The Practice of Learning

“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Tag: Assignment 1

MakEY Makes Deep Connections: Final Thoughts Before My Final Inquiry

My aim at the onset of EDCI: Interactive and Multuimedia Learning had been “to find new and accessible ways to incooperate ideas regarding technology that come from communities outside of North America” (Welcome Post, Sep 2019). However, course readings and resources, sources referenced by classmates, and related articles I came across along the way, have all together led me down a different path.

Here is the evolution of my inquiry questions thus far: How is technology being approached in ECE environments in countries outside N.America? To: Is there evidence of pedagogy that presents digital technology holistically? And finally: Can “Making” support digital literacy in Early Years Education?

During the formulation of my last post, on a hunt for media related to Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins et al., 2006), I came across a playful and opinative video that initiated a fresh line of reasoning. Have a watch:

One specific statement made by Jenkins (2009) evoked memories of similar statements made by Galloway with regard to making:

“We learn by failing. We learn by making mistakes, and doing something over, and doing it better. When our schools make failure fatal they cut themselves off from the most vital process of learning there is. That is, learning through our own mistakes, thinking critically at our own behaviour.” -Jenkins

Both in conversation with our class during a recent video chat (Nov 2019), and through her MEd Project (2015), Galloway articulated the importance of a “Growth Mindset” and leaving room for error. In addition, Marsh et al., in their MakEY publication, entitled Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review, made reference to the value present in failing and the reflection invariably connected to it (Marsh et al., 2017).

The aforementioned connections led to a consideration of other links that might exist between the making presented in both Galloway’s (2015) work and several MakEY project publications (Marsh et al., 2017,2018), and the new media education presented by Jenkins et al. (2006). I began to distinguish similarities amongst philosophies surrounding both creativity and citizenship. Ultimately, the above YouTube video led me to my final inquiry question.

However, before I present my final post connected to Assignment 2 in EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia LearningI feel it is necessary to provide a short introduction to Making, Makerspaces, and MakEY 

In 2005, Dale Dougherty founded Make Magazine and, some would argue, popularized the term making (Marsh et al., 2017). Dougherty (2013) described the mindset of a maker as one of a growth mindset: a belief that anything can be accomplished as long as one is equipped with the knowledge required to do so (p.10). The Make Magazine, and subsequent Maker Faire in 2006, marked the beginning of the “do it yourself” culture known as the Maker Movement (Marsh et al., 2017). In 2006, innovator and entrepreneur, Mark Hatch, founded Techshop, a for profit makerspace in California, and later wrote The Maker Movement Manifesto (2013). In The Maker Movement Manifesto (2013), Hatch outlines what he considered to be the core principles of the Maker Movement:

MAKE – Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.

SHARE – Sharing what you have made and what you know about making with others [..]. You cannot make and not share.

GIVE – There are few things more selfless and satisfying than giving away something you have made.

LEARN – You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master craftsman, but you will still learn, want to learn and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share.

TOOL UP – You must have access to the right tools for the project to hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do.

PLAY – Be playful with what you are making, and you will be surprised, excited and proud of what you discover.

PARTICIPATE – Join the Maker Movement and reach out to those around you […].

SUPPORT – This is a movement, and it requires emotional, intellectual, financial, political and institutional support. The best hope for improving the world is us, and we are responsible for making a better future.

CHANGE – Embrace the change that will naturally occur as you go on the maker journey. Since making is fundamental to what it means to be human, you will become a more complete version of you as you make.

-Hatch, 2013

At its outset, innovation and ingenuity were recognized as key components of maker culture, along with the development of certain craft skills (Marsh et al., 2017), however, today’s maker culture welcomes a myriad of making experiences and represents an inclusive environment within which to create (Schrock, 2014).

Making itself is deeply rooted in the values of constructivism and bears close resemblance to the succeeding constructionist learning theory set forth by Seymour Papert (1980). Making provides space and opportunity for makers to construct knowledge through experiementation, in a space that motivates curiosity, hands-on experiences, and self directed learning (Dewey, 1902). Mistakes and miscalculations are also considered an important part of maker culture as with them comes opportunity to think criticaly, value persistence, overcome difficulties, and generate collaboration amongst learners (Galloway, 2015; Martin, 2015).

Makerspaces refer to collective spaces that supply individuals with an environment to create through hands-on effort. Using the materials at hand, makers are free to work on a project that is either personally or collectively meaningful. In addition, the specific materials provided in a makerspace are considered the “glue” that pulls makers together for collaborative, creative work (Marsh et al.,2017). The teaching-learning practices and demographics within makerspaces are often wide in scope as they include an assortment of ages, genders, levels of understanding and proficiencies (Halverson &Sheridan, 2014). Therefore, makerspaces often promote peer collaboration and introduce fresh perspectives on teacher-learner dynamics (Marsh et al.,2017).

