Embrace Experimentation

Giulia Forsythe

The English Oxford Dictionary defines an experimenter as a person who “tries out new ideas, methods and activities”. Experimenters are adventurers, path finders, seekers; they are inquisitive and have “an openness to try, reflect & learn from new approaches, pedagogy and technologies to support student learning” (Bates, 2014).

If you’ve ever had the fun and sometimes frustrating experience of watching a young child feed when the “magic of gravity” is discovered, you have witnessed first-hand how we are all born experimenters. As the young experimenter throws the spoon or food on the floor and the nearby adult picks it up, the child monitors, analyzes, and evaluates the actions with all the precision of a scientist. And then does it again. And again. And again.

Baby in a high chair with a spoon and a beaker as a representation of experimenting.

Older children display similar behavior. Over 75% of Grade 5 students will attempt to solve a nonsensical math problem that adults don’t even begin to try (Bransford, 1983).

An example of a nonsensical and unsolvable problem might be: There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a ship. How old is the captain?

Obviously, this kind of behaviour is beneficial: it prevents us from wasting time trying to solve a problem that has no solution. While math questions with unknowable variables are uncommon for most of us, we could, however, often benefit from tapping into the enthusiasm and flexible mindset young children bring to problem solving.

It is not necessary for you to do any of the other modules, before doing this one. This module can be explored in any relationship to the others. The Experimenter Module is designed to integrate elements of being a scholar, and curating while collaborating in a network, who teaches for learning, using technology.  Experimenting weaves through all of our work.

Let’s Experiment

You will be asked to explore a bit and then make your own choices as to which activities to engage with.

The Daily Extend

The Daily Extend site was created as part of the original Extend cohort Northern Capacity Building Initiative to provide a space for regular practice of spontaneous creativity through short challenges published every day.  They are designed to extend your online skills. Like stretches before you work out.

Image of a calendar with the heading "Daily Extend" and X's in the boxes representing the months.
These daily creative tasks follow in the footsteps of The DS106 Daily Create. As described on the The Daily Create (TDC) website:  “Each assignment should take no more than 15-20 minutes. There are no registrations, no prizes, just a community of people producing art daily. Developed as part of the ds106 open course on digital storytelling, TDC is open to anyone who wants a regular dose of creative exercises (and is more fun than jumping jacks, pushups, and P90X)”.
See a small curation of past Daily Extends for you to choose from on the next page.

Extend Activity – Do It Daily

to the top flickr photo by frankieleon shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Let’s experiment with some of the Daily Extend activities.

Review sample ones below at links (e.g. #oext1) to get a full description of the activity and to see some of the creative responses. We also will be publishing one new one every day at the Daily Extend site the first week of this module. If you want to know when there is a new one, follow @ontarioextend on twitter.

Suggested/Curated Daily Extends

Try at least 3 of these (or any) Daily Extends.  If you cannot choose, we can offer one picked for you at random. The point here is not to do something that is the easiest, but maybe the opposite- look for ones that will make you experiment and extend your abilities.

Each one has instructions for how to respond in twitter- just make sure your tweets include @ontarioextend AND the special hashtag for each one, e.g. #oext222.

This will ensure that your response is added to the Daily Extend as an example. Maybe competition is an incentive? We have a leaderboard that has been tracking all responses since we started publishing Daily Extends from the mOOC. Note: If you are not on twitter or do not want to use it, you can respond at the bottom of each one as a comment. 

1. #oext1  Can you think of an Everyday Metaphor for Extending?

We have chosen the verb extend as a metaphor for this project. What does it mean to you? Sure, you can look up definitions, but for our first Daily exercise, we ask you to look around your home or office for an object that allows you to extend the capabilities of a task or utility. Show it in a photo.

2.  #oext2 Share Something Interesting from OpenCulture.com

Open Culture features video, audio, and links to content that celebrates openness or features famous figures or historical moments. See if you can find something relevant to your interests or subject area, and tweet a link to it with as much content as you can fit in a tweet.

3. #oext 4  Google your own name.  Find the most interesting doppelganger.

Do you have a double in this world that you know of?   According to Wikipedia a doppelgänger is “is a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon” — can you find yours that bears your same name? If you do not get a match on your full name, try using just your first or last name. Or heck, just pick the closest result. Or maybe you can try https://findmydoppelganger.net/#oext6 How does my mobile phone see me?

4.  #oext16  How does my mobile phone see me?

We stare so intently at our devices, what do you think it sees of us from its perspective?  You know what people look like when they are busily engaged with their mobile phone. What does the phone see? Take a photo, or better yet shoot a short video, with a view from your phone’s perspective.

5. #oext13 Define Yourself in One or More Noun Project Icons.

Explore the Noun Project site for one or more icons that might represent you. Give credit to the source when you share the link.

6. #oext56 Book stack Title Mashup.

Make a lead in for a story by combining books where they are stacked and pushing their titles together.

7.  #oext62 What’s in it for me?

In the Teacher for Learning module there is an activity that suggests we consider how the students might answer the question “What’s In It For Me?” or WIIFM, if acronyms are your thing.  Think of a skill, concept, idea, or process that you know in your heart of hearts that could be really beneficial to your students, and WIIFM it for us.

8. #oext64  Taylor Swift Curriculum Design.

Help us prepare a new program proposal for the Taylor Swift graduate certificate to OCQAS Credential Validation Service. We need to develop the course titles and short course descriptions.

9. #oext72  Slide Deck Beauty Pageant. Let’s have a slide deck beauty contest. Go through your slides and let us see your prettiest. Or, if you’re too shy, find a pretty one in this collection of about a million Open Education advocacy slide decks and nominate one from there. Just take a screenshot of the slide, perhaps with the Snipping Tool, and share it on Twitter.

10. #oext123  We are Collaborators.

Curation and collaboration are two parts of the Anatomy of a 21st Century Scholar (Simon Bates in 2014). Let’s see if we can make them ONE part today. Let’s work together (collaborate) to collect (curate) some videos on how and why to use various ed-tech tools

Again– all the past Daily Extend challenges can be accessed at this site.  And look- by participating via twitter your name will start rising up on the Leader Board.

Respond to the Daily Extends in Twitter (or by adding a comment at the bottom of each Daily Extend).


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Embrace Experimentation Copyright © by Giulia Forsythe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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