Playing is how we learn – exploring an object or concept by experiencing parts of the whole and finding new ways to interact with each part or for parts to interact with each other. Playing is usually related to gaming, which I have written about already. You can see my Gameography, where I detail skills that video games taught me – show your parents and maybe you can play video games all day like I do. I don’t actually play video games all day, but I do play all day. To me, playing is something we do in our mind, with our bodies. Someone can participate in a game without really playing it; there has to be an active component of playfulness in the player in order for the action to be complete. Therefore, to me, any action can be playing as long as the player chooses – consciously or subconsciously – to participate in that way.
As part of being in Mark’s class, we were added to a wiki page that we called “Learniversity” – an obvious amalgamation of learning, and university – the two things we were doing that day. I’m not unfamiliar with Wikis – although that was my first time dedicating myself to one, I have browsed, added to, and edited other popular wiki pages. The most popular being entries on Wikipedia, but I also frequent a large amount of gaming wikis in order to expand my knowledge of whatever game I’m most interested in that day. Playing with the Wiki taught me simple navigational skills that are the foundation for all computer literacy. This is not a skill I was already without, but by being aware of what skill I am practicing, I believe it will be better nurtured.
I learned an important lesson in persistence from participating on our wiki. Most days, people didn’t have anything new to say. But, when I let that mindset take me over, I would go from checking daily to going a week without checking the wiki at all, and end up missing valuable conversation. So, I learned that no matter how little the activity appears in the present, I should always be prepared to participate in the future.
The wiki also provided a regular reference for all of my course material, and an agenda. Although I did not learn directly from these things, it was tool I could use to augment my learning. I really appreciated being able to check what was occurring in class, who was going to be hosting, what they were planning, what homework was due, and being able to ask any questions I had along the way.
Most of my play-based learning came from playing with this blog. I used this blog to record what I learned from our weekly readings, to come to critical conclusions after noting my own actions observations, and learned how to keep up with writing a comparatively large amount of work, to my previous semesters’ work. I like the process of writing something down and then following sentences to a natural conclusion; it is how I learn. It’s also how I express myself, and if you’re interested in that I have some plays (theatrical plays, not playing like I’ve been discussing, although I could certainly write about it) for you to read as well.
All electronic literacy can be strengthened with play. Sadly, playing computer games for most kids tends to mean playing Minecraft or Overwatch (these days at least, the industry is fickle so you could likely be playing something new by the time you read this). These games have value, I talk about it in my Gameography. However, there is also value in children becoming literate with photo, video, and sound editing software. There are many free and premium versions of these programs, and some of which are so bare bones that most children could mix their own albums as part of an elementary school curriculum. Allowing children to play with the software, and then augmenting their experience with actual knowledge of how to create something with it, could lead to an entire generation of artists who are both capable of and proficient at using multiple types of programs to create the media we already surround ourselves with. If nothing else, I know that I can, and my one-day children can, learn how to do just about anything with some dedication and focused play.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to LittleFears, who was the first person outside of my class to react to something I’ve worked on. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet you (he? she? It doesn’t matter – they) saw my work because I spent the past hour figuring out tags to attach to my work. I learned about tagging this semester; that I can tag a piece of work and a search engine result of it will appear if at least one of the tags is mentioned. This is huge, because my work can be seen by an international audience if marketed correctly. Promotion and marketing are some of my passions, and now that I have learned a little more about how to be great at it, I am one step closer to finding my dream job.
What is my dream job? As of today it’s either writer for a friendly theatre company, director of a camp or retreat center, facilitator of an adult artistic recreation program, or music producer. If you can tell, I really don’t like retail. BUT, I cook fries for money during the school year, to fund my dream; if you like my work and think you can use me in a way that will benefit us both, I’m here and I’m hardworking. The wiki also taught me those things. Without a web-based forum to orbit my learning process around, I would have found myself disorganized and often lost. Now that I understand that, I can discard the forum and find ways to orbit my education – and work – around myself.
I can make my own agenda instead of reading the course outline. I can set my own goals instead of referring to a syllabus. And when I have questions, there are many forums and modes of communication I can employ to consult an expert, instead of posting to my classmates. I learned what worked this semester, and my next step is going out and finding ways to make it work for myself. I carry an agenda with me. I set goals and record them in a journal. And I am in the process of making connections with experts that I will one day be able to refer back to, if I need them. Most of them are going to be once-classmates, friends who have graduated and became my colleagues. This is one of my greatest goals, to work with my friends. And no matter what, even if my friends now do not become my coworkers in the future, this goal will certainly be accomplished.