Playgrounds and Playpens
Bers (2012) writes about technological fluency and breaks this term down to better understand the concept. She explains that fluency, in this aspect, is how students are able to apply technology similar to how they use language (p. 8). She explains this further by comparing the use of technology and expressing through poems. She explains “to create a digital picture or program a robot, we first need to learn how to use the keyboard and navigate the interface. Thus we need computer literacy” (p. 8). In order to write poetry we must learn the alphabet and the language. This confirms the relevance and importance of professional development as institutions plan for the integration of technologies.
The Playpen vs. Playground metaphor effectively describes how young learners grow mentally and physically and what restricts them. Young learners are able to explore freely and discover themselves in a playground as there are no borders. In a playpen, children are restricted to four walls, limiting them from being fully autonomous and are not able to explore outside of the constraints or walls of the playpen.
Bers, M. U. (2012). Designing digital experiences for positive youth development: From playpen to playground. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Learning Organizations and Senge's Five Disciplines
In my current career I participate in, and sometimes lead, learning organizations. I develop, design and/or facilitate a number of professional development sessions for online instructors. These sessions, including Quality Matters workshops, address the educational and pedagogical needs for effectively designed online and blended courses. These sessions are designed so that members of the workshops can collaborate and discuss various approaches on how online courses should be designed in order to meet the needs of learners. My role in this scenario is to monitor and guide the participants to ensure that they are communicating effectively so that the main objectives of the workshops are being met.
A Systems Thinking approach is used in these scenarios. Participants are able to prove Personal Mastery in the topic being learned, as they are often working in their own course environments with their own content and discipline. Technologies a can be incorporated as they best fit the content. Instructors who participate in my professional development sessions attend with their own vision of the students who typically enroll in their courses. This allows them to integrate specific procedure, technology or design which they feel would best suit their students (Mental Models). The main purpose of my sessions is to aim towards excellence in utilizing technologies in web-enhanced, blended and online learning environments. All of the participants want to do create the best learning environment so that their students achieve at the highest level (Shared Vision). Finally, participants in my workshops, whether they are in-person or online, are able to collaborate and share what has worked in their courses, question how to integrate a technology or plan from their peers Individuals are able to engage with peers with various levels of knowledge pertaining to online pedagogy, educational technologies, and more (Team Learning).
Senge. P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, Revised edition. New York, NY: Doubleday.