Learning is learning…isn’t it?

Having just completed a rather long essay on how ‘metacognitive’ thinking can impact on attainment I was reminded of something that one of the lecturers had said. “Learning is learning.”

By that they meant that it doesn’t matter what age you are or what the subject area is, learning is simply learning. I could go into several definitions by respected academics at this point but boredom would set in on both sides of the screen. However, I was reminded of an unusual situation I was in on the way back from supporting some schools in Kazakhstan.

On the aircraft I was surrounded by some tough looking military types who were overjoyed at the opportunity to sample the inflight hostess service. After about half an hour of this (and several wines, beers and shots) they obviously wanted to make friends….with me. Their english wasn’t great but it was a million times better than my Russian or Kazakh. We stumbled through a conversation and I gleaned that they were tank commanders in the KZ army on route to Nice for some joint training with the French. Then they asked me what I did. Obviously that is difficult to explain, I teach children, I teach adults, I help learners learn more effectively and I tend to use technology to do it. This was a strain on our lingua franca so I whipped out my iPad (luckily not the mini iPad with the mini mouse cover!) and opened Explain Everything.

I immediately tried to show how the technology helps me as a teacher or a learner to manipulate ideas (the screen shot is of my first diagram I drew for them to show

imagehow how we could look at Tank field positions and tactics.

This isn’t an area of expertise for me to be fair but immediately the guys could see how the ability to manipulate ideas, try out a solution then go back and all in a socially shared space (at 33 000ft!).

So we can debate the theory of what learning is long and hard but as a starter for ten I can say that using the device in this way immediately made sense in terms of allowing me to show how you can learn with an iPad in the most unfamiliar situations!

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