Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Over the course of the last couple of days, I have had a few different conversations about how computers are used to help us in our daily lives. The first conversation started with a workshop I was doing on PLN's where we were talking about twitter and all the great things social networking has to offer. During that workshop, I had a veteran teacher say that she has a hard time seeing computers as something fun. She went on to say that when she was learning about computers, they were introduced to her as a way to do work. Because of that idea, she has never been able to grasp how they can be fun or used for enjoyment.

This idea of computers being only for work was interesting to me and made me think a bit. This was actually true for me as well. I remember one of the first things I did on a computer was type a paper and I also remember seeing images of men and women in professional clothes typing away on them. The teacher's comment also made me think about the images that often come up in clipart when you search for the word computer. Although they are changing a bit lately, there are lots of pictures that show professional people working at a computer. All that being said, it's no surprise that many adults have an image of a computer being made only for work.

Yesterday, as my students were presenting projects they made for a unit on MS Powerpoint, one of them did a presentation that focused on how play can foster learning and she made a comment about how students can be working, but because they're doing it in a fun way, they don't even notice. This brought me back to the first comment and made me think a bit more.
We started out using computers as a way to do work. Then, we found out they can be pretty cool to play with too. Now, we are looking at mixing the two. Why can't work be fun? Why can't we use a game to accomplish a task? All of this made me understand why some teachers struggle with me saying things like "let them play a bit to figure it out" and "use the technology to teach the lesson, not as an extra piece".

Then, naturally, my mind moved over to Second Life. Wow! What a prime example of this! So many look at Second Life as a game. When I tell people I use it every day, they look at me like I'm a weirdo. Yes, there is a lot of play in SL (my favorite part is the dress up) but, most nights you'll find me working. Whether I'm networking, attending workshops or hosting meetings, I use the virtual world for work.

Today, about lunch time, I got an email from that first teacher that was struggling with computers being fun. It read like this:
"My 1st period students loved the iLab. Nearly 1/2 had never been in the lab before. Just wanted you to know that we worked AND (drum roll please) we had FUN!!! "
I was so tickled to hear her response and actually got the opportunity to see her introduce to the iLab to a group of students later in the day. The excitement and enthusiasm in her voice rang throughout the room. I could tell that she had thought about her comment as much as I had.

I encourage everyone to consider this idea. I'm sure many of you reading right now have had an experience working with someone that you have trouble connecting with in the use of technology. You might just be working with a teacher such as mine. It is of no fault to them, they just need to be retrained and to find something that helps them realize that learning and using computers can be fun. Be their guiding light and help them find the excitement that we all see!

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that while the adult you wrote about has a difficult time seeing computers as anything other than a work-related tool, students only see it as something recreational. The reason why students need to be "tricked" into learning is because to them, the computer has been redefined as a social tool - the 21st century equivalent to meeting up with some friends at a coffee shop.