A Journey Through Technology

Week 4: What does the way you play have to do with embracing change and how does this impact you as a professional?

on February 11, 2017

I have never been good at embracing change. When I find a routine that works, I tend to stick to it as long as I can, because as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. My love of routines easily explains the way I approach most games: methodically. I like to have a method to whatever I play. I guess this could be interpreted as a strategy, depending on  the game. For example, when I play Settlers of Catan (http://www.catan.com), I follow pretty much the same strategy each time I play: build the longest road (at least five roads connected together), then try to build developments and cities to win the game. However, this is not always the correct strategy for me to win. I would say my success-rate with this strategy is probably less than 50%. I don’t change the way I play the game because I am comfortable with that strategy and it doesn’t require me to take any risks or try new things. I would say avoiding risks and not trying new things very accurately sums up the way I play games.

Last semester in my Gamification class, I learned about the four Bartle players types: killer, achiever, explorer, and socializer. (Bartle, 1996) After taking a few online tests to see which player type fit me best, I found that I was an explorer. Below is Bartle’s description of an explorer:

Explorers are interested in having the game surprise them, ie. in INTERACTING with the WORLD. It’s the sense of wonder which the virtual world imbues that they crave for; other players add depth to the game, but they aren’t essential components of it, except perhaps as sources of new areas to visit. Scoring points all the time is a worthless occupation, because it defies the very open-endedness that makes a world live and breathe. Most accomplished explorers could easily rack up sufficient points to reach the top, but such one-dimensional behaviour is the sign of a limited intellect. (Bartle, 1996)

This explanation does not describe every aspect of my play-style, but it does explain a lot of how I play most games. The part about other players not being essential components really stands out to me because I am not a fan of playing multiplayer video games whatsoever. What I find fascinating about reading this today is that even though I’m explorer when it comes to games, I am not so good at trying new things or easily adapting to change.

In the reading this week from A New Culture of Learning, the authors tell us that “change forces us to learn differently.” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Kindle Location 461) I think this the main reason that I struggle with embracing change. When I was in school, the majority of my learning was similar to how Thomas & Brown describe it at the beginning of chapter 3 as information being transferred from the teacher to the student. When I first started teaching, I always thought to myself “I was able to learn well by doing this, so why would I want to teach differently than this?”

In one of the other readings this week, Barnard et. al. referenced a study that was done on   a group of adults with no real technology background that were given a new touchscreen tablet to learn to use. The main thing that impacted the usability of this group was the avoidance of errors. (Barnard et. al., 2013, p.1719) This suggests that some adults focus on avoiding errors when trying new things, which is exactly why I struggle when trying new things. I hate making mistakes, even though I know that is how we truly learn how to do something correctly.

I found a TEDx talk video on YouTube this week that titled Embracing Change. In this, the speaker, Jason Clarke, shares seven reasons why people are resistant to change. The first reason he gives is that people are “just too full of emotions and fears to think”. I feel like this is the main reason that I have problems embracing change, with an emphasis on the fears.

But what does all of this have to do with me being a teacher? Why is it important for me to be able to adapt to change? In an article by Samantha Cole (2015), the final way that she describes how schools will change by 2020 is that teachers and educational institutions need to adapt to the changing world around us. I think the biggest roadblock that I face in embracing change is the fear of the unknown. I am afraid of not knowing all of the answers, or not knowing what will happen when I try something new in class. If I can overcome this hurdle, I know that I will have no issues embracing change in any part of my life, and that I might be able to reach my full potential as a teacher. Who knows, maybe I will also get better at Catan if I’m willing to take more risks and not be afraid of the unknown.

References

Barnard, Y., Bradley, M.D., Hodgson, F. and Lloyd, A.D. (2013) ‘Learning to use new technologies by older adults: Perceived difficulties, experimentation behaviour and usability’, Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), pp. 1715–1724. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.006.

Bartle, R. (1996) Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs. Available at: http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm (Accessed: 10 February 2017).

Cole, S. (2015) 5 big ways education will change by 2020. Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3043387/sector-forecasting/5-big-ways-education-will-change-by-2020 (Accessed: 11 February 2017).

Clarke, J. (2010) Embracing Change. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPhM8lxibSU (Accessed: 11 February 2017).

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition.

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8 responses to “Week 4: What does the way you play have to do with embracing change and how does this impact you as a professional?

