For our post this week Caroline and I set out to become ‘masters of Tai Chi’ through the digital medium. Similar to the ‘qi ’– (the life energy) that flows in all of us our Google master produced close to 1.7 billion hits. Included in the miscellany were 174,000,000 million videos for us to consume without ever leaving the comfort of our couch. As Weller (2011) suggested, “when the goods become digital and available online then scarcity disappears (p.224).
Sophisticated algorithms provided Caroline class locations and times to local chapters in Lindsay, Ontario and although I was travelling there was no shortage of possibilities in either Keflavik or Rotterdam. An additional click or two led to information related to various schools to attend, masters available to learn from, resources to become qualified through home study, instructor accreditation and teaching materials – so much material that we could start our very own studio. Worksheets, how to wikies and dummy guides urged us to take the first step. Retrospectively, with the amount of information available for consumption on Tai Chi it became apparent that [our] own time and attention were the key scarce resources (Weller, 2011, pg. 225).
Tai Chi is also known as Chinese Boxing or Supreme Ultimate Boxing because of its gentle, easy movements. Although, historically it is a martial arts discipline, Tai Chi focuses on deep breathing, relaxation and the use of slow repetitive movements. Today, Tai Chi is used as a form of exercise or meditation. There are five types of Tai Chi that are practiced today:
Yang Style – emphasizes slow, even gentle and large movements; Chen Style – it alternates between fast and slow movements and includes jumping and stomping; Wu/Hao Style – it is a combination of the above two styles and the movements are done is with smaller slow movements and high posture; Wu Style – this style incorporates hand form, pushing hands and weapons training; and Sun Style – includes smooth flowing movements that eliminate the more rigorous physical movements; it is considered extra gentle and is used for therapy.
Regardless of the style of Tai Chi, the fundamental principles of this exercise/meditation include the mind and body integration, control of movements and generating mindfulness, serenity and internal energy. Through these strength building exercises the upper and lower body core are strengthened which improves the functioning of the heart, lungs and muscle groups. Tai Chi movements improve balance, agility as well as flexibility. In addition, this form of exercise/meditation is known to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, improve mood, joint pain and overall well-being in adults.
The purpose of the activity was to see if we would be comfortable to teach Tai Chi after navigating through the resources on the net. With the abundance of information at the students and instructional designer’s fingertips it becomes difficult to know what information is important or relevant and how accurate the information is. The information around Tai Chi was endless. Our approaches to teaching and learning were developed many years ago; in a time when we were comfortable with moderate scarcity, [and now] we are challenged with excessive abundance (Weller, 2011, pg. 231). The instructional designer is now less focussed on the development of specific learning materials and more focussed on the selection, aggregation and interpretation of existing material (Weller, 2011, pg. 229). The interpretation of existing materials can be linked to connectivism theory developed by George Siemens. Connectivism supports learners discovering and building connections between the information and creating paths of knowledge rather than learning facts and concepts. These paths of knowledge may be produced from databases, devices and the learner’s community. (Anderson, 2016, pg. 63). Not only are we challenged with an abundance of information to research, we are further challenged with providing as many opportunities as possible for learners to create their own pathways to learning.
So, in the end for us the material was there BUT we would have to connect with the material by engaging in Tai Chi and gaining the ‘in situ’ experience before undertaking instruction on Tai Chi. We certainly are entering a new age of discovery.
Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press..
Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223–236.