User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Posts Tagged ‘technology integration

Lip Syncing Characters Using micro:bits and Hummingbirds

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I am quite fond of facilitating physical computing activities with my learners as I’ve discussed in Scratch and Makey Makey Across the Curriculum . For that post I created the following graphic to represent the benefits of physical computing. I think it is important to extend the use of coding microcontrollers into making physical objects for the following reasons:

benefits of physical computing

Lip Syncing Characters with a micro:bit and a Servo

I was excited to find Cecilia Hillway‘s (she’s so very talented!) Lip-Syncing Characters With Micro:bit – https://www.instructables.com/Lip-Syncing-Characters-With-Microbit/. Here is her video overview of her processes:

. . . and here are some examples of what my students did over the school year and what Cecilia’s kids did this summer:

Cecilia’s provided a Makecode graphic for the project:

I recreated this Makecode – https://makecode.microbit.org/_aRfexJ44aEpk

Lip Syncing Characters with a Hummingbird

A Hummingbird by Birdbrain is a kit of lights, sensors, and motors which allows students to create personally meaningful robots out of any materials. As part of her Instructables, Cecilia described her use of Hummingbird to add more features to the Lip Syncing Characters. It was a bit complicated for me so I used the kit to add a second servo to have her arm move and a flashing light to highlight my character’s name.

With the help of the folks from Codejoy, a Makecode was created for this project.

Here is the makecode – https://makecode.microbit.org/_1Ex1vYcqbF0r

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 18, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Artificial Intelligence: Generative AI

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The Generative AI learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective as well as being part of the ISTE AI Explorations course I am taking.

ISTE Standards for Students

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

The Hook

Students explore the following Generative AI technologies:

Introductory Videos

Students watch the following videos to gain some background knowledge about GANS:

Warm-Up Activity: Create a Mythical Creature

Students create a mythical creature using Google’s Chimera Painter-https://storage.googleapis.com/chimera-painter/index.html. “Chimera Painter is a demo that lets you run wild by drawing out creature shapes that become fully fleshed out by our CreatureGAN machine learning model, which was trained on hundreds of thousands of 2D renders of 3D creature models.” To begin, students watch the following video. It provides a great overview about how GANS work in the context of using the Chimera Painter. Once they create their creatures, they write a short story about them. Students can be instructed that their favorite creation can be used in the next activity – their presentation assignment.

The students loved making these.

Assignment: Create a Generative AI-Enhanced Presentation

For this assignment, students are going to make a presentation out of Generative AI Art that shows the projects they created for our AI unit (see previous blog posts). An alternative can be that the theme for the presentation is decided upon by the student and/or the teacher). It needs to include AI Art, AI sounds or music, and AI Drawing or Painting elements.

To begin students experiment with and create artifacts for the following GANS. They then choose their favorite creation from each of the following for use in their presentations. Students can use Google Slides to upload their creations, and possibly add text to create a GAN-enhanced presentation.

Generative AI Art

Generative AI Music

Generative AI Drawing / AI Painting:

Example Student Project

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 4, 2022 at 1:30 pm

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbot Activities for Students

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The chatbot learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective as well as being part of the ISTE AI Explorations course I am taking.

ISTE Standards for Students

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

The Hook

Learners try out the following chatbot:


Video Introduction


Main Activity 1: A Scratch Text to Speech Language Translator Chatbot

Student Examples


Main Activity 2: Create a Chatbot on a Topic of Your Choice

Learners create their own Chatbots using Scratch 3.0. They are expected to research a topic of personal interest to create a Chatbot that can answer questions about interesting facts related to their topic.

Students explain how the ones they created work:



Extension

To extend knowledge about and coding of Chatbots, learners do the Python-drive CodeMonkey Trivia Chatbot course: https://app.codemonkey.com/hour-of-code/trivia-chatbot/course#1

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 30, 2022 at 1:54 am

Transmedia, Digital Storytelling Project

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As someone who, for years, has been using educational technology, I have \said the often stated quote, Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who don’t use technology will be replaced. More recently I heard the quote from my brilliant colleague, George Couros, Technology won’t replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers can be transformational. This better fits my sensibilities.

