Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the first gathering of a small group of colleagues interested in discussing The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks. We were only supposed to meet for an hour but the conversation was flowing so well when we looked at the clock we were of course over that!
An interesting topic of conversation that was raised was the idea of play in using technology. Some educational philosophers share the idea that children learn new concepts through play. Some academic programs are based around the concept of learning through play at the primary level. I say - Yes! - learning through play is a great idea!
When I was teaching first and second grades it was always powerful to allow students time to explore new tools before getting down to "the real work" we were going to do with them. It never failed that the students would start driving the instruction and learning through the discoveries they made while exploring.
I, and others, are finding this same concept of learning through play holding true with students learning new technology tools. By allowing students time to explore/play with a new tool they end up learning the features of that tool. Students end up sharing with one another what they have figured out and this leads to them engaging in conversations. And always, I mean always, they end up figuring out something I didn't even know yet!
What do you think about the idea of play using technology? Is it powerful? Do students learn from it? Feel free to share your thoughts!