Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’
Originally published at http://blog.iat.com/2015/09/30/a-perfect-storm-for-maker-education/
Perfect Storm: an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically. The term This term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.
The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers, a convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise. (Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future)
A movement made up of hobbyists, tinkerers, crafters and innovators is getting ready to change what you thought you knew about the American economy. They’re teaching a new generation how to repair rather than replace, and if what they’re looking for is not available, to invent it. They call themselves “makers,” and they will figure out how to build whatever you can imagine. (The Maker Movement Is About the Economy, Stupid)
There currently exists the conditions for a perfect storm for maker education due to:
- The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement
- Focus on STEM and STEAM Education
- Information Access and Information Abundance
- Affordable Maker Technologies
- Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture
- Open Source Resources
The Do It Yourself (DIY) Movement
Do It Yourself, or DIY, is a term that is used by various communities of practice that focus on people creating things for themselves without the aid of a paid professional. embers of these subcultures strive to blur the lines between creator and consumer by constructing a social network that ties users and makers close together. The phrase Do It Yourself along with its acronym is also commonly used where a layman endeavors to complete a project without the physical aid of a paid professional.
What this means for young people is that they are growing up in DIY cultures, where they have role models who engage in DIY and where they have 24-7 access to information and technological resources. For example, younger makers can turn to DIY, a safe online community for kids to discover and learn new skills. Older makers can use Make: DIY Projects for inspiration, ideas, and how-tos.
Focus on STEM and STEAM Education
One of President Obama’s initiatives has been a call to action for making STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education a priority in the United States. He emphasized the need to broaden participation to those groups who typically do not engage in STEM initiatives:
President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a Nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation—we cannot maintain that stream of new and different ideas—if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities. (Educate to Innovate)
Some professionals and practitioners are expanding STEM education to include the arts which translates in STEAM education.
In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century. (STEM to STEAM)
Maker education can be a gateway to STEM involvement by students who may not have had interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines in the past.
At a time when many people are asking how we can get more students interested in STEM fields, we are hearing from teachers who have found making to be a great way to get students excited and engaged in their classrooms. We are seeing making occurring in subject classes such as math or science — in classes specifically listed as maker classes — and in a variety of less formal settings such as clubs and study halls. Many of these projects incorporate a variety of STEM topics. Students working on designing and building furniture for their classroom use algebra and geometry to figure out the dimensions. E-textiles and soft circuitry, in which circuits are sewn using conductive thread or fabric, have shown to be an engaging way to teach electronics and programming, especially for young women. The possibilities for ways to incorporate making into the school day are endless, and it is exciting to see what teachers have been developing and sharing. (Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”)
Information Access and Abundance
We are living in one of the most exciting times in the history of humankind. Our world in now filled with information abundance, surplus, and access. The result is synergy whereby the human mind plus our current technologies far exceed the sum of these individual parts. We have technologies to access any type of information and to create products that match the pictures and voices in our minds; and we can use technology to get the assistance and feedback from folks around the globe. (Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education)
Anyone with access to the Internet has access to all kinds of information, resources, and tutorials. Young people are used to going online to find information and how-to tutorials via YouTube, Wikipedia, and their social networks. Young makers have taken advantage of this easy and free access information to make valuable contributions to our world. For example, Jack Andraka, who as a high school sophomore, discovered a test for pancreatic cancer through reading science research he found online. Katherine Wu, a ninth-grader, invented “the driver’s companion,” a device that could monitor drivers’ blinks and brain waves to see if they were in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. She studied neuroscience to find out how to identify signs of sleepiness, took an online course to learn how to create the computer code that would recognize those signs. (Local teens’ inventions impress scientists)
Affordable Maker Technologies
Accessibility of affordable maker technologies (e.g., 3D Printers, DIY computer devices) is due, in part to the democratization of these technologies.
When something is democratized it means that it is accessible to everyone. When used in the context of the maker movement, ‘democratization’ refers to the decreasing cost of the tools and technologies credited with spurring the movement. The cost of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, and 3D scanners has dramatically decreased over the past five years. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)
Today, the availability of affordable constructive technology and the ability to share online has fueled the latest evolutionary spurt in this facet of human development. New tools that enable hands-on learning — 3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computers, e-textiles, “smart” materials and new programming languages — are giving individuals the power to invent. (The maker movement: A learning revolution)
Maker technologies such as Makey-Makey, littleBits, Arduinos, 3D Printers, and robotics kits provide opportunities for learners to experiment and invent for themselves. They are accessible and usable by a wide range of skill and age levels; and even though there is a cost attached to them, they are more accessible to those with less financial means than similar technologies had been in the past. There does, though, need to be a continued dialogue and proactive efforts to create a maker culture of accessibility.
