Our school has a “Computer Clubhouse.” It’s an extra computer lab where you can take an entire class without interfering with our computer teacher’s schedule. I try to use it every so often, but I always sign up for a time when we have one of our paperless days. Last week we had a paperless day and so I decided to use the afternoon to introduce my students to Glogster EDU. My initial intention was to have my students start a project on immigration, but I had a few glitches with setting up my class. However, I persevered and we went upstairs anyway and I told my students to, “play around and explore what Glogster can do.”
“What? Really?” was the reaction I got. In fact, about every 5 minutes another student asked me, “What are we doing?”
“Playing around on Glogster,” I’d say.
“But what should we be doing?”
“Try things out. Add text, an image, mess with the design, the layout. Play around!”
It was at that moment that the student’s eyes would get a little bit of craziness in them, an excited expression, as they were let loose on the digital playground. After about the sixth time explaining this (I don’t like to repeat myself all that much) I stopped the class and stated, “In order to use this program well, you will need to know how to use it and the best way to do this is to play around and try things out. Enjoy your time. We won’t even talk about the assignment until next week.”
And as the students went on with their focused playtime (for no student went off to another website), I was reaffirmed of the importance of play. We all need it. It’s an important part of our learning process and well worth our time – even in the computer clubhouse. We can’t expect students to be experts in new technology or applications. They first need time to play (and so do we!)