As an educator of 1st-6th grade gifted students, I love asking them to use digital platforms that permit them to be content creators. I believe that learners, in this high tech, highly connected world, should be producing as much or even more content than they are consuming. From Digital Promise:

Schools, libraries, and classrooms have traditionally been a place for the consumption of information and ideas. Empowering students as creators means educators shift their professional thinking, instruction and instructional program to enable authentic opportunities for students to individually and collaboratively tinker, build, inquire, design, create, and iterate.

The research surrounding students as creators recognizes their potential to engage, participate and their potential for developing agency as citizens of the world. As digital-age learners, students are not merely consumers of content and ideas. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) identifies “Empowered Learners,” “Knowledge Constructors,” “Innovative Designers,” and “Computational Thinkers” among seven core standards for students (Empowering Students as Creators).

To support students as content creators, they were asked to create transmedia, digital stories. Digital stories are:

At a basic level digital storytelling means using technology to tell stories. You can tell digital stories in many ways, for example: through text on a website or social media tool, through narration and images in a video, or through narration in a podcast. Digital stories are not just facts presented with accompanying images, they are narratives crafted to take the listener or reader on a journey. Just like a novel or a documentary, digital stories have a plot, characters, and themes (What is Digital Storytelling?).

. . . and similarly, transmedia storytelling is defined as:

Transmedia storytelling uses multiple media platforms tell a coordinated story.  Multiple narratives come together, constructing a larger storyworld. Like a giant puzzle, each piece contributes to a larger narrative. The process is cumulative and each piece adds richness and detail to the story world, such as character backstories and secondary plotlines.  This makes for a richer audience experience and multiple access points (What is Transmedia Storytelling?).

For this project, my gifted students, grades 4-6, were asked to write a fictional story, alone or with a partner (most chose a partner). It was open-ended in that the fictional content was determined by them. They did, though, have to create:

  • Characters with each student creating a Makey-Makey/Scratch bottle character,
  • The Story Setting with each individual or team creating a CoSpace to portray their story setting,
  • A Story Arc using Storyboard That or Google Docs.

Makey Makey/Scratch Bottle Characters

To begin this aspect of the project, students were asked to compose 5 facts about their characters. They then created sculptural versions of their characters using water bottles and craft materials. They used Makey Makeys/Scratch to “speak” those facts – see the video below. Scratch is coding language with a simple visual interface that allows young people to create digital stories, games, and animations. Makey Makey is a simple circuit board you can use to create your own keyboard for a computer. For this project, students used Scratch to work using the Makey Makey. See Biography Bottles With Makey Makey for how to do this.

CoSpaces Story Settings

CoSpaces Edu is a 3D creation web and app-based classroom tool that allows students to create in a 3D augmented and virtual reality environments. It permits for collaborative creation so students were able to work with their partners to create a 3D, VR versions of the settings for their stories.

Since CoSpaces projects are VR enabled, I bought a cheap Bnext™ VR headset from ebay so students could view their spaces in virtual reality. It was so much fun to watch their reactions.

(The above images are royalty-free, but my students looked like this when viewing their sites. I couldn’t take photos as they were using my phone/camera to view CoSpaces.)

Plot – Story Arc: Storyboard That

I really love using Storyboard That, a digital tool aimed at students who want to create a storyboard to communicate. The online-based platform lets anyone easily create a storyboard in order to tell a story in a visually engaging way. For this project, I assigned the Plot Diagram and Narrative Arc template for students to use, a more complex one for older students and a less complex one for younger students.

Benefits/Results

From observing my learners for the multiple hours they were engaged in this project, I found it had the following benefits:

  • Full and total engagement,
  • Increased creativity and use of imagination (more than simple, written work) ,
  • Student voice and choice,
  • Learning how to use new content creation technologies,
  • Learning the mechanics of writing,
  • Project management (due to the long term nature of this project),
  • Joy and pride in learning.

A Perfect Storm for Maker Education

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Originally published at http://blog.iat.com/2015/09/30/a-perfect-storm-for-maker-education/.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/575147870160683008

Perfect Storm: an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically.  The term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

Maker Movement:

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. http://72.9.148.189/library/D.I.Y.

