My wife has just purchased an IPad2. We took it home and took it out of the box and found something very interesting. It did not have one of those huge booklets explaining how to use it and how to set it up. We simply switched it on and then followed the screen instructions.
After the initial setting up of the account information we found ourselves with a Home Screen full of icons. There was no real explanation of how to use the icons and therefore we had to explore them.
Now I have been working for a few years now to encourage my previously technophobic wife to explore and play with the technology because “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” (it won’t explode!).
She has taken my advice and has gained confidence, particularly with her beloved Facebook and its many addictive games. About a year ago we both purchased Android phones and began to experiment with touch screen technology and the use of Apps.
So, when the new iPad arrived we had no fear of experimentation and most importantly, no fear of failure. We both appreciated that we would learn by playing with the machine. We did not need to go to a course to learn, or wade through some lengthy booklet that said press this button and then that one. We just played and found out.
The Android phone experience was wonderful, we had a point of reference for using a touchscreen and for downloading Apps. We loaded up the Safari web browser which neither of us had ever used before and quickly found out how to use it (again based on our experiences of using Explorer, Chrome and most importantly Firefox).
We are now on day 2 of playing with our Pad and we are finding it a really good experience. We have made lots of mistakes but have not been phased by them and we are gaining proficiency as we go along.
The idea that you learn naturally by exploring, making mistakes and most of all not fearing the prospect of failure is what makes all forms of learning fun and enriching. Compare this to what might have happened if we had been told that the only place to learn how to use the iPad was to go to a school, sit in a classroom, wade through texts and try to follow some teacher/lecturer who drones on about important aspects of how to use the machine and then sends us to sleep!
I just wonder why we continue to persevere with an outdated system that creates barriers to real learning and do not follow Apple’s brilliant example…. give them a chance to play and experiment, make it fun and make failure a learning process rather than a wall to be overcome.