If the rise of the maker movement and these new tools for democratized production are going to create opportunity, how do we ensure that all people truly have access and training? It is essential to understand and address the social structures and identity categories that are inherent in the maker movement before the tools of production that play such a prominent role are truly democratized. (Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement)
If one of the characteristics of the maker movement is democratization of related tools, software, and techniques, then efforts need to focus on the education institutions that serve children (school, libraries, museums, after-school programs) especially underrepresented and underserved children. We need to insure that there is little or no gap between those of means and those with little means when it comes to maker education. Dr. David A. Williams (SVP of Program, Training & Youth Development at the Boys and Girls Club of America) has tackled this head-on at BGCA (Tackling the Digital Divide & Closing the Opportunity Gap in STEM Education).
Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture
The maker movement and makerspaces are driven by principles of crowdsourcing and participatory cultures. Makers, as a group, freely share their makes so others can replicate and/or improve upon them.
Many maker movement initiatives are rooted in the idea of a “Participatory Culture,” a term coined by American media scholar Henry Jenkins. Henry Jenkins recognizes the key elements of a participatory culture to include low barriers to expression and engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices. (Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School By Laura Fleming)
And as Dale Dougherty ( , considered by many as the father of the maker movement, stated in the Maker Mindset:
The Maker Movement is spurred by [….] the increasing participation of all kinds of people in interconnected communities, defined by interests and skills online as well as hyper-local efforts to convene those who share common goals. (Dougherty, The Maker Mindset, 2013)
Whenever you design a tool that allows people to be creative, there are people who will start to be creative with the tool. Once we made that available, people are now responding and creating. So it’s not so much that we’ve become a world of people who do hardware hacking, but, I guess, a world where people are becoming more involved in the creation of products. (Arduino’s Massimo Banzi: How We Helped Make The Maker Movement)
Related to crowdsourcing is crowdfunding which, as it implies, is asking the public to fund some worthwhile causes. Crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose can help educators get maker materials for their classrooms, increasing the chances that underfunded classrooms can get the tools and materials related to the maker movement.
Open Source Resources
Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.
Makers often share their “makes” so other can reproduce them and/or improve upon them. For example, Markerbot’s Thingiverse is probably one of the biggest online repositories of open source 3D designs. A quick perusal of the website shows designs everything from prosthetic devices to footwear to toys.
The sharing culture that marks the maker movement carries over into maker technology companies in that they often make their software and hardware open source. Popular educational maker hardware such as Arduinos and lillteBits are open source:
Open-source hardware shares much of the principles and approach of free and open-source software. In particular, we believe that people should be able to study our hardware to understand how it works, make changes to it, and share those changes. To facilitate this, we release all of the original design files (Eagle CAD) for the Arduino hardware. These files are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, which allows for both personal and commercial derivative works, as long as they credit Arduino and release their designs under the same license. (Arduinos FAQ)
littleBits has the following to say about developing open source hardware:
Open Source Hardware means that we make the design files available for the circuit designs in our modules pursuant to the CERN Open Hardware License Version 1.2. It makes sense for us because littleBits products are a teaching tool: sharing our designs allows for the possibility of teaching how these circuit designs work down to a circuit level. (What does Open Source mean?)
The bottom line is that educators both in formal and informal settings would be foolish not to take advantage of this perfect storm of maker education resources, tools, and strategies that currently exist.
As part of a graduate course in Social Network Learning, I ask students to create a non-linguistical representation. Here is the description of this assignment:
The intent of this module is to assist you in developing a personalized and deep understanding of the concepts of this unit – the concepts that are core to using social networking as a learning venue. Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks, create one or a combination of the following to demonstrate your understanding of these concepts: a slide show or Glog of images, an audio cast of sounds, a video of sights, a series of hand drawn and scanned pictures, a mindmap of images, a mathematical formula, a periodic chart of concepts, or another form of nonlinguistic symbols. Your product should contain the major elements discussed in this module: CoPs, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks. These are connected yet different concepts. As such they should be portrayed as separate, yet connected elements. In other words, you should use at least one symbol per concept and somehow show how they are related and connected
This assignment supports several of my beliefs about what represents “good” education:
- Learners should be producing as much as consuming content.
- Learners (of all ages) should be adding value and contributions to knowledge bases.
- Learners should be given opportunities to express their unique voices.
- Learners should be given opportunities to be creative and innovative.
- Learners should be asked to synthesize and analyze content in unique ways tapping into higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
- Using on-linguistical representations support visual thinking skills.