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

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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

DSC02505

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 Boys and Girls Club of America) has tackled this head-on at BGCA (Tackling the Digital Divide & Closing the Opportunity Gap in STEM Education) and so has Congressman Joe Kennedy in Boston (Do Politicians Really Care About STEM Education?).

Crowdsourcing and Participatory Culture

The maker movement and makerspaces are that they 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 (@dalepd), 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)

Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi), the inventor of the highly popular maker technology Arduino, noted how a participatory maker culture spurs creativity.

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.

A Class on Coding and Bots

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Thinglink of Resources: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/753039991126360065

I have been asked to return to teach summer enrichment classes on maker education for elementary-aged learners at a local school during the summer of 2016. One of the new classes I am designing is called Coding and Bots. It is a week long (5 days) class that will meet for 2.5 hours each morning. The description is:

Learn how to code first by playing games and then by coding some bots including Sphero, Ollie, mBot, OZOBOT, and Dash and Dot. All ages are welcome but the child should have basic symbol recognition/reading skills.

Two things to note about this class are, first, I learned last summer not to underestimate the learning potential of very young kids. These classes are mixed ages ranging from 4 to 10 year old kids. For most of the maker education activities, the very young ones could perform them, sometimes better than the older kids. Second, I am a strong proponent of hands on activities. Although I like the use of iPads and computers, I want elementary aged students to have to directly interact with materials. As such, I am designing Coding and Bots to include using their bodies and manipulating objects. This translates into having all activities include the use of objects and materials excluding and in conjunction with the iPad – not just using the iPad and online apps/tools to learn to code. The activities I plan to do follow:

Warm-Ups: Human Robots

Coding the Cups

Adapted from this Tinkersmith Activity, learners use symbols and plastic cups to act as robots using the coded symbols to build and manipulate a cup stack. Each small group of 2 to 4 learners gets 18 to 24 plastic cups and a set of symbol cards (a few sets of the template below):

cupstack

The cups are lined up on two levels. Each player, one at a time, picks and flips over one of the symbol cards and does the action stated on the card with the cups. In doing their movements, players need to insure that their selected cup is in contact with at least one other cup as part of their action. A player is “out” if s/he knocks over the cup/cups. The winner is the last player who places a cup without knocking any over. To increase the challenge, have learners play the game with just the symbols during second or third round of the game.

Kodable fuzzFamily Frenzy

Learners create a simple obstacle course where they “program” a partner to complete it using the code key below. Once they have written their code their partner must follow instructions to complete the course.

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An Outdoor Treasure Hunt Through Codes

The educator sets up a Treasure Hunt outdoors for the learners to solve using coding clues provided by the educator. The coding clues are based on the following legend:

treasurehunt symbols

The pre-activity set-up includes setting up clues around the outdoor learning environment that lead from landmark to landmark and finally to a treasure (a treat or prize of some kind) along with the coding clues to get to each of the landmarks. Several routes might have to be set up if working with a larger group. I recommend no more than 3 or 4 per group. Learners are given the first clue, a series of the coding symbols that lead to the first landmark. An example might look like:

treasurehunt example

When they arrive at that landmark, they will find another clue, another series of coding symbols that lead to the next landmark and so on until they arrive at the last landmark that contains their treasure.

As a follow-up, learners will be separated into smaller groups to set up a treasure hunt for the other groups using the same legend of coding symbols.

This activity was adapted from Kodable’s Fuzz Family activity.

Superhero Coding for Kids

Use basic programming ideas to help Batman avoid the bad guys and get the jewels! You have to get him to move on the right path around the obstacles using basic programming commands.  The directions for this game can be found at http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/superhero-computer-coding-game-without-a-computer/

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Board + Manipulative Games

Robot Turtles Game

Learners will play the Robot Turtles Board Game. Robot Turtles is the a board game that teaches coding skills to kids as young as four, and the only screen-free resource for this pivotal age group. Read more at http://thinkfun.com/media-center/robot-turtles/.

Liz Engel Greaser designed an extension to this game but having her learners create their own Robots Turtle Games – see Extensions for Robot Turtles for the how-tos.

