Making Educators into Makers: Understanding the Impact and Potential of Making for Teacher Education and the Classroom

By Steven Greenstein

Each of the presenters has been creating learning experiences and conducting research with pre-service and in-service elementary and secondary school teachers that engages them in making/designing practices and processes. Integrating these inquiry-oriented engagement experiences into teacher education courses proceeds from the hypothesis that by focusing on content and requiring disciplinary collaboration and interdisciplinary interactions, making provides a viable context for cultivating growth in a number of areas. Specifically, inquiry-based making likely supports informing and revealing teachers’ discipline-specific beliefs about the nature of domain-related activity, their models of knowing and learning, and their technological, pedagogical, and curricular thinking. Moreover, as learners engage in these practices and processes to design and fabricate new tools to support learning their content areas, we anticipate that this engagement diversifies pathways to understanding the complex challenges of teaching and learning, prepares educators for a STEM-infused changing world, and supports the development of 21st Century skills.

With the use of Human-Centered Interaction Design supported via 3D printing, laser cutting, littleBits, Makey Makey and other prototyping tools, thinking and making are mutually informing, leading pre-service and in-service teachers to new ideas that leverage emerging technologies in actual design experiments. These experiments afford embodied, networked, and tool-centric engagement that we understand as meaningful learning, centered in the direct experience of domain-related activity.

SESSION STRUCTURE: The presenters will illustrate features of their research projects with particular emphases on the roles that making and designing take and the range of theories that are informing them. They will present some initial findings and student projects along with the technologies that were used to create them.
TAKE-AWAYS: Participants will leave this session with seeds of ideas about how they might establish, design, and then make use of making and design practices and processes to support teaching and learning.

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