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Posts Tagged ‘state

Something I heard on a podcast reminded me of a design principle I am using for online learning.

In the podcast, one person told a story of how her mother found a tool to create word searche puzzles for that person’s grandmother. This was an attempt to stem the mental deterioration of the grandmother.

To make activity more meaningful, the mother used the names of relatives so that the grandmother would not forget them. The grandmother appreciated the effort, but she also remarked, “Who the hell are all these people?”

I laughed. I also reflexively thought about how this was similar to pedagogical design — there is a gap between the intent and the outcome.

How so? The design of online resources is often about the content, activities, and time spent on both. They are about the what, how, and when of learning. Some learners will just do what they are told. Others will not.

My learners are teachers and educators. Sometimes these are the toughest learners because they are comparing their own teaching and learning experiences with an online one I design for them. I have decided to include short design rationales with each activity. I am telling them why I have designed something that way and why they need to perform that task.

I hope that making design rationales clear helps my learners connect better with the processes and products of learning. I am revealing my state of mind so that they are less likely to ask, “Why the heck am I doing this?”

When we stay focused over a long period in a challenging activity, we might say that we are “in the zone”. We are so immersed that we might forget to eat, drink, or rest.

I am “in the zone” when I design learning experiences while at a library, or even when I grade papers at a coffee joint. The same could be said of kids with “short attention spans” who are able to play a video game hours on end.

Video source

While the layperson might call this state being “in the zone”, SciShow Psych host, Hank Green, tells us that a Hungarian-American psychologist called it the “autotelic state”. Today those in the know call it “flow”.

I believe that Green was thinking of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, but given how difficult that name might be to pronounce, he elected to avoid the it. Perhaps one needs to be in a state of flow to pronounce that name.

It seems odd to know WHAT flow is, but not be sure HOW it happens. Answers range from synchronised neurones to transient hypofrontality, or from theta waves to brain chemical cocktails. The video above provides some details.

But no video can neatly pack into a nutshell how to design for and create flow in a classroom. Nor should it. Classrooms silo content, are interrupted by bells, and rarely provide ownership and empowerment. Rivers flow; jugs of water do not.

There might be something about the month of September as far as my blog goes. It seems to attract a form of archival reflection.

I had this recent exchange on Twitter.

It involved something I wrote in September 2014 about Twitter-based edu chats.

Going even further back, I received another pingback notification from this blog. It was about my opinion on elements that distinguished an educator from a teacher. I reflected on this in September 2012.

Another reflection I wrote that same month and year was one about not using “best practices” in education. It gets lots of daily hits. Even my attempt to provide a more current page does not draw as many views. Perhaps the embedded conversation in the original is what draws readers.

The only month to rival September might be July when daily views of my blog shot up to five-figures.

Miuccia Prada’s Eyes (For Harper’s Bazaa by tsevis, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  tsevis 

Blogging is not cool any more. It has not been for a while. Over the last few years, various edublogging thought leaders have observed and lamented that fact.

Some have attributed this to how easy it is for people to tweet or retweet blog links, often without actually reading the entries, and having tweet chats. The same could be said of how this happens because of Facebook or Google+. Others have pointed out the greater variety of platforms now that attract and distract audiences.

All that does not matter because it focuses on the wrong things. Most edubloggers are not making money out of sharing online. Our capital is the building up of reputation and respect. The multiple channels help with with reach by amplifying a message. But that deeper message, reflection, or thought leadership is still in an edublog.


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