Archives for category: Technology

Defining “work” has been tough lately. Being “productive” requires a new definition. Is it work when a music student plays an instrument? When is it fun? When is it not?

Of course it’s up to the person, but the music example makes me think about my own work/fun distinctions. What is work if learning and teaching are fun? What is work if reading about and using new web technology is fun? What is work if the result demonstrates some quality about you that later fulfills some necessary requirement or constitutes some value?

Clay Shirky and Yochai Benkler make arguments about work, but I’m thinking about experience, affects. It is not enough to have new theories about work/fun, we must also have ways to think, feel, and be.

I’m developing a behavior that’s new to me. I do not believe change occurs in the future, far off in the distance. I believe in the presence and immediacy of change today, tomorrow. The future makes me weary–it is heavy on the soul. But the present has opportunity, it is bearable and light.

It is not sufficient to suggest change (improvement or reconfiguration) must occur in the future alone. Change can and should happen in the present, with wider and longer views in mind.

This really has to do with approaching problems. I encourage anyone who reads this to think about a problem and how it can begin to be addressed by change today, tomorrow and continue to change from there.

Today I select education, its emphasis on “lecturing” and “dumping” knowledge on students. Today and tomorrow I can work on change by practicing new methods of education, like peer-to-peer learning at P2PU (through a course I’m running about writing Wikipedia articles this fall for free for anyone) and through strategizing how to get teachers and learners of all sorts to flip the classroom.

To get what I mean about education, read this. Note it’s not about technology, it’s about pedagogy and learning.

Reading a few old sources for a research project, I came across this snippet by Anya Kamenetz in DIY U. It’s written in the context of technology and education, offering some new perspectives (like those of Edupunks and Edupreneurs). However, I think it’s nearly universal:

Our best hope is to get better at empowering individuals to find answers for themselves. In other words, forget about giving the guy a fish, or teaching him how to fish, either. Teach him how to teach himself, and he’ll always be able to acquire the skills he needs to find food, skills you haven’t even thought of yet for things you didn’t know you could eat.

and from there, the anecdote gets real:

Fishing itself, it happens, is a great example of this. Today, 90 percent of fish species are over-exploited. Fish farming is people’s fastest-growing source of food and will probably remain so until 2025, says James S. Diana of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The world needs people who can figure out new ways to repair the oceans and to find or grow renewable sources of food.

Here, here, Anya!

Although it does a great job of flipping the old “Teach A Person to Fish” story, there’s something to be desired in terms of community, cooperation, and social capital. Oh well, I’ll have to be on the look-out for that next great anecdote.