Home > Uncategorized > Full Bodied Learning vs. Brains and Thumbs

Full Bodied Learning vs. Brains and Thumbs

I’m in a professional development seminar for seventeen “Master Teachers” in NC independent schools.  Tools for online learning are a big focus, and my mind is churning.

“School,” in my tradition-influenced outlook, is first and foremost a gathering of people–complete with blood and sweat and skin cells shedding into the air; attractions and repulsions in dynamic flux.  At its most reduced, the online world engages brains and thumbs.  One would think it utterly sterile, yet even this world has passion.  And of course it has possibilities far beyond the boundaries of our physical reach.

How should we balance the digital and tangible elements of education?  A child can observe turbidity by pouring milk into a tank of water or by watching an online simulation.  What is the difference?  How about between a conversation in person and on Skype?  Children can use scissors and markers to collaborate on a poster, or they can create a wiki without ever meeting.  What is the difference?

Which children do well with online learning tools?  At what ages, and in what amounts are they most effective?  What is gained and lost in asynchronous, synchronous, and face-to-face learning situations?  Do children engaged in digital learning benefit from the supervision of an adult that isn’t a teacher?  Could there be a role here for a slightly older mentor (e.g. Montessori-style)?

Surely psychologists and school-of-education-types are exploring such questions.  Here’s one article that’s relevant; I’d love to get links to others.   I’m inclined to think there’s also a role for school-based experimentation.  I’d like to work with a group of students and teachers to identify some questions and compare ways of getting answers:

  • non-interactive (solo)–search of digital & print resources
  • individual interaction with an expert–in person, online
  • group exploration in class with teacher

I think participants would learn things about themselves in such a process, and their collective experience could help a school find the right balance for its population.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Amanda Holliday
    February 6, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I would be willing to do some experimentation with this this spring. It would be interesting to take one text and approach parts of it in the 3 ways you listed above and then get feedback from the kids on how they liked learning the best and which seems the most effective.

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