Tag Archives: blogging

TSL℠: Do You Speak It?

I’ve specialized in applying learning principles to print content in higher education for over twenty-five years. Of late, the major part of my focus has been working with technical people to transition from print texts to digital.

I’ve participated in conventions, webinars, courses, meetups, and anything that will get me quickly up to speed in the digital world. I couldn’t have started this blog without a class I took from Molly Ford at General Assembly. (Thank you, Molly.)  All of this re-education has contributed to my continuing success.

My most recent learning adventure involved signing up for the edX MOOC, Design and Development of Games taught by Eric Klopfer, MIT. I got through the first two weeks, overcoming significant challenges including learning Gameblox so I could create a simple game in which a sprite knocked out coins. I felt empowered.

Then I hit Week 3. After five hours of watching videos, reading assigned materials, and getting a review of narrative video games from Jordan, my daughter’s fiancé, my head was exploding. Still, I felt confident that in the morning I would be able to do the assignment: analyze a video game.

Only I couldn’t. Even after reviewing, Mitgutsch and Alvarado’s Serious Games Design Assessment Framework, a very much needed construct. When I tried to apply it to a game, my mind went blank. Why? Very simply, I was too new to the genre. I needed to spend a lot more time playing and experiencing games before I could analyze them.

Somehow this realization started me thinking about my parents who came to America after surviving the Holocaust.  I remembered their accented speech and that sometimes I had to translate official letters and documents for them. No matter how much they assimilated they would always be immigrants, non-native speakers.

Then it hit me, now I am an immigrant, an immigrant in technology land and like any immigrant, I have to learn and keep learning a new language, TSL℠(Technology As A Second Language℠). Does that make me a second-class citizen or in this case, a second-class digital educator? I remember a story Anna Frajlich, a Polish immigrant and poet, told me about an early ESL course she took:

Anna’s assignment was to write about a story she had read. She chose to discuss Franz Kafka’s The Trial in which the main character is referred to as Joseph K. or K. When she got her essay back, her ESL teacher had commented that her English was improving, but “in America, we write out last names.”

The ESL teacher’s ignorance is a reminder that even if something does not immediately make sense in the digital world, it can still make sense and add value. If we accept that learning from each other across cultures is positive, then learning across education generations is a no-brainer. Native speakers and non-native speakers dialoguing and collaborating can only strengthen the digital education landscape.