Here are some samples from this term.
A Powtoons Animation
A Musical Expression
Communities of Practice are demonstrated by multiple instruments playing a major scale. All the musicians share the same passion (the scale). At first the musicians are out of sync but as they continue to work together and learn more the music begins to come together. By the end they are all playing together (Wenger, n.d.). I felt this was a good representation of how learning can be facilitated through Communities of Practice.
Personal Learning Networks are demonstrated through the use of drum beats. It starts with just one beat and slowly more and more beats are layered on top making the music (the learning) grow. The use of all drums represents the similar interest shared by people in a PLN and the variations in the beats represent how each person brings a unique perspective to the learning environment (Kharbach, 2012).
Connectivism is demonstrated by different instruments slowly being layered on top of each other. As the music becomes stronger it’s representing how learning can grow by connecting with others around the world through web 2.0 (“Connectivism”, n.d.). It also shows how learning with others is more effective than learning alone. (Creative Expression: CoPs, PLNs, and Connectivisim)
A Color Wheel – Of Sorts
I created this graphic of concentric and overlapping color sections with faint lines spreading out from the center of the image. It looks a bit like a colorful radar screen and I thought that was a good analogy to what we are learning in this course – how to develop an internal radar for new ideas and how to evaluate and share information through social media and knowledge networks.
I wanted to represent this idea with an image that could show a meta-view of connection levels and the varying types of intensity and interaction that can be found in each level. The graphic appears concentric but information and connections can actually move in either direction – between the PLNs and CoPs as well as the specialized nodes and fringe connections at the outer edges. The variety and intensity of colors represent the diversity needed at each level for learning and knowledge creation. Color tint and opacity also represents the blending of new ideas and information to create original digital content in both the PLN and CoPs levels.
The graphic contains layers of browns orange, tan and green colors – these are connections with more intense and dynamic interactions happening in the PLN and CoPs layers. Thus, the PLN area at the center of it all, represents a trusted “inner circle” of practitioners that know each other’s skills and areas of expertise well. Diversity, to a certain extent, is important in a PLN, but not so much that strong bonds and bridges can’t be built between areas of expertise and content. The relatively solid color of center area in the graphic represents this consistency dynamic found in productive PLNs.
As the colors layer and blend, they create new colors, tints or shades that represent skillful intent of CoPs. The analogous color blends and variations in the CoPs area are also meant to be reflective of Wenger’s idea that learning is not just for the individuals within a CoP, but also for the community as a whole – this results in enhanced practices and a more effective CoP overall.
There are several distinct slices in the graphic where it appears that a member of the inner PLN could bypass the CoPs all together and venture out to the less focused and intense (teal blue) connections that are on the fringe of the image (and the fringe of our areas of work or interest). I wanted to be sure that I somehow represented a healthy practice of seeking out new and seemingly unrelated content (beyond our favored PLNs and CoPs) that could be brought back to the group, evaluated and integrated if found useful. This would represent the pure exploration of that outer space of knowledge connections and sources with no other goal than to find interesting things to bring back and share or discard as desired.(http://edtech.reneephoenix.com/creative_express/)
Postcards and Molecules
I feel as though these ideas work as a set of nesting bowls, each one a bit larger than the next. I see the PLN as the smallest unit of knowledge sharing since it is based on the individual and their learning interests (Lalande, 2012; Trust, 2012). The next largest unit is the CoP as it is based on a membership of interested shareholders working towards the same endeavor (Smith, 2010). Each CoP member brings their own PLN along with them resulting in a much larger set of networks and knowledge connections. Connectivism is the theory that consolidates all of the ideas. It is the framework or mechanism that describes the way in which networks function and knowledge is shared or acquired within a PLN or CoP.
As a means of showing these concepts are connected, I maintained the structure of each postcard. Likewise, there are images in each postcard that are similar to show the relationship. For example, both the PLN and connectivism postcards feature social media references. Likewise, the CoPs and connectivism postcard have images depicting groups of people.
There is an image at the bottom center of each postcard that relates to this topic. The PLN postcard features a depiction of an atom. The CoPs postcard shows a molecule and the connectivism postcard features a macromolecule (specifically DNA). Since the atom is the smallest unit of all three, I felt it best portrayed the PLN. The PLN is determined by each individual in terms of the connections made, tools used, and people or organizations included. A person is free to determine whether or not they will lurk or share within their PLN (Lanlande, 2012). A CoP is much larger than that of a PLN because it requires a group of people committed to the same problem or endeavor (Smith, 2010). Each molecule is made up of a series of atoms, much like a CoP which consists of group members and their respective PLNs. Connectivism describes something a bit different than the PLN or CoP. Connectivism deals with the new landscape of information and technological advances that characterize the modern world. Its focus is on the complexity of information and the means of networking to acquire and share information (Kop & Hill, 2008; Siemens, 2005). Thus, the macromolecule (DNA) seemed to be a good fit for the concept. DNA simultaneously represents a colossal collection of atoms and molecules (PLNs and CoPs) that share information via their connections. No one molecule or atom stands out as superior to the others, much like one individual can no longer exist as an expert as argued by Siemens (2005).