Coding Monkey Island

Learners will also play the Code Monkey Island. Its description is:

Code Monkey Island, the board game designed to teach players of all ages computer science logic! As the wise leader of your own tribe of monkeys, it’s up to you to guide all three of your monkeys safely around the board and into the banana grove. You’ll have to use concepts like conditional statements, looping, booleans, assignment operators and more to earn moves for your monkeys, dodge quicksand traps, and score some delicious fruit along the way!

Code Master

In Code Master, your Avatar travels to an exotic world in search of power Crystals. Along the way, you use programming logic to navigate the Map. Think carefully, in each level, only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success. Once you collect all the Crystals and land at the Portal, you win! (http://thinkfun.com/products/code-master/)

Osmo Coding

Osmo Coding begins with an assortment of modular magnetic blocks. You snap together numbered blocks along with commands such as “run,” “jump,” and “grab,” as you guide a tiny monster named Awbie on his eternal quest for more strawberries. https://www.playosmo.com/en/coding/)

Bots and Coding

Finally. the learners will move into coding the bots: Sphero, Dash and Bot, and Ozobot.

Sphero and Ollie

Learners will code their Spheros and Ollies using the Tynker app.

tynker-control-connected-devices-1024x434

MESH tags

MESH are wireless electronic tags shaped like blocks and each of them has different function. When you connect them together by using MESH app, your ‘what if’ ideas come to life. There is no need for knowledge of electronics or programming. Creating an IoT (internet of things) system will be very simple with MESH. http://meshprj.com/en/

Dash and Dot

Children ages 5 and up learn the foundations of problem solving and computer programming as they have fun with Dash & Dot.  Dash Dash is an explorer who zips around the room, getting into mischief along the way. Using sensors, Dash can detect objects in front and behind, hear where you are, and see where Dot is. This robot has quite the personality and becomes more capable as you program and play. Introducing Dot Dot is a puppet master who instigates the adventures that Dash goes on. When you toss, shake, or pick Dot up, Dot sends a signal telling Dash what to do. Dot can also tell stories using lights, sounds, and eye expressions.

Lesson plans for Dot and Dash can be found at https://teachers.makewonder.com/lessons.

OZOBOT

OZOBOT is an award winning smart robot, designed to teach kids & techies alike about robotics, programming & coding.

Ozoblocky is the programming language. The editor can be found at http://ozoblockly.com/editor

OZOBOT  lesson plans can be found at http://ozobot.com/play and http://portal.ozobot.com/lessons.

Codebug

CodeBug is a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age. CodeBug can display graphics and text, has touch sensitive inputs and you can power it with a watch battery. It is easy to program CodeBug using the online interface, which features colourful drag and drop blocks, an in-browser emulator and engaging community features. Create your own games, clothes, robots or any other wacky inventions you have in mind! (http://www.codebug.org.uk/whatiscodebug/)

Codebug lesson plans can be found at http://www.codebug.org.uk/learn/activity/ and http://www.codebug.org.uk/explore/codebug/

Extras – Build a Bot

Kamigamirobot

Resources:

The O Watch

Resources:

Cross Curricular Maker Education Activity That Addresses Common Core Standards

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My primary job is that of educating pre and in-service teachers with a bit of teaching elementary students along the way. I often say that there is not enough time during the school day and the school year to teach isolated and singular content area topics. I stress designing and teaching cross-curricular thematic units. Not only will the learners then get to experience multi-layered instruction, they will also experience more authentic learning experiences. Real life learning doesn’t segment itself into isolated content areas.

What follows is a specific lesson for upper elementary and middle school students. It combines geometry concepts with a language arts activity while addressing several common core standards.

