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12 September 2012 @ 07:53 am
Real Learners Have Curves  
My friend Paul W. Hankins always refers to himself as the lead learner. I know what he means. As each new semester begins, I am amazed that there is still learning to do after all these years. And I realize how fortunate it is that I am still learning after all these years. Here are some of the tings I might have missed had I not been open to some curves being thrown my way:

1. Using computers. Yes, I am that old, folks. I was one of the lucky folks. Our local educational center offered some fellowships for ELA teachers to learn about using computers in the classroom more than 30 years ago. I learned about software and some little bit about hardware as well. I learned that the computer would not blow up if I did something wrong. That emboldened me to try many new things on computers over the years. Yesterday, I downloaded screen casting software to the PC and iPad and did some preliminary casts to see what applications they would have to my teaching. Last week, I uploaded Sound Cloud recordings to my class sites to help students with assignments.

2. Books in other than traditional forms and formats. I became a convert to audiobooks some time ago. Now, with my commuting and the wonderful invention of the mp3 player, I can add so many more books to my list each year. eBooks are also part and parcel of my reading. Just yesterday, College Girl posted that she, too, has become a convert to eBooks, especially textbooks. But this curve also included graphic novels, narrative nonfiction, and other genres of reading I might have avoided in the past. I now read more and more widely now.

3. As our university embarks on offering PD online (a la Coursera), I am one of the lead learners, working alongside an incredibly energetic and knowledgeable colleague (we are having lunch today to begin sketching out the content of the basic web site for this venture and for our first course offerings). The potential is here for offering PD to folks for whom travel to a university is impossible. We can reach out to anyone with a computer and a connection (and that is another hurdle someone who is a lead learner will have to help solve with his or her class).

I try to remember, then, that learning involves handling those curves. Sometimes, it comes easy to me. Other times I struggle. And many times, I need the help of another learner.
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