Monday, April 29, 2013

Session 7 Notes: Learning in Communities

I am a tad behind, but here are notes for Session 7 of MIT's Learning Creative Learning


Mitch Resnick

-Learn by actual design and creation and expression, not word processing or playing "educational" games

Other clubhouses around world
    -network of clubhouses makes process more exciting, innovative
    -each new clubhouse needs to come up with new way to incorporate principles
     -each mentor or community brings in own talents to space

Making things is a way of sense-making
      -making things to understand community around you

Success is based on people, people, people

Natalie Rusk

Beginning of Computer Clubhouses
      -Began as hands-on programmable LEGO exhibit-Kids were excited to learn and play -Kids were literally sneaking into museum in order to continue to program and play

Guiding Principles of Computer Clubhouses
1. Learn through design
2. Follow interests 
-interests can serve as entry point to other learning
3. Building an open community
-ecosystem of learners, kids helping each other with projects, adults modeling learning by working on own projects
4. Respect and Trust
-need this culture to take risks

How to people create creative learning spaces and bring themselves into it?

Geetha Narayanan

Her experiences
    -computer clubhouse inspired her to do things differently in India
    -how to bring open-ended collaboration experiences in India
    -why does a computer clubhouse model need to be reserved for after-school? Why not bring day long programs into under served communities in India
     -bring more than superficial engagement, but deep Zen-like depth

     -her vision of computer clubhouse
     -oceanic circles----bouncing pebble in water and hoping ideas spread organically
      -some projects include space, food (gardens to help sustain communities)
      -science and technology is not learned from textbooks, textbooks mean very little to poor kids who cannot read or write
       -labs in a bag
       -give kids a chance to understand world around them, tell the story of the world
       -tremendous amounts of art

Learning cannot be homogenized
        -multilingual for example

Generating stories
        -telling through imagination
        -moon stories
        - combining stories, puppets and scratch
        -kids tell their stories, their lives, their struggles through all available mediums
        -taking apart cheap stories and technologies and putting them together to tell stories

        -totally open education
        -we don't need to bring education and learning to a certain place, it can be for all communities, for everyone
        -much more self-organizing, like MEET-ups

The Role of Nature
        -Technology needs to play one crucial--bring disparate parts together to share selves with    others
        -Also need to concern ourselves with nature and the world, need to be able to understand Earth’s systems
        -Connections and sharing will help us to intimately understand the world

Develop a sense of gentleness
         -allow people to learn and remove expectations
         -allow people and families to simply learn organically, let them play
         -families willing to work together

Slow Pedagogies
         -based on slow food, slow cities, slow design thoughts of Manzini
         -walk around neighborhood or the close world around to start to understand
         -if it is slow it is centered around you and your community, this doesn’t mean you can’t share

How can technologies allow for massive “leapfrogs” in learning and understanding?
        -People in India may not have a lot of familiarity with Internet, but programs like Scratch allowed them to learn Internet, program, write all at once

“Pop-Up” Learning Spaces
        -allows mixtures from many backgrounds
        -so many different kinds of kids learning together
        - “slum” kids need to mix and work with all others
        -develop relationships

Go Beyond the “Hack”
        -more than take apart and reconstruct
        -kids and adults need to make something that is passionate to them
        -kids need to make to understand
        -make things with purpose, not just to hack
        -more thoughtfulness and deeper thought

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Blog

I recently merged this blog with my new project called Learning Creative Learning ( You are able to read new posts and older posts from this blog are there as well. Please check it out.

Posts from Older Blog

I merged my old blog ( with this current one. The labels were exported as well so if you want to read any older posts that may help a tad. As always, thank you for reading, Tim

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 8 Reads: Learning vs Performance Goals

Reading: Carol Dweck (2000): Self-Theories (Chapters 1-3)

Right off the bat, Dweck challenges four common beliefs about motivation and school success.

1. The belief that students with high ability are more likely to display mastery
oriented qualities.
2. The belief that success in school directly fosters mastery-oriented qualities.
3. The belief that praise, particularly praising a student's' intelligence, encourages mastery-oriented qualities.
4. The belief that students' confidence in their intelligence is the key to mastery-oriented qualities.

I can practically hear the boisterous choirs of non-believers and the cacophony of the unimpressed. Traditionalists will claim students must be showered with heaps of praise and need the self-confidence of constant assurance of intelligence. It seems so straight forward, if one thinks they are smart, they will be successful.

Au contraire.

We must think about how we define intelligence in schools. One is called smart when they work fast, never make mistakes, and get high marks. In essence, we call people smart if they can master the menial skills of the education system. If one feels that intelligence is fixed and any mistake is a sign of weakness, what will they do when challenged? What will they do if given a task outside of the traditional school drudgery? What if they are given a challenge that calls for perseverance, trial and error, and creative thinking? Dweck shows that these people, who are praised as inherently smart and intelligent, may crumble and believe there is something internally wrong with them. They may believe their very intelligence is in question.

Others may be motivated by learning or understanding a concept better. To these people, challenges are exciting and part of the learning process. Easy, menial tasks usually associated with school intelligence may be uninteresting or boring. This group of people may be better equipped for mastery as they can overcome obstacles, display wonderful resilience, and think divergently.

