In Defense of Fun

I’ve had some ideas floating around my brain the past couple of weeks and I realized today that they actually collide with each other.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is the concept of fun as it relates to education. One reason for this line of thinking is a project in which I’m involved. For this project educators are being asked to think differently about homework, social networking, and student use of resources. There’s been some discussion among the project team about how teachers and librarians do not always realize that social tools aren’t simply about giving students a chance to have fun while learning. A point in integrating these tools is that they help make learning more meaningful to students. For many students using these tools is fun because it relates to their real lives and interests. As a result, students are more engaged in learning. When they are engaged they are more likely to understand content.

That’s one topic that’s rattling around in my brain.

The other area that I’ve been focusing a lot of brain power on is the mainstreaming of technologies like Twitter. Because I think it’s an important part of my job to be on the look out for the next big thing, I’ve been wondering what’s going to be the next thing to take the world by storm in the same way Facebook and Twitter have. So far, there’s nothing on the horizon, that I’ve seen or heard about at least, that has the excitement and potential that many saw in the early days of Twitter. This lack of something new to investigate and analyze has actually made my job a bit less fun. I still love Twitter, but it no longer has the “wow this is cool” aspect for me that it once did. For me to be totally engaged in certain aspects of my work, I need the chance to have fun learning something new and fun thinking about how this new “thing” can help and support librarians and the teens that they serve.

When I realized these two areas did have a connection, I also realized this train of thought is something to consider when I think about ways to connect with and inform educators, colleagues, and community members. What if instead of talking about the benefits of web 2.0 technologies for student teaching and learning, conversations started with a discussion of how even in the work that adults do, finding something new to integrate into professional and personal experience can help reinvigorate what might otherwise grow stale? Even for adults, learning something new and integrating it into life can (and often should) be a fun experience.

This of course might tread very close to the scary world of change, but if presented in just the right way, it might be a perfect strategy to turn the tide in thinking about use of new tools in teaching, learning, and library programs and services. What do you think?

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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