Editor’s Note: Community Literacies is a new series by Curation Design Lead Kat Braybrooke that features Webmaker’s finest teaching kits and learning tools, and the user stories that bring them to life. Have something to share? Get in touch.
In this issue, we explore community-made curriculum that mixes together creative practices rooted in the physical world — from circuit-building to photography — with digitized processes of collaboration, co-design and attribution on the web. We’ll start by learning about a set of hands-on activities built for Hack Your Notebook Day by Chad Sansing, Jen Dick and David Cole. We’ll speak to Alan “Cogdog” Levine about his work creating a Thimble tool that helps users understand complex image searches, and we’ll end our time together by chatting with Jeannie Crowley about teaching the whole child on paper, even the digital bits.
This summer, NEXMAP and CV2 have partnered with Educator Innovator to offer Hack Your Notebook Day, an initiative to support educators and learners with useful resources as they explore how 21st century notebooking can engage youth in creative STEM learning. Inspired by the educational content offered, educator Chad Sansing got in touch with NEXMAP’s Jen Dick and David Cole to co-design a teaching kit of circuit activities together in time for the campaign. And from emulating a circuit in a group, to working with LEDs, to making paper circuits interactive, there is definitely an activity for all skill levels and interests.
From the beginning, the kit-building process was a truly collaborative effort based cross-national communication — illustrating the best bits of co-design methods in action. “During our initial call to talk about how the kit could work, we brainstormed a scope and sequence on a Google doc that became our shared space for copy, links, and planning,” says Chad. And how did the kit get built after that, given the distances and time zones between collaborators?
“Well,” Chad explains, “After our initial meeting, I started migrating text to the landing page and the series circuit activity, and wrote the Human Circuits page. Jen then shot and shared all the .gif images, and built the other activity pages, and both she and David gave feedback throughout the process on how to structure the pages. Since Jen wanted facilitators to have a go-to spot for troubleshooting, we added a little CSS to make a red section on the sidebar for that purpose. As we worked, we checked in once a week on a call, made minor edits in real-time using Together.js, and got the kit in shape as a team.”
What’s next for this group of circuit co-conspirators? Up-leveling the kit to include wi-fi hacks and beyond! Chad, Jen and David have already agreed to team up again and build even more activities inspired by #HYNBD, which is coming up on July 9th. In the meantime, they’d love more collaborators. To find out more about what NEXMAP and its partners have planned, get in touch with Jen, and to help build an activity for the kit, email Chad.
The Hack the Notebook Day kit will soon be available on the Composing For the Web section of the Web Literacy Map.
Sometimes, the inspiration to create a teaching kit comes directly from the practice of making itself. Longtime educator and maker Alan “Cogdog” Levine had been experimenting with various advanced possibilities of Thimble for a while before he discovered the way to build a new educational tool that scratched a long-discussed itch. The resulting Image Seek (and its accompanying teaching kit) provide an in-depth exploration of the process of image searching and attribution on the web for hard-to-explain ideas.
“As someone who loves photography, all of my webmaking — blogs, websites, remixes — have relied heavily on photos to communicate my ideas,” says Alan. “It’s always been easy to find images when you have a specific, literal subject in mind — an image of a computer keyboard, a rhinoceros, or a knitting needle. Search engines are good at these kinds of searches. But what if you’re writing online, blogging, presenting or media editing, and need images that communicate ideas, concepts or metaphors? What keywords might produce images that suggest concepts such as bravery, honesty, struggling to learn, complexity, aggression, trust?”
“This is the idea behind Image Seek,” Cogdog explains. “It’s not about teaching how to search (as a strategy) but instead how to use search sites (as a skill). It’s the difference between knowing how to hit something with a chisel, and knowing how to sculpt art with that chisel.”
Cogdog adds that he would love to see others remix the Image Seek tool for their own needs. “By remixing it,” he says, “you can document both your process and the information you needed to attribute… which is out there, but not largely tried, so I am eager to see how others have used it!” Cogdog encourages remixers to get in touch with him on his blog or Twitter, and in the meantime he will be exploring these ideas in workshop form at a K12 conference in Tucson, AZ next month.
Image Seek is now available on the Search section of the Web Literacy Map. Image credit: Clarence Fisher, evenfromhere.org
Sometimes, educators can be hesitant to include technology in the classroom. Perhaps it’s a problem of connectivity (see the Lo-Fi No-Fi kit on this topic), or perhaps it is simply an issue of empowerment, calling for better professional development. Jeannie Crowley manages digital media and learning at Bank Street College, is a longtime Hive NYC member, and has a background in using teaching to shift the way institutions use technology. To help educators who are newer to digital pedagogies, she has created an easy-to-facilitate icebreaker activity entitled “Teaching the Whole Child” that introduces the concept of teaching the web in the classroom.
This activity can be used as a lead-in to other hacking activities planned for the day, and has been built to explore the disconnect between the reality of the “whole child” approach to education, and participant perceptions of what that might mean in the context of digital skills. For Jeannie, this is an important discussion to be happening as the digital lives of students increasingly become a part of their lived learning environments. “I think if educators understand the importance of the web to young learners, they will be more likely to encourage active participation in the web as part of their everyday curriculum,” says Jeannie. She cites overhearing young learners’ extracurricular interests described as “wasting time” (ie playing video games), being “distracted” (ie social networks) and using the web to “interfere” with “real” learning.
“I developed this activity to help start a conversation about the importance of the web with educators who remain hesitant to incorporate technology into their practice,” Jeannie explains. “Its real exploration is the concept of the whole child approach we often talk about and how it might relate out work to technology, so by using powerful visuals in a hands-on exercise where we literally cut out of a child paper doll, we can examine our own commitment to teaching our children beyond the parts of their education we may deem to be most relevant.”
Jeannie is especially interested to see how educators explore the question of what risks we run, both academically and emotionally, by ignoring the out-of-school interests of children. She encourages those who facilitate or remix the activity to get in touch, tell her what’s missing, and add their own local variations.
Teaching the Whole Child will soon be available on the Community Practices section of the Web Literacy Map.
A big thanks to our featured makers
We end this issue with many e-hugs and food fountain gifs for webmakers Chad, Alan and Jeannie for sharing their great educational creations. We hope this issue has left you feeling inspired to remix, reflect and create your own! Have a great piece of content you want us to feature, or want to nominate someone else’s work? Get in touch.
- Want help getting started? Add your idea to the list of kits in progress and we’ll set you up with the right collaborators.
- You can also get involved with a Maker Party in your region this summer, or start one of your own!
- Or, join one of our free training sessions to learn how to make and use your own content with other learners online.