Sunday, April 10, 2011

DIY - From Atoms to Bits and Back Again

This week's readings helped me to understand DIY as a sub-culture of New Media culture that is emerging or has emerged right under our noses! Without even realizing it, we have been participating in activities and learning environments that are actually more complex than simple hobbies - The articles gave me a sense of understanding Crawford's Useful Arts as possible careers, while Gershenfeld's Fab Labs are places where anything you can dream can be created! All in all, I never associated that DIY could be extended to the workplace (for example, sheet metal creations) - I think of Martha Stewart when I think of DIY - but now I think of MIT Fab Labs!

Beuchley's LilyPad Arduino brings BIG ideas to the home front in regards to learning how to program toys, clothing, bags, and just about anything that can be attached to it. By making this so accessible to the general public, it opens the doors further to the creative markets and education opportunities. Afterall, if children become engaged in programming their own toys - they will learn all about circuits before they realize it!

Beuchley's article about the computational sketchbook also amazes the reader with all the possibilities one can do with such technology. I did have trouble imaging what this paper and paint can do - even with the photographs, I want to see it, touch it, and work with it so I can understand it better. How can teachers integrate this into the learning environment? What an idea to have the students and teachers learning how to use this together! Wouldn't it be wonderful to just drop this kit off in a classroom and tell them "I'll be back in 90 days to see what you all created!" Of course, I would want to have them creating tutorials as they were making their creations, just as the peers do in the Fab Labs!

I see this heading in the direction of classrooms evolving into Fab Labs - where students will be inventing and creating - sharing and publishing their work. This interactive learning that is happening in the FabLabs and with the LilyPad is the type of learning that children of the Tech Age need to have access to - in order to stretch and challenge their knowledge they already have developed over time using computers and playing with technology.

Finally, I hope to see more schools like Tinkering Schools and Brightwork Schools open around the United States. Places that embrace construction and flexibility will allow for more technical learning to occur. Afterall, having collaborators as your guide is more appealing to a learning environment that embraces constructionism.


  1. Your map reminds me of kids jumping double dutch. The arcs, like rope, tie everything together, keep it in motion, and make something very complicated look easy.

    I like the idea of construction coming into classrooms. As much as we teach to the idea that everyone should be able to learn the same material in the same way, it just is not realistic.

  2. Thanks, Charlene for your comments - I agree that it does look like double dutch. I met Bill Ayers today and he addressed constructionism in the classroom and I found it so enlightening to hear him discuss ways of getting it ignited in the community/schools. Of course, he makes it sound easy - when it is rather complicated! Right?! Again, like double dutch - making something rather complicated look easy!!!

    BTW he recommends reading up on Deborah Meier. I will be attending the brown bag lunch with Meier and Ravitch when they come to visit. I am really excited to connect what I have learned from this course - have you read Meier's work? -Kate

  3. @Kate - You bring up a lot of interesting points here about new materials and our need to physically see, touch, and experiment with them. There are some interesting implications for creativity -- for example, do you need to see some possibilities before you can imagine what to create yourself? I think so and it sounds like you do too...