Can teachers instill this venerability in students?

The simple answer is yes. In order to do this, teachers must move away from performance goals and instead stress learning goals. Dweck talks at length to the difference between the two, but this chart provided by Natalie Rush in her session notes from week 8 explains them nicely. If we want our students to be persistent, lifelong, and creative learners, learning goals are essential.

*Citation for this chart is found in the figure.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 8 Reads: "Drive" by Daniel Pink

I read Drive two years ago and it remains one of the most important books I have ever touched. In my most humble of opinions, Drive is one of the two books every educator should read. The other being Alfie Kohn's Punished by RewardsDrive changed my entire view of the world, simply by showing just about every bit of common knowledge about human motivation is wrong. Not just wrong, but terribly, terribly wrong. So what motivates our species? Watch the video or read the book!

Pink also offers these short summaries


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hack the Classroom Discussion: School Structure as Impediment

I will be leading this discussion for Loyola Marymount's inaugural Hack the Classroom Conference on April 13, 2013

Hack the Classroom Talk: Innovation Days/ Life Long Kinder

I will be leading this talk for Loyola Marymount's inaugural Hack the Classroom Conference on April 13, 2013

Hack the Classroom Workshop: Hack the Textbook

I will be leading this workshop for Loyola Marymount's inaugural Hack the Classroom Conference on April 13, 2013  


Week 8 Reading: Mini Thought

How do you internalize learning difficulties?

Do you see them as challenges to your inherent intelligence, or as opportunities to learn new things?


For those of us that are teachers

Do we present new and difficult learning to our students as challenges to their intelligence, or as opportunities to present new things?

Fascinating excerpt from Carol Dweck's (2000): Self-Theories (Chapters 1-3)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Week 7 Activity

Find out about and visit a creative learning space in your local area.
By "creative learning space," we're thinking of a place in which people are creating projects --and learning from each other as part of the process.
Here are some questions you may want to note when visiting. You could focus on one or two, and share back to the group.  If you are already an active participant, share your experience.
  1. Projects - What kinds of projects are people working on? How would you describe the range or diversity of projects?
  2. Interests - Where do the ideas for the projects come from? Are the projects based on individual, group, or community interests?        
  3. Learning Community - Do people help each other learn?  Are there mentors in the space? Is there a trajectory of participation from newcomer to leadership roles?
  4. Values - How do people treat each other in the community? Are there community guidelines or values that are discussed or agreed upon?
  5. Space - Which aspects of the physical space support the creative learning process? What materials are available?

This is a Makerspace in Los Angeles. I intend to check it out in the near future. Unfortunately, I did not have time to due so this week. Will be on the to-do list. 

Week 7 Readings

Readings for Week 7: "Learning in Communities"

Origins and Guiding Principles of the Computer Clubhouse
 By Natalie Rusk, Mitchel Resnick, and Stina Cooke

 By Geetha Narayanan 

Creative learning does not happen by accident, it happens by careful design. Meta-design is needed to encourage designers. This design for designers is centered within communities where inquisitiveness, innovation, and motivation are nurtured by the group itself.  To push this idea to school reform, it may be necessary to rethink the idea of reform. Instead of a reform, why not a redesign?  

It is impossible to reform schools within the current structure. A reform is just a different form of the same system. The same structures, but maybe a new rule or two. A redesign of the structure is needed. The trio of articles propose designing communities of learning. These communities have little in common with traditional school. The communities discussed in this week's articles bring together learners, mentors, and experts on their own terms to learn about things that interest them. These communities resemble Ivan IIich's notion of Learning Webs.  

The Computer Clubhouse learning community discussed in the first article is built on four guiding principals. 
Principle 1: Support Learning Through Design Experiences
Principle 2: Help Members Build on Their Own Interests
Principle 3: Cultivate an Emergent Community of Learners
Principle 4: Create an Environment of Respect and Trust

These principals are the foundation for the design of projects, learning, and activity  It also forms the groundwork for community, an essential variable to building intrinsic creative spaces. 

Revolutionary learning communities are being successfully implemented in underserved areas around the world. The Computer Clubhouse aims to connect inner-city youth with advanced technology. The community provides a context for the technology. "In this way Clubhouses provide more than just access to technology. Youth in low income neighborhoods need access not only to new technologies but also to people who know how to use technology in interesting and creative ways."

In India, Geetha Narayanan looks to the community to build the concept of slow with Project Vision. "Slowness as a pedagogy allows students to learn not at the metronome of the school day or the school bell, but at the metronome of nature, giving them time to absorb, to introspect and contemplate, to argue and rebut and to enjoy." Slowness allows the learner and the community to place its own creative mark on time and space by asking people to closely interact with that around them. Time can be a valuable creative resource.  Narayanan uses the locality of community to reinforce community learning centres with localized values and culture. 

The questions flow...
Can we recreate these dynamic communities with reform or do we need redesign? Will these communities have to flourish outside of schools? Is the most creative learning done in "un-schooled" settings?