Image by MakEY retrieved from https://makeyproject.eu

Today, makerspaces are more widely recognized for their educational value, specifically with regard to their ability to promote problem-solving skills and the development of competences connected to engineering, creative design, and innovation (Stager, 2013). In addition, more and more literature is being produced that explores the value of making and makerspaces in the development of digital literacy, including several publications presented by the MakEY project.

The MakEY project encompasses several small scale, qualitative research projects, in seven European countries and the USA, that aim to examine the way in which making can contribute to children’s digital literacy and creative design skills (“Makey Project”, 2019). All workshops or projects undertaken by MakEY are observed by a team of researchers who utilize recorded observations, field notes, photos and/or video recordings, and, in some cases, footage collected from children wearing GoPro cameras (Marsh et al., 2018).

The few documentations I have observed from MakEY, demonstrate how technology can be incoporated into early learning environments in deep and meaningful ways: the children involved were provided an opportunity to construct knowledge corresponding to their natural environments, their communities, medians (both digital and tactile), and the culture of creating.

MakEY sets forth, as does Galloway (2015) and Jenkins et al. (2006), in their respective works, that intregrating pedagogies connected to design can benefit learners because they encourage mistakes, repetitive operations, and reflection (Marsh et al., 2017).

Until next time. Thanks for reading,

EJ

Up next … Final post connected to Assignment 2 (look for the tag)

References

Dewey, J. (1902). The child and the curriculum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Dougherty, D. (2013). The maker mindset. Design, make, play: Growing the next Generation of STEM Innovators, 7–11.

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

Halverson, E.R., & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), p 495–504.

Hatch, M. (2013). The Maker Movement Manifesto. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jenkins, H (2006). Confronting the challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Chicago, IL. Retrieved from http://www.oapen.org/download/?type=document&docid=1004003

Marsh, J., Arnseth, H.C. and Kumpulainen, K. (2018) Maker Literacies and Maker Citizenship in the MakEY (Makerspaces in the Early Years) Project. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 2(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030050

Marsh, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nisha, B., Velicu, A., Blum-Ross, A., Hyatt, D., Jónsdóttir, S.R., Levy, R., Little, S., Marusteru, G., Ólafsdóttir, M.E., Sandvik, K., Scott, F., Thestrup, K.,Arnseth, H.C., Dýrfjörð, K., Jornet, A., Kjartansdóttir, S.H., Pahl, K., Pétursdóttir, S. and Thorsteinsson, G. (2017) Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review. University of Sheffield: MakEY Project.

Martin, L. (2015). The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 5(1), p 30–39.

Pfbconvergencia. (Oct 12, 2009) Proyecto Facebook [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MmEFefoe-9U

Schrock, A. (2014). “Educationindisguise”: Culture of a hacker and makerspace. Interactions: UCLA. Journal of Education and Information Studies, 10 (1), p 1-25. Retrieved from: http:// escholarship.org/uc/item/0js1n1qg

Stager, G. S. (2013). Papert’s prison fab lab : Implications for the maker movement and education design. IDC ’13 Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction, p 487–490.

Projectors as Digital Tool and Medium in Practice

Besides it’s use in pedagogical narration, digital technology most often appears in my learning environments in the form of computer projectors. We also regulary use non-digital light projectors. Both types of projectors have constitently been photographed as present in Reggio Emilia schools.

Photo retrieved from https://wordpress.wiu.edu/ilaecte/2016/10/16/let-there-be-light/

Over the last several weeks, we have been collecting digital photographs from our families via email, which are representative of our children’s lives outside of our classroom. Our intention is to have the children’s “home” photographs projected onto our walls and on our projector screen (which hangs from the ceiling in the middle of our room).

We are beginning to develop a hypothesis connected to empathy and hope that our wall projections will spark converstations, thoughts, considerations of self and the other.  The art, construction, converstations, play etc. that takes place in our class will be recorded using our phones’ photo, video, and voice applications. We also have hard-copy family photos and pedagogical narrations interspersed in our classroom and continue to use pencil and paper to record our observations.

As we continue down our current path of inquiry myself and my co-educator explore different ways to point the children’s focus inwards towards discovery of self and outwards towards the relationship between self and others.  Though much of our investigation so far has included conventional mediums such as mirrors, tape measures, markers, pencil crayons, pencils, charcoal, paper, scissors, converstations, clay, sticks, blocks, literature etc. we are invariably searching for new methods and materials to connect in.

In hunting for digital mediums to draw into our inquiry, I came across a post by a fellow classmate that included the article by Cowan (2016), Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Her article outlined some digital languages in practice and happened to include an exploration of body and movement entitled: Exploring the body in digital and non-digital combinations. The arts space (atelier) used for the inquiry provided opportunity for numerous forms of expression, as it set out digital tools that inlcuded an iPad (set up with motion capture software), webcam, digital microscopes, and a computer projector, alongside non-digital materials such as wooden figures, mirrors, magnifiers, clay, wire, paper, and paints.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Art spaces (ateliers) that include a host of mediums, materials, and disciplines are common practice in Reggio Emilia inspired environments, as they allow for multiple modes of thought and expression. However, I have drawn connections to my own inquiry with the body exploration presented by Cowan (2016) and hope to bring some of the digital ponderings into our classroom. One specific experience described educators projecting digital images onto an art easel that had been set up with paper and paint. I hope to transplant the latter into our class, by offering the children an opportunity to ‘paint’ on their digital self-portraits.

