceived pressure to be perfect and those who eke their way through perceived mandatory drudgery. I use the word ‘perceive’ in italics because it doesn’t have to be that way: there is a third camp i.e., glamp, that life is like a game. (Bowen, 2012) asserts in chapter four that, “Empirical evidence confirms that the combination of high expectations and low stakes (exactly the conditions of a good video game) matter for learning” (Bowen, 2012, p 93). Fact: gamification + school = learning and maybe even deep learning (K. Bain, 2004; K. (University of the D. of C. Bain, 2012).

The idea that gamification promotes deep learning is not new. More than twenty years ago Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said as much in his book Flow, “The more a job inherently resembles a game – with variety, appropriate challenges, clear goals, and immediate feedback –
the more enjoyable it will be regardless of the worker’s level of development (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990 p. 152).” Csikszenmihalyi was talking about work, but the same concepts apply to students in their chosen programs.

(Bowen, 2012) says that college should be like a video game (p 75). This statement took me back to my teens. Back to a time where if I wanted to hang out with my boyfriend, I had to watch him play endless hours of Pong. BOOOO-RING. Sure, that was the 80’s and sure, totally different situation, but my initial reaction to this reading was that video games are not a learning tool. I’m old; I can’t relate to video games. Bah-humbug.

Okay, so, having said that one thing the years have taught me is that bah-humbug is not a place to live. So I dug deep, kept reading, and realized that I have a narrow-minded view of gamification. Turns out it’s already how I live my life. I belong to the third camp: I’m a glamper!
Prospective students often picture a student life plagued by squeaky blackboards and rows of those awful plastic chairs and, “when we feel we are investing attention in a task against our will, it is as if our psychic energy is being wasted” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990, p 160). Students won’t continue invest in something they don’t enjoy or feel forced to sit through.

So, I shook the humbug and realized that games help students learn. Why? Because in a game, they are willing participants in their own process. Concepts are taken into individual contexts and students put their own stamp on learning they alone create. “Picking a textbook and a list of topics was never a learning strategy, and ignoring that the world has changed will not impress your students.” (Bowen, 2012 p 126). The implications of bah-humbug are that nobody wins. At the end of the day, I value my students. I value their time, and I value where they are at. So to that, I humbly say: let the games begin.
So, I’ve decided to incorporate games into my work. So what? So, I feel lost in terms of where to start, but (Bowen, 2012) shares a ton of resources in chapters 5-8. I’m not a traditional teacher in front of students every day and the work I do is outreach-based. I think a place to start is to do some research around digital tools that can teach the basics better than I can. I will think about how to incorporate game-like elements such as play, challenge, rules, interactivity, inconsequential failure, feedback, and emotion (Bowen, 2012; Kapp, 2012) into my group sessions. I won’t be afraid to try things or ask students what works for them. I will experiment and practice. I will find ways to create and deliver content digitally without compromising authenticity and functionality. The options truly are endless. So what? So, the bah-humbug can’t stop me from getting my game on.

 

References

Alexas_Fotos. (2016). Different_Nationalities_Children. Image, Pixabay. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/different-nationalities-children-1743400/

Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press.

Bain, K. (University of the D. of C. (2012). What the Best College Students Do. Creative Non-Fiction, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from http://www.bestteachersinstitute.org/kenbain.html

Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and … – Karl M. Kapp – Google Books. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=M2Rb9ZtFxccC&oi=fnd&pg=PR12&dq=does+gamification+improve+learning%3F&ots=JwOh54aH7K&sig=ch-2EW5crP-aWTNuqfUeBJKhq-o#v=onepage&q=does gamification improve learning%3F&f=false

 

 

Be A Zero

Have you ever been to space?
I have.
Okay, that’s a lie.

Even though I haven’t been to space, I have learned a lot from astronauts. Well okay, that’s a lie. I learned one very important thing from one super-cool Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield said that whe4YahBXk68P-2never you’re starting a new job, “be a zero.” I’m paraphrasing here, but his advice is to try not to contribute much until you have your head around what the team is trying to accomplish. There is a lot of wisdom here. I am currently imbibing this wisdom with every pore while I navigate space (a.k.a. my new job).