  1. Tristan says:

    I have never been good at embracing change and tend to stick with what works as long as it works much like you. Change was never something I had to be introduced to throughout my years in school. I never had to change schools or get used to new teachers because I went to the same school from preschool until I graduated. Of course, we had new kids come each year that would change the dynamics of the classroom, but as a student that didn’t seem to affect me. College was the first real time I experienced any major change in my life and it took me my entire freshman year before I was comfortable with that change. Once I graduated college though, I went back to the school I graduated from and taught for six years, wasn’t brave enough to venture out on my own and experience more change. This past year I changed from private to public, small classes to large, and Alaska to New Mexico which has been a lot of change and I’m not dealing with that change well at all so I decided I’ll just move back to Alaska and my comfort zone.

    When I was first teaching, I was the same way, I figured the way I learned was what was best for my students. It took me longer than it should’ve to get away from this method and I still resort back to this method probably more often when I should when my students can’t be on task with the activities I have planned. With each year though I become more comfortable with making changes in the classroom, because I have learned the smaller the change the easier it is to incorporate and a lot of small changes over the years add up to a lot of change. I have a lot of fear about trying new things in class though, like spending the day on the computers, because I get nervous that students will just be off task. It seems like instead of taking risks and allowing my students to do something new, I tend to stick with the old. This year I have been adding more station activities into my classroom and that has been a stretch for me because I’m always nervous that kids aren’t going to care and go away with a wasted class period. But like your last line says about maybe getting better at Catan if you take risks and not be afraid, maybe I’ll be a better teacher if I take risks and try not to be afraid of what will happen but embrace what happens.

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    • Sarah K says:

      I also worry about kids being on task, but lately my fears have been about the technology not working, or students not getting anything useful from the activities I planned. At the beginning of this spring semester, I finally got a class set of Chromebooks to use! I want to be using them every day, but I’m afraid that students won’t actually learn anything with them. I know I just need to take some risks because that is the only way I will ever know if students will do well with anything else. I hope we can both start taking more risks and see good things come from them!

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  2. josies637blog says:

    Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing your play style with us. I would have to agree that I am also an explorer type. I don’t need the social or achiever status. I also liked the change forces to focus on learning differently. I get comfortable with doing something a certain way and it takes a lot of convincing for me sometimes to want to change.

    Josie

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    • Sarah K says:

      I think that this is an issue our students have sometimes as well. When I try to change things on them, they are always super resistant because we are all comfortable with what we know. I hope I can become convincing enough so my students will also take some risks and try something new.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sara Lucas says:

    I agree that it is easier to do what we feel comfortable with. I do like trying to change things up, but when I get busy I definitely revert back to what is comfortable. I definitely learned by lecture. It is not that exciting but I was able to learn that way so I agree that it is easy to think what works for me will work for others.

    I think everyone has a fear of the unknown. We just don’t know what to expect so how can we prepare for it. For me I just try to live in the moment. I plan a week at a time, because that is what is required at my school. I know some teachers who plan for a month. I just don’t know how they do it because I evaluate at the end of the week and sometimes this radically changes what I will do the next week. I think this might be the biggest way to incorporate change. You have to leave room for it. I know if I had plans for a month I would not want to change because that would require more work for me.

    Thanks for the great post! It really made me think about how people embrace change.

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    • Sarah K says:

      Sometimes I think I get so caught up in my fear of the unknown that I forget that students also have that fear, probably even more than I do. I’m lucky if I plan more than two days in advance! When I was student teaching I was required to plan 2+ weeks in advance and it was so difficult to adjust things. By planning only a few days at a time it leaves me some wiggle room and helps me figure out what to do next and how much time we can spend on it. We have a modified block (block schedule 3/5 days a week), so that always throws a wrench into the plans, too.

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  4. I think I may be similar to you with how I embrace change. I have such a similar strategy in Catan and I hardly ever change it. When I moved to Sitka, a few of my friends introduced me to the Myers Briggs test for personality types. There are 4 different categories with two personalities each. Extrovert/introvert, sensing/intuition, feeler/thinker, and perceiver/judger. Initially, I thought I was definitiely a thinker, I like math and I like to think that I am logical. The more I talked about these personality types, however, I learned that I am a feeler. I am far more emotional than I am logical at times. Thinking about this in the area of change, fear can get the better of me, so I resist it at times. I think this is good to recognize about ourselves, to put our emotions aside and embrace change to better ourselves!

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    • Sarah K says:

      I’ve actually taken the Meyer Briggs test before, and I think I tested as an ENFJ, which is so weird to me because I am such an introvert! I wonder how I what my results would be today? I might have to retest to see. I can definitely get emotional in the classroom, especially when things don’t go as planned. You have a good point about putting our emotions aside. I find it so hard for me to do that sometimes, but I bet if I could focus more on that I would be better at embracing change.

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