Monday, July 27, 2015

My take on the #Blimage Challenge: Learning is A-Mazing!

I jumped into the #blimage challenge. Although no one challenged me to it, it was too much fun to ignore! 

#Blimage means 'Blog' and 'Image'. It all started with one tweet and has since become so much more. The co-conspirators are Steve Wheeler  (@timbuckteeth), Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63).

Steve Wheeler explains the #Blimage Challenge this way:
“You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.”
My inspiration for this post came from the image shared by Clark Quinn in his response to the #blimage challenge where he wrote about how learning can flourish in the right culture.

Image shared by Clark Quinn 
When I looked at this image, it spoke to me instantly. 

What is a maze? an intricate network of winding pathways with one or more blind alleys and is usually designed as a puzzle...but this also defines what learning means to me and how I think about learning experiences. 

Mazes and learning have a much more deeper connection. Infact, it was after building a maze that Tolmon and Honzik were able to discover latent learning in rats and brought forward the cognitive view of learningAlso, learning and mazes is not limited to rats. Honey bees have been known to navigate different types of mazes and learn the navigation structure to improve their performance. For us humans, mazes and labyrinths have a deep history that cuts across various subjects including architecture, mythology, astrology, sociology, psychology and many other subjects. The history of mazes goes all the way back to the 5th century BC when the first maze was discovered, the Egyptian Labyrinth, by Herodotus, a Greek traveler and writer. 

But what makes this image interesting to me is the similarity between mazes and learning - or atleast the way I see it.

1) Multiple Paths - There are always many paths to learning. Some are obvious and others are waiting to be discovered. Some are short, others are long winding. While it looks predictable, more often than not it can be quite erratic. There are unexpected twists and turns in the journey of trying to solve a maze just like there are serendipitous learning moments in our own personal journeys.
2) Structure and Chaos - Paths, walls and hedges provide a structure to the maze. It may seem chaotic, but there is a plan and there is a well-thought out design underlying the construction of the maze. In the absence of the hedges or walls, it is tough to solve a maze. Similarly, it is tough to learn anything in vacuum. A learning goal and good instructional design provides the necessary structure and motivation and a way forward to continue. Learning may seem chaotic but underneath the layers, there is usually a solid design that provides the necessary structure. 
3) Mix of Challenge and Fun - Sometimes a maze can be fun and at other times it can be very challenging and deeply reflective. There are deep holes to avoid and mental blocks to leap over. Learning is pretty much the same. 
4) Learning by Doing - In a maze, the act of doing something and taking a step is, in itself, is a cause for learning. Trial and error is the only way to crack the maze and solve the puzzle. Similarly, one cannot learn by staying at the edge of the scenario and the possible experience. One needs to get in there, get the hands dirty, learn by doing and by making mistakes.
5) Personal Accountability - Just like a maze has to be traveled and experienced individually, like it shows in this image, so does a learning journey. One has to feel responsible and take accountability for one's own learning. Others can offer tips and share their stories but one has to walk the maze independently.
6) Journey Matters More than the Destination - Nothing exemplifies 
this better than a maze. If it was all about simply solving the puzzle, one would jump the hedges and break the walls. But anyone who has stepped into a maze knows better. The journey of walking through the maze is far more important and eventful than reaching the end. Learning is pretty much the same. It is an ongoing journey to self discovery.

Learning is A-mazing and this #blimage challenge just reinforced that one more time :)
Hope you enjoyed this post. I certainly had fun writing it! 

For those who are interested, Simon has created a pinterest page as a way to organize all the images that have been used in the #blimage challenge and you can explore the blog posts inspired by the images. David Kelly has curated the same information but tagged as an alphabetical list of blog posts by authors. Steve is also collating all posts tagged as #blimage.


  1. Taruna - Great picture to use. What speaks to me is the multiple paths. You just never know what you find behind a barrier. More times that not you end up in an area that better than you anticipated. Isn't that fun? Learning is all about discovery and the excitement you feel as you are going through the maze, and the happy dance moment of completion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I may have to bank that image for my own future post!

    1. Thanks Shannon for reading the post and for your comment. The credit for the picture goes to Clark but it spoke to me instantly! I have always enjoyed mazes especially the ones where you have to physically walk to solve it. To me, learning is exactly like that. You have to walk your own path and even though you are surrounded by many choices, you have to pick a path for yourself. But just like mazes, if that path does not work out as you thought, there is always another path waiting to be explored! It is so much fun.