  • Grade Level: Grades 6 through 8
  • Title: Geometry Meets Maker Education
  • Brief Description: Learners create a robot using geometric shapes and LEDs. They then compose a comic strip using Storyboard That which describes the geometric properties of their robot.
  • Common Core State Standards Addressed
    • Math: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.
      • CCSS.Math.Content.6.G.A.4 Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
      • CCSS.Math.Content.7.G.B.6 Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.
    • English Language Arts
      • ELA: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
      • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2.d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • ISTE’s NETS-S standards addressed
    • Creativity and innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
      • Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
      • Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
      • Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
    • Communication and collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
      • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
  • The Learning Activities
    • Learners are offered a variety of styrofoam shapes, LED lights/coin batteries, miscellaneous art supplies and glue guns.
    • Learners are given the task of building a robot composed of geometric shapes.
    • 10704133_10152777880134939_5875649242895121512_nLearners are asked to determine the surface area of their robots using the tape measures to get dimensions of individual pieces. They can use the LearnZillion tutorial to assist them – https://learnzillion.com/resources/72676-use-nets-to-represent-three-dimensional-figures-and-find-surface-area-6-g-a-4.
    • Learners share their results, both their constructed robots and their surface area results, with peers. Peers give feedback.
    • Learners are then told that they are to explain the properties and story of their robots through a digital story using Storyboard That. Their stories need to be at least four panels and contain both images and test in each of the panels. These are shared with peers.

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  • Reflection

Having learners engage in hands-on activities, both with the art items and with the technologies, permits educators to directly observe the performances of their students. Because these activities are somewhat self-directed, educators can actually view the learning activities as formative assessments and intervene when individual learners are having problems. This increases the chances that mastery by all learners are achieved.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

November 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

The Educator as a Maker Educator: the eBook

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makered bookcover

I compiled all of my blog posts about Maker Education into an ebook that I published via Amazon Kindle. The price is $3.99.  It can be accessed at http://www.amazon.com/Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B016Z5NZ6O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

The pieces include theoretical ideas, informal research-observations, ideas related to the educator as a maker educator, the maker education process, suggestions for implementation, and reflecting on the making process. Graphics and infographics created to support the chapter content are included.

The Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • The Perfect Storm for Maker Education
  • Is It Project-Based Learning, Maker Education or Just Projects?
  • Maker Education and Experiential Education
  • MAKE STEAM: Giving Maker Education Some Context
  • The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education
  • Becoming a Lifelong Maker: Start Young
  • Making and Innovation: Balancing Skills-Development, Scaffolding, and Free Play
  • Let Children’s Play (with Technology) Be Their Work in Education
  • Tinkering and Technological Imagination in Educational Technology
  • Educator as a Maker Educator
  • Educator as Lead Learner
  • Promises to My Learners as a Maker Educator
  • The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Tinkering and Maker Education
  • Maker Education: Inclusive, Engaging, Self-Differentiating
  • Team Building Activities That Support Maker Education, STEM, and STEAM
  • Stages of Being a Maker Learner
  • Making MAKEing More Inclusive
  • Example Lesson:  Maker Education Meets the Writers’ Workshop
  • Reflecting on the Making Process

 

The Perfect Storm for Maker Education

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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.

Maker Movement:

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)

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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

perfect storm

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/575147870160683008

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

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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 (@dalepd), 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)

Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi), the inventor of the highly popular maker technology Arduino, noted how a participatory maker culture spurs creativity.

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.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 16, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Technology

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A major criticism I have of most educational institutions is that their primary focus is on students’ intellectual and cognitive development.  Too often individual learner’s needs do not enter into the equation of their educations.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a useful model for educators to use to help insure that they are addressing more of the whole child.

Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy — physiological needs, personal safety, social affiliation, self-esteem and self-actualization — to education is an ideal way to assess lesson plans, courses and educational programs. By asking themselves whether these needs are being met in their school or classroom, educators can assess how well they are applying Maslow’s hierarchy to their teaching practice (How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Education).

Some general strategies for addressing these needs in the classroom can be found at Addressing Our Needs: Maslow Comes to Life for Educators and Students.

Technology is way too often given a bad rap by administrators and educators as a distraction or a hazard for students.  When technology is integrated intentionally with foresight and with intention of addressing specific growth-oriented goals, it increases the potential to help students learn, develop, and grow in unique ways.  It can be used to help address the needs as described by Maslow.

What follows is an Infographic that proposes some of the technology integration strategies that can be used to addressed the different levels of Maslow’s needs.

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Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.

Technology cannot address nor meet biological and physiological needs.

Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability

Technology is opening new opportunities for everyone, promoting creativity and effective learning. Children and young people are using the Internet more and more, and from an earlier age. The Internet is more assessable than every before.  To use technology effectively requires an awareness of both the benefits and the risks. This in turn, has created a world which can be both fun and exciting as well as providing potential dangers and harm. It is important that [educators] and young people are aware of these risks and of the steps you can take to minimize them (Keeping Safe Online).