A Thinglink of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man
My non-linguistic representation is an interactive version of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. My idea was that our feet are the base of a person. I see one’s personal learning community as their base that provides support. In that area I included a spider developing his web or network as it represents how over time people build their web/network. I included a picture of a map because it looks like the veins and arteries of the city as it connects people across boundaries just as our personal network connects us across space and time. A picture of fabric for knitting is a metaphor for how we knit our own network to fit our individual needs. As Dr. Buchem explained in her presentation, when people feel personal control over their learning, they approach it with more passion and commitment. Finally, if the creation of something complex and interwoven had a sound, I always envisioned it sounded like Struggle for Pleasure by Wim Mertens.
For the main joints, I placed images of connectivity. Some are obvious, like the Chain Bride in Budapest, a chain link fence or a satellite. The grand canal of Venice (Blue Venice) by Manet works in two ways. It is a boat traveling across the water which is a way of travel and staying connected, but also with it being from his impressionist period, it is made up of seemingly random strokes of color. Up close, it appears a mess. From a distance, we can see each color and each mark works perfectly with each other and creates a beautiful image.
For communities of practice, I thought the hands were a proper symbol as they are the appendage that we most use to interact with our world. We touch, hold, build, and break mostly with our hands. To represent idea of communal practice, I included a video of the Liverpool fans singing to their soccer team. Nothing says community in practice like 45,000 people singing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” This is true trust and humanity. The song guarantees that even in the face of failure, even in the darkest times, there will be unwavering support. It is a fine example of a positive communal relationship. Also, I included a time lapse video of London. When we see the hours of the city in this sped up manner, it reveals the hidden way the people of a city all work together like the blood pumping through the city’s veins. (http://danielmcilhenney.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/creative-expression-of-plns-connectivism-and-communities-of-practice/)
Exploring Music: PLNs, CoPs, and Connectivism
PLNs create individualized learning experiences through sharing and creating resources to further help individuals gain expertise in an area of interest. In my analogy, I use pictures of singular musicians playing a variety of different instruments. They all share a common interest—music, but each instrument is unique to what the individual wants to develop mastery. Similarly, PLNs are personalized to the learning wants and needs of the individual learner. For example, individuals interested in multimedia can connect and share with other individuals that have the same interest(s). Analogous to this with my non-linguistic representation, guitar players can connect with guitar resources, drummers with drummers and saxophonists with saxophonists. Back to my representation, as singular musicians expand upon their knowledge and expertise wtith their chosen instrument, the drive to share beyond their personal expertise grows. This growth takes place when an individual forms a bigger collective, like a band, whose common goal is to create a bigger scale of creative music in unison. This idea leads to a CoP, where similar endeavored individuals connect. (http://www.edtechlearning.org/?p=202)
The Handbook of Mobile Learning has just been published through Routledge: Taylor and Francis – see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415503693/. I am excited to have a chapter in this edited book, Team and Community Building Using Mobile Devices. Here is the introduction to my chapter:
People in the 21st Century are using their own mobile devices – iPads, netbooks, laptops, and smart phones – to be consumers and producers of digital content, and to be active participants in online communities. They are connecting with one another through mobile technologies in unprecedented ways. Computers, Wi-Fi networks, and smart phones allow young people 24/7 access to technology and to one another. They are familiar and comfortable with social networking and using a variety of apps via their devices. Nielson(2010), in a survey of teen mobile device use, reported that 94% percent of teen users identified themselves as advanced data users, turning to their mobile devices for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities like downloads.
When educators leverage these types of informal learning by giving agency to the students to use their mobile technologies and by providing the structure and skills for their use within more formal educational settings, motivation and learning are increased. Using mobile devices in educational settings as learning and community building tools can promote interpersonal communication, encourage young people to positively express their individuality and build their student-to-student, and student-to-educator relationships. The strategic and intentional use of cell phones, social networking sites, laptops, blogs, and digital cameras can build diversity and cultural sensitivity, teamwork and problem solving, self-reflection and self-exploration, and communication and self-expression.
