open lab blog
BBC micro:bit and video-making at JTELSS: getting innovative in the classroom
Constructionism, micro:bits and videos, oh my!
Seymour Papert, author of the theory of Constructionism, pioneered and led the educational efforts of motivating learners to experiment, design, create, and explore the world around them by using technology. He argued that the best learning occurs through creation of tangible and shareable artefacts.
At the 15th annual European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning Summer School (JTELSS), we had the opportunity to share our insights on the power of learning-by-making for computing education, through an interactive workshop where participants were introduced to constructionist pedagogy and challenged to create a collaborative computing projects with accompanying video tutorials.
JTELSS was held in the beautiful region of Puglia in southern Italy, and attracted almost 100 Technology Enhanced Learning researchers gathering from around the globe to share their knowledge, collaborate on ideas and develop their research skills.
The focus of our workshop was to introduce constructionism and its application in everyday educational practices, so that participants might begin to apply these theories in their own work.
We began by outlining the theoretical background of constructionism, such as what constitutes “learning-by-making”, the role of technology in this pedagogy, and what kind of artefact creation could be introduced to support a curriculum.
You have 30 minutes… Go create!
In the next part, we challenged participants to apply these concepts in practice. In small teams, they were tasked to collaboratively create a mini computing project with a BBC micro:bit in response to a group-chosen scenario or problem.
Each project then had to be accompanied by an instructional video that would help others (e.g. participants of the next summer school) to recreate this same project. All of this had to be completed within a 30 minute time frame.
All the groups had a widely different response to the challenge.
One team chose to create a cooperative game based on reaction times, another team created a fabulous colourful light for Angela who missed rainbows.
Another fantastic creation was a DIY bike light for the dark nights in Scandinavia, so that Hege could travel safely to and from school.
To wrap up the workshop, groups shared their videos and discussed the things they had learned from the activities and the relevance of constructionism to their practices. There was some great feedback, and people were really interested in learning more about micro:bits and video-making in order to apply a similar approach in their own work.
So, what did Anna and Megan learn by making this workshop?
The session ran for 90 minutes, and this wasn’t always enough time for groups to fully form their ideas and videos. This short amount of time often meant that participants were still getting to grips with the new computing technologies, rather than having the time to be creatively expressive. One participant noted that it felt “more like learning-by-doing, than learning-by-making” as there wasn’t enough time to deviate from the support resources.
However, participants had some fantastic ideas about how they might begin to apply these theories and technologies in their own communities.
We had great fun at JTELSS, sharing our love of innovative pedagogies for learning (and micro:bits!). We’re already making plans for our workshop for the 16th EATEL Summer School.
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