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Ambient… February 26, 2009

Posted by handspiker in Uncategorized.
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Last nights class with Stephen Downes was one of the best so far for me in our course. To me Stephen seemed to be pulling all our previous talks (connectivism, sharing, learning, etc.) into one. This cleared much up for me in a positive way. He seemed to lose me in the later part of the discussion with the terminology and technical talk, but there was one concept that really drew me in. That was ambient learning.

The idea of ambient learning where we can learn everywhere at any time I think is the true mark of what education may strive to be. To often we think of education in a formal sense, where walls in a classroom or institution surround us. Much of the early years of our life is learning, not in formalized sense but in an experiential way. As a child we experience our learning though our actions and inactions. We learn manner life lessons this way.

Many teachers are striving toward this. I know I am. Students and some teachers are tired of the “stagnant” environment that we are placed in. Is that conducive to learning? Under the fluorescent lights, tiny windows, rows and desks? Perhaps for some students. I know in my fall action research project I have found myself best learning under this experiential manner and many of my students seemed to blossom during this experiential phase.

An off the cuff remark made last year to our community coordinator led to the planning and currently attempted building of an outdoor classroom. This classroom is not tradional with walls but an open-air concept with gardens, trees, shrubs, etc. With studies saying that fresh air and exposure to sun increasing the benefits of education it seemed like a logical exploration. The students will learn as much if not more in planning, constructing and maintaining the facility than in a traditional classroom.

As a father of two boys I see ambient learning about everywhere at any time using life as the learning backdrop. It is a daily occurrence using life to teach my 5 and 2.5-year-old lessons that will stick with them. Isn’t that the goal of an educator? Do our lessons about the Structure of Royal Government in New France, Ultra Vires in Law 30, or the Brain is Psych 20 stick with them? Maybe, but probably more than likely not. Perhaps if we look at the stagnancy in today’s education system and reshape it, perhaps it could work better.

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