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Posts Tagged ‘maker

When people I have not previously met ask me what I do, I sometimes joke that I am a “professional troublemaker”. It is my way of saying that I think and operate differently.

I have not done this for a long time since I choose who I work with and they value “different”. However, I recently precipitated an uncomfortable conversation with work partners about designing for online learning.

What happened? In a nutshell, a group of administrators made executive decisions without consulting a partner I work with. One fundamental issue was that course modules designed as face-to-face sessions would be delivered online instead.

What is the problem with that? For a start, the environments, conditions, and expectations for teaching and learning are different in each mode. There are overlaps, of course, but they are different enough to warrant the redesign of face-to-face modules to suit online spaces.

When I sighed yesterday, this was largely because our systems have had years of “e-learning” days and months-long runways to redesign courses, but nothing happens until there is an e-for-emergency learning crisis. What looks like change during desperate times dissipates and things return to normal.

Not wanting history to repeat itself, I contacted my work partner to state my plans and share the cost for redesign. My partner saw the logic of my argument and pushed it up the food chain. This precipitated an on-going discussion between two sides which have wildly differing opinions. I give credit to my work partner for sticking to its principles and supporting my stance.

I “made trouble” not to be a pain. These conversations might be uncomfortable, but at the same time are essential. I stand by doing what is best for our learners, not what is best for the status quo, policy, or budget.

If you are not part of the solution, you might be part of the problem.

I am offering what I know to be a better way forward. What we design for online learning can inform and improve face-to-face instruction. I am offering a solution, not creating a problem.

I am all for maker movements provided they or the press do not oversell them or spread popular fallacies.

This tweet claims that students have and need a space to make.

If you need a specific space to “get creative”, you are teaching the wrong value system. I would argue that you get the most creative stress when you do not actually have a special space and resources.

A reserved “maker space” also silos the content and the so-called 21st century competencies (21cc) from the rest of the curriculum. Making should be integrated, not set apart and sold like a public relations tool.

Speaking of 21CC, the press still sells communication and collaboration as 21st century. This make me wonder how the other centuries got by without them.

No, making should not be special nor it is uniquely 21st century. Focusing on such messaging distracts from its core — learning by doing, asking, failing, and trying again.

Refuse to be confused.

I have no doubt that someone will watch this video by Nintendo and label it an example of the maker movement.

Video source

It is not. Needing to assemble something does not make the process of making.

Following instructions to arrive at a model answer or artefact is using a recipe. There was no creative customising or critical hacking. There was no self-direction or agency. There was little, if any, problem-seeking, planning, or problem-solving.

Video source

As I watched this YouTube video about a maker-cosplayer building his own K-2S0 “costume”, I wondered about what “maker spaces” represent in schools.

Are these places good-to-haves or must-haves? Are they PR showcases or actual tinkering spaces? Are activities driven partly by curriculum, or largely by passion?

What are the honest answers to these questions? What are the hard truths and blatant lies we have to face up to about maker spaces?

In my opinion, maker spaces should be built on just one foundation: Learner passion. This allows any learning environment to be a “maker space”, even a conventional and seemingly resource-poor one. Learners make and make do in these circumstances and in any subject.

I am not just making this up. Reflect on what is important about maker spaces and you might arrive at a similar conclusion. 

Bay Area Maker Faire 2008 by 1lenore, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  1lenore 

My RSS feed led me to a quotation Scott McLeod picked out from a comment at rethink. redesign. (go!).

That quote was:

“Don’t turn on the computer until you are told to do so,” “don’t pick up your markers until you are given permission,” “wait for instructions,” “sit patiently until I get to you.” It’s mind-boggling that there are any makers in this world over the age of 10.

This reminds me of that fact that we often create and learn in spite of school, not because of it.

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