Space for Personal Learning

A drone camera, a Tokyo bookshop and a line from a Moncton newsletter combine in this post to support a discussion about personal learning spaces.

Each of these items found me rather than me finding them. The camera was an alert from my son, Sam. The bookshop came from recommendations on Medium and the Moncton news came courtesy of Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.

The camera is made by Lily and is described as the world’s first throw and shoot camera (a change from point and click). This is a short video about the camera

This takes GoPro-like capability to a new level, I think. Lily’s potential resonates with my interest in Peter Dowrick‘s work on video self-modelling. I can imagine many possibilities for combining the vision from the camera with personal learning opportunities.

In a 2012 paper, Peter observes:

The most rapid learning by humans can be achieved by mental simulations of future events, based on reconfigured preexisting component skills. These reconsiderations of learning from the future, emphasizing learning from oneself, have coincided with developments in neurocognitive theories of mirror neurons and mental time travel.

The versatility of the Lily camera offers learners different perspectives on learning spaces, that include physical locations and epistemological foundations.

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Tom Downey has written about the Tsutaya store, in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo … “ a place where browsing, reading, and buying books and magazines is a popular and pleasurable experience”. His post is illustrated with some lavish pictures of the store.

He notes:

    • “The T-Site store has done more than just amass a formidable collection of books and magazines: it has also figured out how to celebrate the physicality of writing and reading.”
    • “On one of my trips to Tsutaya, I asked a clerk a question about a food periodical and was referred to the “Food Book Concierge.” His comprehensive knowledge of the entire food collection, both books and back issues of magazines, reminded me of the librarians of my childhood, who served as intellectual mentors to an annoyingly curious kid.”
    • “Paging through the magazines sold here helped me understand more about why Japan still venerates print. The magazine section — designed to display not just current, but also back issues — stretches through three of the store’s interconnected buildings, as well as spreading out across several tables, and is almost always mobbed.”
    • “Though I appreciate the way in which digital culture can direct me towards what I might like — targeted ads notwithstanding — it’s much more satisfying, here, simply to roam. Tsutaya’s layout creates the possibility of fortuitous encounters that you would never have planned or anticipated.”

Tom’s thick description of the store as a personal experience positioned me to enjoy the nuance of Stephen Downes’ discussion of Malcolm Brown, Joanne Dehoney and Nancy Millichap’s (2015) paper on The Next Generation Learning Environment. Stephen suggests that discussions of these environments should look carefully at the individual, their community, their specific learning context and how these are nourished by cooperation.

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I was delighted to learn that the Tsutaya store uses concierges in each section of the store. Tom wrote of his encounter with one of these concierges:

speaking with Tsutaya’s expert reminded me just how important — and enjoyable — it is to add a human perspective. He made connections between ideas I mentioned and stories he’d read in older periodicals (which the store still stocked). And he immediately grasped a concept, about a certain kind of innovation in Japanese cuisine, that had been difficult to define through online searches. Yes, he used his computer to flesh out these ideas, and to locate sources; but I would never have found them without his input.

His observations took me back to Alan Levine’s discussion of structured exposure and pedagogical technologists. They reminded me too of Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John Smith’s (2009) thoughts on stewardship in a digital age.

I am passionate about the opportunities afforded by open access digital resources. I am passionate too about the role people play in facilitating discussion of these resources.

The combination of both in spaces like the Tsutaya store make this a very powerful experience. In recent years I have worked only in public spaces. My experiences in these spaces has encouraged me to think about being a better concierge in sustainable spaces for personal learning.

I wonder what I might learn from a Lily view of my time in these spaces.

Photo Credits

The Tsutaya Experience (Indesignlive Singapore)

Dharavi (Ishan Khosla, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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