Everything Bad is Good for You
Johnson (2005) described in his book how he loved a game that his father brought home for him called American Professional Baseball Association (p.2). As a kid he didn’t think about how he was using his mind when playing the game. He was able to analyze how different players would place him in a better standing, based on character stats, than others playing the game. This reminded me of a game (which is also mentioned in the book), Sim City. It was a game a play almost every day of at least two of my summer vacations as a child. Although I thought, at the time, I was playing a mindless game, I was actually strategizing how I was building my city. I would figure out where residential areas should be placed, how I could divert or lessen traffic in various areas. My grandfather, who would watch over me as I played the game, secretly thought that I would become an architect due to how well I played the game. This type of game which requires users to analyze components of game is similar to how technology can enable individuals to think analytically.
Johnson (2005) mentions an important point that I never thought of about gaming. How much time that is spent on a game being frustrated or confused, can train or help how one generally thinks about working out obstacles or challenges in life (p. 25). Something that I’ve used that Johnson mentions were game guides which helped you get through difficult areas of the guide. This can be likened to reading manuals on how to fix a broken appliance. It also helped those children who hated to read an opportunity to read something that they were truly interested in (p.28).
Johnson, S. (2005). Everything bad is good for you. New York: Penguin.
The text brought me back to my undergraduate years as I took my Sociology courses. It reminded me of my academic advisor and mentor in college (who I still communicate with today) about being a Sociology major and what type of career you achieve with the acquired knowledge and experiential learning components. To this day, she asks me to come back to campus to speak to current students about my history: my work experience, my internships, my degrees and how they feed into one another, and how I think my undergraduate studies helped to morph me into my current status (professionally and educationally). I relate this to the reference of old-timers and newcomers. I am a member of their general community of practice but could be considered as an old timer who put my knowledge to practice in real life situations (with a job in IT, Human Resources, academia, etc.). If these students interned with me in my various roles as an individual with an undergraduate degree in Sociolgy, legitimate peripheral participation could take place. They could see how their degree and knowledge would be advantageous in various settings.
Design for How People Learn
Active learning is a big topic of conversation in this program, in educational settings at all levels and in my current position in a university. Something mentioned in the text is the importance of learning about students and how to go about it. In my mind, I labeled this “Active Teaching” coupled with “Active Learning.” First Dirkson (2016) explains the importance of talking to your learners. This allows a teachers to assess the effectivenesss of his/her own teaching strategies (p. 55). Second, “following learners around” will allow educators to access the experience in the students’ actual learning environment. Finally, “trying stuff out with your learners” will allow educators to pilot different ideas that he/she may have to enhance the learning experience (p.55, Dirkson, 2016)
An important point that Dirkson (2016) points out is the biggest problem with memorization. She explains that when students memorize, they often place the information “on just one shelf” (p. 121). This increases the likelihood that the student will not be able to apply the information in different or multiple contexts. Because the students are not able to apply a concept in multiple scenarios, confusion or the amount of time to apply a concept may take a long period time.
Something that made me think about Instructional Design practices was Dirkson’s (2016) description of helping learners understand. She explains that the “right content” is: (1) less than you think it is, (2) enough detail but no more, (3) relevant to the learners and (4) stuff that can fit in their closet, with some expansion or rearranging. (p. 170). I believe that it is possible to overload students to the point of exhaustion or making students feel overwhelmed. If it is possible to get important points and concepts across to students, why not do that with less?
Dirksen, J. (2016). Design for how people learn (2nd edition). Berkeley, Calif: New Riders.