Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on Playful Knowledge

I am an educational technologist. The AECT Defines educational technology as, “The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Januszewski, A., Molenda, M., 2008 p.1) What that means to me is that as an elementary classroom teacher I have been able to embed my teaching and learning inside a technological framework. At times I do use technology as a tool to support instruction but I also view technology as a place for student centred exploration and construction. As the teacher I believe it is my responsibility to create and then facilitate a learning environment that my students can be interactive in. I also believe that for meaningful learning to occur they need to use technology to make connections to each other and the information that drives their curiosity. I can also say quite confidently that I now see this work through the lens of an interpretive researcher. By that I mean I view teaching and learning as deeply linked. Deep learning is personal yet socially constructed. As learners we need opportunity to dialogue with each other and what we understand as knowledge. Play is an action. We must poke, push and pull at our understanding. Interpretive work is playful work. Play is not subjective or objective but a constructed pursuit. Play is what we must do in order to make knowledge our own and not someone else’s. Interpretive research looks for culturally derived and historically situated interpretations of the social life-world (Crotty p.67). I do not wish to explain how teachers are using technology in the 21st century as much as I wish to understand it. There has already been much fine research in educational technology that explains the barriers that teachers face when trying to utilize technology in their classrooms. Yet much of this comes from a scientific tradition and has been accomplished through a natural science method focused on causality and empirical validation. While this research pool is rich with useful and interesting data, I believe it is missing something vital to help us understand the life-world of teachers today. Little is said about the complexities of today’s classroom and little is heard from the voice of the teachers who live in this complexity. For me explanations are ineffectual without being surrounded with understanding.

Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research : meaning and perspective in the research process. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage Publications.

Januszewski, A., M. Molenda, et al. (2008). Educational technology : a definition with commentary. New York, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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