I’m asking myself what I’ve learnt from this report about young people and how they learn with new media (i.e. digital and interactive media). One thing common to each of the observations of messing around detailed in the report is that there was a need. For example, there’s the girl who wanted her Myspace page to look good, the boy who wanted to know how to install a video card and the other boy who wanted to make the game he was playing more fun by using a cheat to get rid of the police. And one commonality to all these needs is that each one was realised within the student. Another commonality is that each need is, for lack of a better word, personal – her Myspace page, his computer and so on. I’m wondering whether students would mess around in the same way if, say, the need were less personal? Would students mess around in the same way for an ICT project? Are students already messing around in the same way for ICT projects and I just don’t know about it?
The next question I think I need to ask myself is: Can this information on messing around in some way be applied to my lessons? I typically teach skills to my students through video tutorials which either I find on YouTube or make myself. These videos I embed into lesson pages along with instructions and other files on my school’s e-learning platform. This report, however, has got me asking whether I should be serving up videos to my students in this way. Would it be better if I gave them the freedom to find their own video tutorials? For a while now I’ve been thinking about providing videos to students in lower grades and then slowly phasing them out so that by grade ten, for example, students are required to find videos on their own. Does this idea perhaps work better with the observations made in the report?
Messing around has a number of benefits and I thought I would discuss these here. One is that students acquire, and later refine, skills in problem solving and research. In other words, students learn how to learn. Another benefit of messing around is that students explore potential interests and I really think this is important as it helps in giving them a direction – something to work towards. Messing around also enables students to acquire skills for operating computers and the software within them.