This chapter introduces the use of mobile devices as a means to build community and teamwork within a variety of classroom settings: face-to-face, blended, and virtually. This discussion has four components: research that supports the use of student-owned mobile devices for building community in the classroom, evidence to support the importance of promoting community in the classroom, team-building activities using mobile devices, and the results of a end-of-course student survey about using mobile devices for community building,
. . . and an excerpt:
MOBILE DEVICES USE PATTERNS SUPPORT COMMUNITY BUILDING
People of all ages, almost from all parts of the world, are using their mobile devices to communicate, connect, and share personal experiences. They are building their own informal learning and social communities via their mobile devices and social networking sites. This section discusses the research about mobile device use patterns. It becomes the foundation not only for providing a rationale for the use of mobile devices in the classroom, but also serves as a guide for the types of technologies and activities that are best suited for mobile-driven community building activities.
Mobile Phone Ownership and Use Patterns Among United States Teens
A Pew Research report entitled, Teens and Mobile Phones, released April, 2010, noted that as of September 2009, 75% of American teens ages 12-17 own cell phone. This number has steadily increased from 45% of teens in November 2004. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in the lives of teens today, with ownership cutting across demographic groups and geographical locations.
As expected, texting was the top activity of cell phone using teens with taking and sharing pictures, playing music, and recording and exchanging videos also being popular uses.
Worldwide Use of Cell Phones
Mobile device use has become a world-wide phenomenon allowing informal learning and social networking to cross over geographical divides. Pew Research (2011) released a report entitled, Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide. The three key findings from this report that support mobile-driven community-building activities are:
- Cell phones are owned and used throughout the world.
- Cell phones are being used for texting, taking photos, and using the Internet. Cell phones are owned by large majorities of people in most major countries around the world. They are used for much more than just phone calls. In particular, text messaging is a global phenomenon – across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of 75% of cell phone owners say they text.
- Young people worldwide are likely to use their cell phones for social networking (Pew Research, 2011).
The usage is similar to that seen with United States teens. Text messaging is prevalent in 19 of 21 countries with a majority of mobile phone owners regularly sending text messages. Many also use their mobile phones to take pictures and record video (Pew Research, 2011).
Mobile device use crosses across socio-economic boundaries and geographic locations. People are using them for texting, photo-sharing, and other forms of social networking. In other words, people are already using mobile devices to build their own informal learning and sharing communities, so it becomes a natural progression and extension to bring this type of learning into the educational environment.
Finally, here is a slidedeck that I use when presenting on this topic:
Leveraging the students’ mobile devices has become an ongoing and integrated practice of my face-to-face undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations. What follows are the mobile and technology driven activities completed during the class on personal-identity.
I Am Poems
Students are given the following template and asked to fill in the blanks to create their own I Am Poems.
Once the poems are written, students are provided with a link to a shared Google Doc Presentation and instructions to use one of the presentation slides to compose their poem and include a photo from their Facebook accounts or one taken with their mobile that symbolizes the essence of their identify. After all students complete this task, the presentation is projected via an interactive board. Students, one at a time, read their poems to their classmates.
We made an “I AM” poem, which I thought was very fun. It was interesting to see the imaginations on some classmates. These activities are what makes the class fun.
We wrote ” I am” poems which was really cool too. I liked seeing what everyone had to say about themselves. I got to see a side of them that I probably never would have.
Students are asked to choose their three top values from a list of values. They are then given the task to locate objects in their environment that symbolize these values and take photos using their mobile devices. Directions are given to email their photos to a Flickr account set up for this purpose. Students do not need to have an account on Flickr to do so. The steps to set this up are as follows:
- Set up an account on Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/
- Photos can then be emailed directly to this Flickr account. “You can upload photos to Flickr from your camera using your unique email upload address. When you upload photos via email, the subject line is used as the title of your photo, and the body of the email is used as the description” (http://www.flickr.com/help/mobile/)
Students are given the email address to send their photos to Flickr along with the instructions to put the name of their value in the subject line and why they selected that value in the description. Since all the group’s images will are sent to this single Flickr account, students are able to view each other’s photographs through the Flickr website projected on a screen if in a face-to-face setting.
Going over our values was an important part of the activity (I personally can say) because our values play a critical role in our self-esteem, they dictate what is important to us.
The Johari Window is introduced to the students. The focus of this activity is on the window known to others but not known to self. Since the students have been working together for several weeks, they have some knowledge of their classroom peers. As such, they are instructed to provide feedback to those three or four students with whom they have had most contact during the initial weeks of the course. Feedback is provided in the form of three descriptive adjectives texted to the person receiving the feedback.
We sent messages to other people describing how we saw them when we first met in class. This was surprising to me because I received different feedback then I would expect..