In the early days of COVID when countries all around the world were going into lockdown, I was approached by Jane Hart (@C4LPT) who I have long since admired and respected in the field of learning to be part of her idea to create a website of curated learning activities for people in lockdown.
This website called Discover2Learn was not meant to be a site for people in the field of learning, training or education but one for everyone who is looking to go down rabbit warrens and discover their curious side by delving in all sorts of different experiences and activities online.
Naturally I jumped at the chance to be involved although I do say quite sheepishly that Jane has been providing far more interesting activities in the site. Too often, I go into it with good intentions to add some activities and instead spend hours in there discovering new ones for myself.
So what can you find on the site?
Already there’s over 250 eclectic activities that are categorised into the following:
- Virtual visits
- Virtual Events
Many of the links have been sourced, researched and collected by Jane and myself. Others, people have direct messaged me with their own suggestions.
I don’t know about you but I have found the period of isolation at home quite cathartic.
As someone who spends long hours at home and by myself during most days, the idea of entertaining myself with different activities and spending hours learning something new is something that I look forward to and indeed my own mental health and well being needs it.
The period of lock down although meant that I saved some hours not socialising with my friends and family; or going out with my husband in the evenings for dinner or the movies freed up considerable hours that were spent writing, playing, reading, creating, experimenting with new tools and apps and generally having a peaceful time.
In fact, it was a time I felt I was more open online (working out a lot more, showing and sharing more of my work, connecting with more people online). I know that many people used this time to go the opposite way and get off social media, close off accounts, stop sharing their work and retire behind closed communities but I found quite the opposite with me).
Initially, I was anxious and not sleeping well but over time I got used to the situation of being in the house 24/7 for months on end albeit a morning walk so my anxiety lessened.
What did help though was the Discover2Learn website. Why?
Well because it played to my curious nature. I could go into it every week and see what was loaded up.
I had some activities myself but most of the time I was detracted to explore – which then took me down new paths. I can’t believe that one day I spent 3 full hours on the site Wolfram Alpha alone. Add another few hours on an excellent blog site called Kottke where there were TONS of wonderful blog posts and videos and curiosities. These were suggestions from the Discover2Learn site! (so thank you Jane).
Some people say to me “but aren’t you just wasting your time going down rabbit holes? What’s the point of all these? “
Thing is, I can ask the same for you watching hours of Netflix. Or doing hours of exercise. Or scrolling for hours on your phone.
For me, I have the time, I make the time and I don’t always see it as wasting. If anything I think of it as a way for my mind to relax.
At work, I am thinking all the time, planning, co-ordinating, creating, problem solving. Sometimes the brain needs a break and it has to momentarily do something a bit different – get distracted in some way.
This is how I force my brain to get distracted – to be thinking less, to be less “inside my head”.
That’s why I don’t worry if through my work, I skip over to Twitter or LinkedIn and check the feed. To me, I’m not distracted – it’s just the brain wanting to take a short break before jumping back into work again. (It becomes a problem when you’re spending HOURS on the distraction and leaving productive work behind)…
So the Discover2Learn site for me provides a welcome distraction and one in which allows the brain to wander, to explore, to be curious which in turn, allows me to discover something new (which may be relevant or irrelevant – that’s inconsequential, without goals, without aim) but I know that one day, some how and some where, what I picked up will come in handy.
We need to allow ourselves these moments of distraction in our lives to go through exploratory rabbit warrens hunting for nothing in particular but knowing that the treasure will finally surface some time much later.