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Weekend Reading: Creative Learning Edition

For the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in the MIT Media Lab Learning Creative Learning “MOOC.” All the session videos are available online, including a great discussion of Making & Constructionism. I’ve enjoyed the course’s fairly active Google + community most of all, as participants share their own experiments with learning creativity (and creatively) across a broad range of backgrounds and environments. This week’s readings are inspired by some of the conversations happening throughout that course.

  • LCL participant Rosa Aleman wrote a reflection on “Scratch & New Ways of Seeing“:  ”Personally, I’m still learning fluency in the medium of coding– but what Scratch has done for me is given me a powerful concept to explore in the real world. I try to set up my collaborative projects and activities much like the interface of Scratch— offering with each project or theme a variety of materials, a diverse set of tools and options for blending and combining different mediums — this helps me to support young people in the process of exploration and of thinking of themselves as designers in action.
  • Professional cartoonist Lynda Barry has been teaching an incredible course at the University of Wisconsin Madison this semester called “The Unthinkable Mind.” The course is described as “A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (the original digital devices) to help us figure out a problem.” Check out the full visual description and the course tumblr of projects and handouts.
  • An older article that takes on new meaning in light of discussions on making in the classroom, Paul Graham’s “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” discusses why making things happens on a different schedule:  ”there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.” Faculty meetings–and for that matter, short classes–often fit a manager’s schedule more than they do the process of making things.
  • Nick Montfort offers a provocation on the technical report scholarly form in his article “Beyond the Journal and the Blog: The Technical Report for Communication in the Humanities” in Amodern 1: The Future of the Scholarly Journal“On the one hand is publication as it is recognized by the academy, for instance as it participates in tenure and promotion evaluation. On the other, there is communication that serves the intellectual purpose of fostering what Vannevar Bush called the “great record” of scholarship and research. What if these are indeed two separate hands? What if technical reports, which have existed since the early 20th century, succeed quite well at the latter while not participating in the former?” I highly recommend the entire issue.
  • Experiments with digital creativity inevitably accompany discussions of copyright. In Hybrid Pedagogy, Robin Wharton’s article “Of Icebergs and Ownership: A Common Sense Approach to Intellectual Property” offers some starting points: “Instead of taking decisions out of the hands of students by establishing bright lines about what they may and may not do with their own and others’ work, we should instead concentrate on the pedagogical goal of helping them hone their rhetorical awareness. As a general rule, addressing intellectual property issues as part of the rhetorical context within which students are working can help them cultivate a better understanding of discipline-specific attitudes towards ownership, sharing, and attribution.

Digital making and creativity is also in the spotlight thanks to the recently-launched Code.org non-profit, which is pushing for earlier and better education in computer coding. Check out their video introduction below:

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by opensourceway]

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