Picture this:
You’re in a new environment. Maybe they gave you a fancy office. You’re used to being busy. You know the answer when you’re asked a question. You’re confident when you make decisions and take on projects. You get tons of positive feedback. Over the years your head has grown as big as an astronaut bubble head. You go into a new gig thinking you’re some kind of visionary spacewalker, but guess what? You’re SOOOOO not. Take a breather. It’s going to take a year before you can even think about super-spacewalker status again.

My advice? Listen to your new team. Don’t try to contribute too much at meetings. LISTEN! Did I say that again? It’s because you weren’t listening. This in itself is one of the most difficult yet most useful strategies. Ask a zillion questions. Get your head around the shared vision and get a sense of what the team is trying to accomplish. Then and only then, humbly make your contributions from a place of understanding. 😉

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Transitions Can Be Fun

Transitions are fun when you think about them from the safety of your current safe-zone siac50d856cbb58aebd1b1cd4c071bf5f7.jpgtuation. You know, like when you think about all the things you don’t like about your current situation and think, wow. Good thing I can transition the heck outta here. When you don’t actually face the icky things and just think about escape pods all day, you can neglect to consider the things you do like. And when I say consider, I mean enjoy. You can neglect to enjoy the good things that happen. Yep. I guarantee you there are definitely some good things too. Look. There. It’s the coworker that know’s your Starbucks order. Or I dunno, the fact that you always get Sundays off. Your good thing is there. I promise.

And…when all you think about is escape pods and mysterious sink holes that lead to Palm Springs or whatever, you’re not actually enjoying this sometimes arduous, often more arduous in your head, fantastic journey you’re on called life. 😉

 

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Transitions Are Hard Part 2

Yup. So, I said in an earlier post. I’m going to name this the, Transitions Are Hard series.

One of the main focuses of my new job is to help students from Aboriginal Communities transition to post-secondary. So, I’m grateful for this reminder about how difficult transitions are.

Disclaimer: I have it easy as far as new jobs go. I’m working with a team I’ve known for a long time, we’re doing things that are just a side step away from what I was doing before…so why does it still feel so weird?Change_860x440

I’m letting go of the old. New space, new projects (alone), new schedule, new opportunities. While all that is good, I’m mourning the loss of the old stuff too. It’s like I’m in a white room. There are decorations all around me and I can put them up wherever I want to make the place feel homey. I might try a few things and then re-arrange what I’ve done.

Yup. It’s weird. And that’s okay. And everything’s going to feel weird for a while. And guess what? That’s okay too. 😉

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Transitions Are Hard

We all face transitions in life, do we not?

I am in transition at work right now. Whenever new opportunities present themselves, I find it really difficult to sniff my nose up at them. Instead, I jump all over them like a hyperactive kid on a trampoline for the first time.

What inevitably happens to hyperactive trampoline kids? They usually shake themselves up so much they feel kind of sick post-jump session. That’s sort of where I am now. I’m moving away from comfort and all the clout I’ve earned. I’m humbly taking my first steps into the unknown and starting afresh.

Pre-trampoline, new opportunity sounds awesome and exciting, which is why we take these leaps of faith in the first place. It’s easy to forget just how painful letting go of what is is. And then ah…I remember once again.

I’ll let you know if I survive. 🙂

In the meantime, this video always makes me feel like everything is going to be okay:

Education Matters

Does it? Something I ponder daily is the question of what school is for. As a university recruiter, it’s a question I’m faced with all the time. When I try to answer it I feel I’ve done the asker a disservice. Why? Because it’s a question best answered by the asker. This past summer I created a course called Education Matters as part of the Provincial Instructor Diploma program. The course invites students to explore and discover what school is for – for themselves. My hope is that students will find what’s actually at the heart of the course, which is actually the student’s own heart. I want them to articulate who they are and who they think they were meant to be. Next I want them to be confident enough to take next steps so and learn how they will apply their individuality in the world for the benefit of others.

I don’t mean students should pick a stream and find “the one” path that will serve them the rest of their lives. Life changes, goals change. It is my belief we are never any one person with a set of static interests. Post-secondary education is about sparking the desire to change constantly and know when and how based on what’s inside, not what’s inside others.

Now, I warned you in a previous post that I’m a former art student. So the above may sound flowery and like wishful thinking. I think that’s okay. Now you try.

Where will you take your education?
Where will you take your education?