Safety in the age of the Internet revolves around Online Safety, Digital Citizenship, Privacy, and Cyberbullying Prevention.  Strategies and lessons related to these topics should not be overlooked.  They should be continually taught and reinforced for students of all ages.

There is a plethora of resources online to have students learn this knowledge and skills.  Here are a few to start:

Social Needs – Belongingness and Love, – work group, family, affection, relationships

One of the biggest benefits of the Internet to this generation of learners is their ability to connect with like-minded individuals . . .  their tribes throughout the globe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says social media can be beneficial to younger users. For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend’s house. … A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones.  Engagement in social media and online communities can enhance communication, facilitate social interaction (Social Networks: Thinking Of The Children).

Educators can become more intentional and strategic in assisting their students in becoming connected learners.  Providing learners with the time, resources, permission, and tips for developing their own personal learning networks greatly increases their opportunity to gain a sense of belonging.   They can get their social needs met within a global community.

Personal Learning Networks have been around for some time.  The idea of a PLN is simply a network of people and resources through which you learn and grow.   What if we made the building of such a network a central part of the curriculum, inviting students to keep a log or journal of their growing network, and how this network is empowering them to learn, how it is expanding their knowledge and perspective? How are they building a meaningful network? This would genuinely turn schools into places of fishing lessons. Students can interview people around the world, tutor and be tutored, take part in formal and informal learning communities, take part in Twitter chats and Hangouts, learn from and engage in the blogosphere, experience the power of working on a meaningful project in a distributed/virtual team, participate in a massive open online course (or design and teach one), share resources through social bookmarking and other technologies, host and take part in webinars, and build new online and blended learning communities around topics of personal value, need, and interest (Helping Students Develop Personal Learning Networks).

Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility

People need to sense that they are valued and by others and feel that they are making a contribution to the world. Participation in professional activities, academic accomplishments, athletic or team participation, and personal hobbies can all play a role in fulfilling the esteem needs (Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy).

The act of creation has great potential for enhancing one’s esteem. Technology has provided the tools and means for learners to be creators of their own products rather than primarily becoming consumers which is characteristic of 20th century informal and formal learning.   They can and do write via blogging and microblogging, make videos, take and post photos and other forms of digital art, perform and record music, create video games, and learn and share their skills online.

Not only do learners have the tool available to create.  They now can publish their work through online social networking platforms which increases the potential to reach an authentic audience; an audience that has similar interests and can provide valuable feedback.

The online world offers kids remarkable opportunities to become literate and creative because young people can now publish ideas not just to their friends, but to the world. And it turns out that when they write for strangers, their sense of “authentic audience” makes them work harder, push themselves further, and create powerful new communicative forms (Teenagers and social networking – it might actually be good for them).

Using the internet as a platform for publication gives students the chance to reach an audience the previous generations could not. Still in many schools and classrooms today, students are asked to perform demonstrations of knowledge, skills and understanding before an audience of 1 – the teacher. In many cases the performer is left feeling very unsatisfied, why? We ask students to spend copious amounts of hours perfecting the required aptitude and their reward is the tick of approval from only a single person.  Many forward thinking teachers have started using web publishing tools to give their students the opportunity to reach a wider audience, or a very specific one (An Authentic Audience?).

Using these freely available forums and tools makes it more likely that the self-esteem needs of achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility are met.

Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning

We are living in the age of information abundance. I discussed the idea of information abundance more in depth in Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education.  Pertinent to this discussion about assisting learners in meeting their cognitive needs are the following two points.

  • Educators are no longer the gatekeepers to information.  Prior to Web 1.0 and Web 2.o, students were often dependent on educators to be the experts to tell them about and share resources about the content-related topic.  Now the Internet has videos, resources, and research from experts and practitioners who often know more about the content than does the educator.  Now more than even, the educator needs to:
  • The Internet needs to be open and available to students.  Many students already have access to information where and when they want it but often not in the school setting.  Many are learning more after school hours than during school hours.  By limiting students to textbooks and information as selected by districts, principals, textbook and testing companies, a type of censorship occurs.  Students have the opportunity, through the Internet, to hear, see, and read about varying perspectives on so many topics.  Depriving them of the opportunity to do so limits their education.

