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Do Geeks Learn Differently? (cross posted from my blog)

At the end of Educampakl I asked the question do geeks learn differently? I thought this would be an excellent topic to explore for the Virtual Learning Network's November e-learningchallenge to answer the question:

"What kinds of skills/knowledge/attitudes do teachers – and students – need if we are going to use technology effectively?

Geeks multitask
A geek will think nothing of sending you an instant message even if you happen to be sitting next to them. Non-geeks find it a bit weird or downright rude for someone to whip out their device in the middle of an important meeting or conversation and start checking their twitter feeds. However geeks think their conversations partners shouldn't be limited to the people in the room.

Geeks have imaginary friends
Whether on facebook, bulletin boards, twitter or blogs geeks think nothing of spending the day interacting with people they've never met. In fact if you ask a geek who their best friends are they are more likely to give you twitter handles as names. The bonus of imaginary friends is that geeks always have people on hand to help them with their learning not to mention free tour guides sprinkled across the globe.

Geeks take risks

Geek might be chic but being early adopters of anything can also make you might unpopular. Gallielo had trouble getting invites to cocktail parties after declaring the world was round. Likewise geeks tend to engage in stuff like blogging which some people think is weird.

Geeks are curious
Geeks love to play with new gadgets and the internet is fill of all these clicky links that take you to different people and places. Because of this curiosity geeks don't need large content-filled lectures just in time learning suits our needs far better.

Geeks love to share
Whether by blog, tweet or facebook update geeks love to tell the world what we are reading, writing and thinking about. Geeks are content creators rather than just consumers.

Geeks are superb information navigators
Contrary to popular opinion geeks don't necessarily spend much more time on screen than non-geeks. But they work smarter when they are online. They'll have RSS feeds, twitter PLNs which means that they don't find relevant information, the information finds them.

Geeks come together for collaboration rather than content
Those big fancy conferences with important people are all fine and dandy but what geeks really come together for is the connection with others. Chances are a geek will have googled you and read your twitter feed before you've met. But this means the quality of our interaction is better when we do meet face to face.

So there you have it. Geeks aren't that different from normal people. Think of them as a Facebook Friend you haven't met.



  • Suzie Vesper

    Nicely written!  I can definitely recognise some of those geekish qualities though I am not sure that I can say I spend less time in front of a screen as non-geeks :-)  Thanks for putting a smile on my face at the end of an evening (spent in front of a two screens simultaneously).

  • Michael Fawcett

    How did we happen? How did we get like this?  Who were the geeks of 50 years ago?  Were there any? 

  • Enabling e-Learning

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Stephanie:-) I like the way you have touched lightly on the idea of being open to new ideas - and translated that into a capacity for learning. The openness, flexibility and inquiring mind of the self-driven learner is the key theme here. The question is: how do we foster this in ourselves - and make space and opportunity for students to develop it in themselves too?

    I like Michael's question - weirdly, Galileo sprang to mind! But anyone with a propensity for asking questions, following their passions, having independence of mind to create, connect, explore might be the geeks of yesteryear:-)...

  • Tania

    Very well written Stephanie and lots of think aboutCool  I truly believe that 'geeks' do learn differently and I guess have to admit that I could be a 'geek'!  I really like how you write about not spending any more time in front of screens but using that time wisely:-)  I often get asked how long I spend on my computer/internet etc and I think people are shocked when they realise I am actually quite normal and do run/bike/swim/beach and have a life as wellLaughing  I also LOVE when I am surrounded by like-minded people and can freely text/pxt/tweet and generally multi-task between online and face to face without feeling guilty!

  • Mike Wilson

    I would like to add that as much as they would hate to admit it our current students are mostly in the above "geek" category. Geeks have become mainstream. What are the non-geeks called now? Computer illiterate?