I feel priviledged to be able work in an Early Learning environment that fosters the inclusion of unconventional materials and refrains from following learning schedules or timelines. At the same time, I am also aware that the approach that allows for such beautiful fluidity in teaching and learning also tends to keep digital technology on the periphery of its philosophy. Digital tools and mediums are as essential to the Reggio Emilia philosophy as any other tool or mediam. Yet, digital technology plays a much bigger role in our worlds than does a paint brush, a wooden block, or a piece of paper or clay (though each depend on natural resources as digital technology does). At present, nearly every person on the planet keeps some sort of mobile device on there person at all times, but not everyone carries with them a pen or a piece of paper.

My current practice, and the practices presented in Cowan’s article, remain focused on how to incoporate and use digital technology, rather than how to generate a deep and critical understanding of its production and purpose in our lives. It requires an outstanding amount of natural resources to produce one ‘smart’ phone. Still, despite the recent calls for environmental action and nature focused outdoor education, digital technology appears to play a perfunctory role in teaching and learning.

Consequently, I will continue on my hunt for a holistic approach to digital technology in ECE. In my next post I will present the MakEY Project, a Europe-wide project the considers how ‘makerspaces’ can contribute to the development of children’s digital literacy.

Once again, happy Sunday. Thank you for reading,

EJ

References

Cowan, K. (2017, March 19). Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Retrieved from http://digilitey.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/STSM-Stockholm-Final-Report-Kate-Cowan.pdf

BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education

In my last post I suggested that incooperating digital technology into early years education is not a priority in BC.  Is there evidence out there to support my assumption?

According to the government of BC website: “Digital literacy is an important skill to have in today’s technology based world.” The BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, first published in 2015, describes in detail what children age 5- 18 should be able to do, understand, and critically think about with regard to digital technology.

The framework outlines six main characteristics of digital literacy: research and information literacy, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, creativity and innovation, digital citizenship, communication and collaboration, and technology operations and concepts. It also outlines some ways technology and digital resources might be incooperated into learning experiences for children age 5-8:

  • Illustrate and communicate original ideas and stories using digital tools and media-rich resources. (C, T, CC, CI)
  • Engage in learning activities with learners from multiple cultures through e-mail and other electronic means. (C, CC, TOC)
  • Independently apply digital tools and resources to address a variety of tasks and problems. (T, CPD, TOC)
  • Demonstrate the ability to navigate in virtual environments such as electronic books, simulation software, and Web sites. (TOC)

Despite the clear and expansive nature of the Digital Literacy Framework, BC does not specifically include digital technology in its Early Years curriculums.

Technology is not explicitly included within  BC’s updated Early Learning Framwork Principles, though the principles do leave room for interpretation and the Framework itself promotes the incorporation of many modes for through which children can express and inquire. However,  the Framework does include digital technology in Section Three: Living and Learning Together under the heading Communication and Literacies. Here the Framework highlights the fact that digital technology is part of most people’s everyday lives, that it can support and promote creative inquiry, and that there are complicated concerns surrounding its inclusion in the childhood experience.

And yet, digital technology appears to reside under Communication and Literacies only as a point for conversation and as a mode for communication. There are no specific examples provided in the Framework for how digital technology might be incooperated in Early Learning environments (besides its current primary use in Pedigogal Narration). Instead, it is suggested that educators take time to reflect on the potential creative and negative aspects of technology. It is clear that Early Childhood Educators and the BC Early Learning Framework are still pondering over whether digital technology should actually be included in Early Learning Environments.

BC’s New Curriculum defines technologies as tools that extend human capabilities and includes technology under the heading Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies K-7“. However, the term “computational thinking” becomes included under the heading “Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies” starting with 6 and 7.  Computational thinking appears to be quite extensive and includes an awareness of coding, computer hardware and software (including troubleshooting), Internet safety, digital self-image, citizenship etc. By including specific learning outcomes regarding digital technology for the later grades, the BC Curriculum elucidates the expectation that British Columbian children be digitally literate, while at the same time it suggests that digital technology remain absent in Early Childhood.

Image retrieved from the Website of School District 47

It is clear, as I assume is the case with many of us graduate students, that British Columbia isn’t quite sure where it stands on the idea of digital technology in Early Learning. Such is not surprising as we currently live in a time that allows us access to a endless wealth of information, which generally leads us into an endless cavern of contradictions.

Until next time,

EJ

References

Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Ministry of Education (2015). Digital literacy framework. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy?keyword=Digital&keyword=literacy&keyword=framework