Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lessons from the Rink

For the past 5 years, the Optimist Club of my community in Komoka, Ontario, has turned the community tennis courts into an all-season resource. During the winter, it becomes the Kilworth Colliseum. Recently, while out for a game of 'shinney', I found myself reflecting on a few lessons that are transferable to the networked learner.

Lesson #1...Just Play
When fully engaging, an activity can exist for the sake of the experience itself. Learning online, connecting with colleagues, discovering new tools... each of these can be an end in itself. For the sake of learning... just get out there and play!

Lesson #2...Wear a Helmet
When you take learning to public space, you need to do so with caution. Consider how your actions may be perceived by others, and recognize that there may be dangers in sharing too much about yourself or your students. Be sure to take the right precautions before heading out onto the ice.

Lesson #3...Get Back Up
When you take risks; use modern learning tools; and lead with new learning strategies, inevitably, you're going to have lessons that don't quite turn out the way you expect. Regardless of the outcome, teacher-learners need to be resilient.

Lesson #4...Be Sure the Ice is Ready for Skating
When and idea, service, or initiative first comes to light, more often than not, it comes to us in its 'beta' form. Don't expect outstanding results, or a long term solution, if you venture out on such thin ice.

Lesson #5...Throw Your Stick in
The modern equivalent to choosing up sides, may be the co-development of personal learning networks. If you aren't invited to 'throw your stick in'; why not invite others to join you in discussing; learning; developing? Thanks to today's globally hyper-social Web, you can even 'throw your stick in' with people you've never met.

Lesson #6...Room for All
Whether skating on a rink, or learning to use modern learning tools, anyone can participate. Whether on the rink or in personal learning, it's up to the experienced skaters to create an environment that encourages the novices to keep coming out to play!

Lesson #7...Good Ice Takes Time (and Money)
There are a number of high quality apps that can help you and your students be more productive. Maybe it's time we realize that sometimes, it's worthwhile to pay a little bit for the best tools.

Lesson #8...Play to Improve
The more you play the better you get. It's true whether learning to skate, or creating a piece of media. And sometimes, it takes a bit of work, before you can truly see an experience as play.

Lesson #9...Come Outside
Perhaps the most important lesson of all, is that regardless of the season, there are times when we need to put aside our digital tools, and to embrace the wonders and experiences of the real world.
(This final photo is a late addition from Todd Lucier taken at Northern Edge Algonquin.)

The audio podcast episode that led to this post is now online; while my one minute documentary "If You Freeze it, They Will Come" is embedded below.

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