To put it simply, educators can provide the learners with the desirable learning topics and objectives, and then give them the freedom to find and share their own resources about those topics.  (Note: Better yet, educators can allow students to identify their own learning topics and then give the guidance, freedom, and permissions to find the information to engage in an in-depth, independent study.)

The Cognitive Needs can also be met by assisting learners in becoming digital curators.

With the right guidance, digitally curating knowledge can help students make sense of the world, uncover hidden passions and reach a deeper level of learning. But it’s up to educators to teach them to do it thoughtfully.

“Students are curators, but they don’t know it’s what they’re doing,” said educational technologist Naomi Harm. “They’re sharing things out, but they don’t realize what an educational impact they’re truly making. We as educators need to set the stage for students to be more self-directed in how they curate this knowledge to extend their learning experiences” (Students are knowledge curators — let’s help them use it).

The bottom line is that, in this age of open and abundant information, learners can become empowered to access, reflect upon, and share knowledge that they personally find of value.

Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form

Technology has offered new and unique ways to engage in and meet aesthetic needs.

Interest-driven art-making is fueled to a large degree by the surge in new technologies, which have radically transformed the ability to collaborate, share and publish work, affecting the modes, genres, and ways of art-making today.  Many young people are creating original work and sharing it with others. Findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggest that nearly two-thirds of online teens create content at some point – from blogs to Web pages to original stories, photos, videos or other artwork they post electronically.

What other creative activities are young people engaging in in their “spare” time? A wide variety of traditional endeavors, to be sure – dancing (often assisted by video games or websites) or poetry (given new life by poetry slams), for example. But they are also busy at work in many wholly new art forms or hybrids of older forms. Among these are designing video games; using animations or cartoons or video game components to produce “machinima” films; and generating “fanfic,” stories and creations that feed off popular books, movies, cartoons and other features. All this points to a broader cultural trend that values creative production and the communities that form around it. This trend is driven in part by the proliferation of technologies that put production of arts – music composition, dance, design, and visual arts, among them – within reach of anyone interested (New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age).

I am an advocate of integrating the skills, knowledge, and interests related to the informal learning of children and youth into mainstream, formal educational settings.  Educators can leverage these skills and interests to help students learn about school-oriented content areas resulting in both fulfillment in this needs level and learning the required content-area knowledge.

Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

This stage relates to the ability to apply what students have learned and to be able to “give back” and become involved with the betterment of the larger community (How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Education).   The Internet and online forums have the potential to help learners become involved in social causes and activism.

Online hobnobbing can enable youngsters to discover opportunities for community service and volunteering and can help youth shape their sense of identity.  These tools also can be useful adjuncts to — and in some cases are replacing — traditional learning methods in the classroom.

I discuss more in depth how social media can assist with social activism in Social Media a Cause:

For all we hear about “kids these days” and their irresponsible use of social media−posting questionable pictures of themselves or letting Twitter corrode their ability to hold a thought for more than a nanosecond−it turns out that most are using it to express a genuine passion for changing the world around them. And they’re succeeding. And these trends extend well beyond the U.S. In other countries shows similar interests in contributing to larger causes. China’s young adults for instance, lead the world in online political discussions and offline they donate the most money to charities. India’s younger generation ranks the first in the world when it comes to staying informed, and they’re the most optimistic about the impact their activism has on the world around them.  It seems that our youngest generation of adults are the ones leading the charge when it comes to effectively making a difference. http://news.yahoo.com/kids-social-media-created-generation-activists-083812969.html

By becoming more intentional in their instructional strategies, educators can use the social networking skills and the desire of young people to create an atmosphere of meaningful, engaged, and authentic learning through social activism.  This, in turn, helps set the stage for learners to gain feelings of self-actualization.

Postscript Note:  I believe that technology has given us the power, tools, and means to teach in qualitatively different ways than we did in the 20th century.  My goal is to assist educators in having a framework for doing so.  Here are some related posts that revolve around this idea:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

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