We R Makers & ISTE17 Part 3/6

“He no longer cared about anything (as before) but now he also cared about everything in principle; that is to say, it was all the same to him and he belonged to the world and there was nothing he could do about it.”   ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Monday morning = Presentation Day

But first I had a 7:30 am breakfast meeting with TES Teach to which I had been invited a few weeks earlier. I use and recommend their product, Blendspace, as a great tool for organizing links and documents to share with students, colleagues, or to create your own reference file. It was a quick walk from the hotel and when I arrived I was greeted with coffee, a delicious breakfast, friendly faces and the wisdom of Jim Knight (@LordJimKnight). Jim shared his thoughts on the “unbundling of education”, comparing it to record albums being unbundled today as we select single songs rather than whole albums for our playlists. This led to a good discussion on change in schools and the role technology will inevitably play in affecting change. Unfortunately, I had to leave early in order to get to the convention center for my own presentation at 9:00 am.

We R Makers

Go time! I was excited to see my presentation, Educating the Next Generation of Innovators, on the screen outside the door of room 208. And the tech guy was there, too, making sure everything was all set. Although I had my own adapter, it was just like ISTE to even have “dongles” waiting there just in case. 

Time for a quick selfie with the group before starting

The We R Makers presentation is about using empathy and systems thinking to help our students arrive at ideas for making. With Makerspaces readily available in many schools, students have the tools they need to make whatever they want, but often need structure and support in developing ideas for projects that will sustain their interest and engage them from initial efforts through revision and ultimately, completion. This approach involves product design or redesign as a result of looking closely, considering systems, and the user experience. After going over the basics, participants formed groups of four or five and began with close looking and sketching very inexpensive and simple pencil sharpeners. I love the hum of participants working together:

When I polled the group about the roles they have in their schools, there were only three art educators, and one of them was me. The other two were my beloved art education friends, Laura Grundler (@grundlerArt) and Chris Parker (@kreyus) who came and jumped in to document the session for me. Best. Friends. Ever.

Everyone jumped in and followed the steps of sketching the pencil sharpeners intact, then deconstructing them and sketching the parts, all the while considering the systems around the lowly sharpener. Systems considered included manufacturing, mining and refining raw materials (I recommend www.sourcemap.com), distribution, transportation, the consumer, and the eventual disposal of the sharpener.

Once participants had chosen a system on which to focus, they generated a list of people within their chosen system. The next step was to choose one person and to use empathy to consider how the product may be redesigned to be more effective, more efficient, more ethical, or more beautiful for that specific person. This is where the design process begins.

This exercise is taken from the Thinking Routines developed by Agency by Design (@agencybydesign) at Project Zero Classroom (@ProjectZeroHGSE) of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (@hgse).

Once participants had redesigned the pencil sharpener to better the experience of the user they had chosen, they shared their products with the group. Here are a couple of examples:

Throughout and at the conclusion of the session, participants shared their work on a Padlet sharing wall here: http://tinyurl.com/ISTEweRmakers

This post on the wall cracked me up:

Bringing out the big guns

Presenting at ISTE 2017 was fantastic! They take presenting seriously and staff the space with attentive tech help. I have had disappointments at other venues before with insufficient wifi or lack of microphones or speakers – at ISTE, everything was there and in top-notch condition. Also, ISTE gets a bad rap in some circles for being too commercialized and all about product and technology gadgets. There is a lot of talk about education and learning at ISTE, perhaps some miss it because of the large Expo hall. The 150 people who participated in my session were engaged in discussions about learning, process, and innovation. They were sincere and a pleasure to work with. A joy, in fact, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if asked.

Another supporter in the room was Sophia Georgiou, developer of the Morphi App which my students use for designing models for 3D printing.





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