Learn to Tinker; Tinker to Learn

I like this CNET prizefight metaphor comparing IE7 and Firefox 2. CNET compares the two browser contenders on Installation Woes, Look and Community, Tabbed Browsing, Cool New Features, and Security and Performance. Firefox wins in every category, with the expert panel of judges scoring the bout

Firefox2 64
IE7 47

A couple of comments from the Look and Community round of the comparison:

Firefox destroys IE in the extension and plug-in department. There are hundreds of tools for Firefox to enable all manner of customizing. IE has extensions too, but not like Firefox.

Firefox’s open-source status and myriad add-ons give it a community edge over IE 7.

Basically, Firefox encourages tinkering.

Recently, Steve Hargadon interviewed John Seely Brown, former director of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Courtesy of Wesley Fryer, I capture here some excellent coverage of the interview:

John shared that a huge amount of the learning he did which formed the foundation for all his formal education had to do with informal “tinkering.”. . . John now realizes that his ability to pick up new skills today was hugely facilitated by those formative experiences with TINKERING.

Tinkering has come back IN through these virtual participatory architectures: with music, open source software, social networking environments, online games, virtual worlds, etc.

Says Fryer: We need to encourage and empower kids to be TINKERERS again. I recognize that I am a “tinkerer” when it comes to the blogosophere, online software, and computer technology. . . The need to be flexible and adaptable in our learning styles (having a more navigational rather than procedural approach) is certainly important now in our dynamic information environment, and I think it’s safe to bet that “disposition” will continue to provide relevance in the years ahead.

When we think of browsers in schools, do we think of Firefox? When we think of students in schools, do we think of tinkerers?


One Response to Learn to Tinker; Tinker to Learn

  1. keoughp says:

    John Seely Brown’s podcast is very insightful Joe.

    We participate therefore we are – learning conversations and learning truly begins once we leave the classroom – learning comes from playing with ideas – engage in productive inquiry – creative problem solving – solve the problem on the web – passive learning vs. active learning – School 2.0 engaged students – engaged teachers a proactive way to teach or facilitate learning – edge transforms the core – social pillars are crumbling and we expect the school system to do it all – community pillars and social basis for learning – find the content when you need it – critical thinking – rethink the inquiry method. Great stuff! Teacher as the critical coach WOW! Open source – arbitrator of truth – truth checker – does this work or not? Rethink Dewey – Culture of learning – studio based learning – teacher as tour guide. Teachers as sage on stage to the mentor approach to instruction.

    great stuff! He is preaching to the choir with me


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