Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

April 19, 2009

Learning on Purpose

Filed under: Uncategorized — Donna DesRoches @ 7:38 pm

Gary passed on this challenge a while back “What was the last thing you really learned on purpose? I don’t mean something that you learned in passing. I mean something you went out of your way to find out about. Not because you had to but because you wanted to.” …and I have been thinking about it ever since.

I must admit that I find it difficult to remember the last time that I deliberately learned something that I did not have to learn. I have learned many things in passing because I have several interests – primarily in education, school libraries and technology –thinkerwithgirl1 for which I have structured my learning environment and my personal learning network. I am constantly reading, viewing, listening and following links that support these interests.

I do remember several learning challenges the most recent of which was creating school websites using Drupal. I had absolutely no reference for the application and no individuals nearby to ask for advice. I did however find the advice, support and direction I needed from the web. My learning process was very similar to that described by Joan Vinall Cox in her post, An Autodidact is Social.

At the moment I am not deeply involved in activities outside of the world of education that spur learning. When I was the president of the Board for Save the Children Canada I was constantly learning about Board management and international development. When I was an ardent traveler I immersed myself in learning about the places in which I planned to travel and as a young runner I immersed myself in fitness lore and technique. Now, however, I am content with armchair traveling and enjoying turning the pages of travel books such as Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux.

I am confident in my capacity as a learner, both from experience and from growing up in a family of learners. I know that when ready to move into another unfamiliar area I will anticipate and be prepared to deal with the messiness, the uncertainty and the thrill of the learning process.




  1. Wouldn’t your job description (I believe you are the first person in the post) would encompass learning almost everything on purpose????

    Comment by Patricia Cone — April 19, 2009 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

    • Yes – true – but I didn’t purposefully plan to become so involved in Web 2.0 – it just happened. Then I used it to build a learning environment that would keep new things coming to me – so then the learning has happened in passing….or did it? hmmm….you’ve got me thinking again!

      Comment by Donna DesRoches — April 19, 2009 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  2. Purposeful or not Donna you have learned how to keep on learning and as you indicate in your post you have built an environment to ensure that you keep on learning. Student and teacher learners will thrive if we help them to build these kinds of learning environments. The school library can be the catalyst by designing a Virtual Learning Commons for their schools that embraces multi-way collaborations.

    Comment by Carol Koechlin — April 20, 2009 @ 3:39 am | Reply

  3. You may not have started learning about Web 2.0 on purpose but I sure bet that you delved in deeper because you wanted to (not because you had to). As far as I am concerned anything that you go out of your way to research you are doing on purpose.

    Isn’t it great to have job where you get fired up about learning about job related things.

    Comment by Real Gary Ball — April 20, 2009 @ 5:15 am | Reply

  4. Hi Donna,
    Have you seen Jane Hart’s site? I’m sending you the link where she mentions me (no, not an ego thing, of couse not ;-> ) She has an amazing collection of social learning resources.

    Comment by joanvinallcox — April 20, 2009 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

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