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SXSWedu 2013

Children's Innovation Project

This session will explore questions around implications for learning when technology is approached as raw material. Stories from Kindergarteners describing circuits and answering questions such as: "why does polarity matter?", "what can a potentiometer do?" or "when you you need a parallel circuit?" will be layered with stories from a college-level art course entitled: Introduction to Electronics and Computing Studio.

Further, we will explore divergent notions of technology held by schools. For example, how is it possible that we engage in a completely immersive technology-centered curriculum for an entire year, but the end-of-year technology survey results in an evaluation of zero technology use in the classroom? What we can learn from this disconnect to help us better understand how to design, build and evaluate effective models for technology-based learning, models that can be a foundation not only for young children's education, but for learners of all ages and contexts.

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  1. What does it mean to think of technology as raw material? Instead of viewing technology as a tool for learning, we have learned the power of having students create with technology as raw material. Students build simple circuits, take apart/reassemble electronic toys and create new artistic expressions. There is something in the manipulation of building with technology that allows not only development in language/logic, but also increased rigor in developing habits of precision and persistence.
  2. Why is technology an appropriate central thread in an interdisciplinary curriculum? As we navigate current conversations around STEM and Maker Spaces, we continue to come back to the idea of technology as material, technology as idea, technology as a space for connection, technology as a way to bring mathematics, music, visual art, language, engineering, science, social studies into contexts where students of all ages can create meanings and expressions that matter to them in the world.
  3. How can creativity be used as a primary vehicle of learning, equally (and simultaneously) to achieve high level expressive and technical outcomes? We focus on exploratory learning spaces that encourage students to collaborate and create something new with various technological parts, instead of narrow tasks that focus on creating a specific form or focus only on efficiency. Creativity then becomes a space where interdisciplinary thought emerges and expressive forms for innovation expand.



Melissa Butler, Teacher, Pittsburgh Public Schools

Meta Information:

  • Event: EDU
  • Format: Workshop
  • Track: Best Practices and Pedagogy
  • Session Focus Area
  • Level: Intermediate
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