Serendipitous browsing and kangaroos

Another email subscription (free) which I receive is from the UK’s Future Lab which does research into innovations in education, particularly those relating to ICT in schools. It is worth signing up for as you don’t get lots of emails andthe quality is high. The latest addition has an interesting article on ‘Can serendipitous browsing lead to serendipitous learning?’ in which Jim Gritton explores the idea of how we might learn through casual browsing or surfing e.g. we find something really interesting when we are looking for something else. A new term to me is ‘wilfing’ which refers to people who surf for fun and ‘wilf’ is ‘(what) was I looking for?’ but I’m sure that no teacher librarian would ever have time for such things. Gritton quotes one author as stating that ‘It is far, far easier to sit down in front of your browser and stumble across something completely brilliant but surprising than it is walking through a library looking at the spines of books’ – but I’m not convinced of that. Have a read of the article and think about your own surfing and maybe your students’ use of the web.

For instance, if your students were looking for information kangaroos, like the ones pictured here that I met on a walk in our rural campus here at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, would there be serendipitous learning? Well, if they went to the ABC Schools TV , they would learn that kangaroos keep cool by various methods e.g. ‘They have a spit bath by licking their arms’ although you might have to encourage your students not to try this method for themselves!

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