Angela Brown – Makers, Monsters and Humble Heroes: A Year of Writing with AACE Review

‘Perhaps we might be able to keep this fierce and beautiful world of ours as free for all of us as it seemed to be on that blue afternoon of my childhood.’ Cressida Cowell, How to Speak Dragonese,

It is hard to imagine that I have now been writing with AACE Review for the last year!  I can honestly say it has been a lot of fun. Writing blog posts about subjects I love, alongside other writers, for an international non-profit organisation, is something I am fond about being involved in.

I work as a Learning Designer in higher education in South Australia. I have always tried to demystify learning through technology.  I’ve worked across the disciplines including nursing, science and engineering and I’m currently embedded in humanities, arts and social sciences. My not-very-secret mission is to help educators discover that the machine languages and tools of computers can be used for creative, heart-felt imaginative forms of human expression, accessible to anyone. I’m very fond of the simple pedagogy of people making things together. I swap screens for nature as much as possible, camping in the wilderness, growing vegetables or pointing a telescope at the night sky.

What I loved writing

My favourite article to write for AACE Review was Getting Unstuck with Makey Makey.  It was a turning point in understanding that what can be valuable to share about technology, is not just what tools we use, or how we use them, but the thoughts and surprising sources of inspiration that lead us to the idea to make something.

Another article, taught me how to banish some of the anxiety of sharing my writing. This was The faces of School Library Makerspaces: Teacher Librarians Jackie Child and Megan Daley.  It’s an incredible honour to find a way to use words to shine a light on the often-unsung work of librarians.

What I loved reading in 2018

Peer-to-Peer learning with Open Educational Resources by Stefanie Panke

Following P2PU (Peer to Peer University) in their work to support communities and libraries to use the concept of Learning Circles has always connected me to why I am in the instructional design field.  This article was a fantastic insight into the ongoing amazing work of the group of people behind P2PU.

Digital Well-Being: Are Devices Overwhelming or Extending Our Minds? by Chryssa Themelis

This article stood out to me because it summarised the spectrum of how we approach technology in education.  We imagine it from the extremes of saviour to monster and everything in between. There are some great thought provoking questions to consider about the future interface between the internet and the human mind.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning & Media Selection by Sandra Rogers

A fascinating insight into the ways that massively multiplayer computer games (the article gives examples of EverQuest II) can be applied to learning languages and plenty of opportunities to explore this further.

For Auld Lang Syne, from the archives

Is It Possible to Learn Anything Online? A Student’s Perspective by Neo Hao

Written in 2015, I found this article while browsing through the categories on the AACE Review website.  I really like the honest account of learning online, from a student’s perspective. For anyone who has studied online, keeping motivated and completing a MOOC is a huge achievement. Learning can be lonely. There are questions in this article that we need to keep asking about online learning, even after three years!

Personal Learning Goals

I have always been a very self-motivated, independent learner, so my personal learning goals often blur messily with my professional learning.  

In 2019, so far I want to:

  1.   teach myself Python
  2.   experiment as much as possible with Makey Makey and Micro.bit
  3.   teach myself to play C418’s song Living Mice from Minecraft on piano, and then trying to do a version in Sonic Pi.  
  4.   Get up to speed with Scratch 3.0  by first,  leaving space for my children to explore it, and then asking them to share their learning with me. This the same approach I’ll take in Code Club too. Resist the urge to lead learning!

The above list was originally my list to achieve in January 2019.  

This leads into my overarching personal learning goal: to be better at setting realistic expectations.

Final words for 2018

From an unlikely hero, and by an author whom it might be said, writes more about imagined worlds of dragons, than about the real world of education. However, I’ve always found that the boundaries we make, yield more in the crossing of them.  So, I will leave you with these words in the hope that they will inspire you to imagine beyond the walls and fences of our own making.

“I suddenly realised with such clearness what pinpricks we were on this ocean universe. What swaggering insects! What posturing amoebas! … However small we are, we should always fight for what we believe to be right. And I don’t mean fight with the power of our fists or the power of our swords. I mean the power of our brains and our thoughts and our dreams.

And as small and quiet and unimportant as our fighting may look, perhaps we might all work together. Perhaps we might be able to keep this fierce and beautiful world of ours as free for all of us as it seemed to be on that blue afternoon of my childhood.”

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III  

Cressida Cowell, How to Speak Dragonese

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