Category Archives: EDTC6102

Tech Etiquette ~ a framework for building classroom community in a technology rich environment

Before students can learn within the digital age learning environment, the environment needs to be one that is community minded, with clear expectations that students have created, agreed upon and are understood in full, with routines that are second nature and where all students have engaged in creating a safe space for all to flourish in. Tech Etiquette is critical for building and maintaining an environment that focuses on respect, learning and connecting with each other, not just the use of devices and technology.  Educators take time to create a positive, supportive and well-mannered environment within our classroom while offline and the same tenets need to apply when devices and technology are being used. This may seem obvious but I have yet to see this focused on as deeply as how students learn to log on to a device, how they carry the device, learn to type, creating digital portfolios or get to an app. Focusing on Tech Etiquette in the classroom will provide the framework needed for technology to enhance learning, collaborative relationships and a creative classroom that uses design thinking. This is important at any age.  I believe diving deeper into Tech Etiquette strongly supports ISTE Coaching Standard 3 for those reasons, at the very least.

For my graduate program, Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I have chosen to focus on creating a presentation about the importance of Tech Etiquette in classrooms. It has been an eye opening experience to think more deeply about what it means to teach students about Tech Etiquette inside and outside of the classroom because this is not an area that I have seen focused on. We often teach students about digital citizenship, how we act online and our digital footprint, but how we act with each other while using devices in the classroom is not focused on as often. There is not one right way when it comes to etiquette which is why it is important for educators to tap into what their classroom needs and what makes sense culturally, is age appropriate and what students want as part of their tech etiquette agreement. Below, is my reflection on what my presentation will look like if accepted into a conference or how I would present it as a Professional Development for other educators.

Length:

The length of my presentation or workshop will depend on the audience and location. If I was accepted to the NCCE, it would be for 10 minutes. If I were doing it as a PD for staff/families at my school, it could be up to 45 – 60 minutes. 

Active and Engaged Learning:

I would like to have role playing or real life scenarios as part of the presentation.  For example, starting with everyone writing down (or using an online platform to gather these thoughts in real time) 1-2 things they notice bothers them about tech etiquette and use in the classroom, workplace or personal life or take a poll using a tool like sli.do to determine if many of the issues are similar. From there, connecting to basic manners that we expect from students (and that we give to them!) and how we need to role model for them when applying these manners in a technology rich environment – looking up from devices when someone is speaking, tone when working together, taking turns, stopping when the activity is over (no sneaking!), how to hold, handle and take care of devices, stamina when things go wrong or get confusing, awareness of surroundings and others when using a device and more. Audience members could role play these scenarios or create solutions to share with the group as a whole with small groups working together.    

Using Prezi as a way to present and interact with audience and then create an action plan using Mural so that everyone will have the ideas and work created to look back to.

Content Knowledge Needs:

Common Misconceptions: Touch on the idea of digital citizenship being not just online behavior but how we interact with those in our physical space when using digital tools and resources

Specific content standards/objectives: 

  • ISTE Coaching Standard 3 – Digital Learning Environment
  • ISTE Student Standard 2 – Digital Citizen and Standard 7 – Global Collaborator 
  • ISTE Educator Standard 3 – Citizen, Standard 5 – Designer and Standard 6 – Facilitator

Address Teacher Needs:

Make the Prezi available to all so educators can look back at it, add to it and create a community to interact with as they implement the ideas into their classroom

Educators leave with clear ideas on how to introduce, implement and maintain tech etiquette within their own classrooms. The Mural tool will keep these ideas in a collaborative space.

Provide a video of in-class examples of teaching students these tools (this would be something done at a later date when I teach my own class, video tape it and provide closed captioning for educators to review and then fine tune for their own classroom)

Anticipated FAQ:

  • Home to school connection with tech etiquette
  • Breaking bad habits that students have already learned
  • How to train student tech mentors
  • What does a tech mentorship program look like, sound like, feel like
  • Dealing with adults and friends who model behaviors that counteract what we are trying to teach them to do with tech etiquette. 
  • Growth – it takes time to learn these skills and to be aware of when we are not having tech etiquette – the point is learning these skills so focus on the skill not the ‘bad behavior’ or ‘wrong way’. Positive reinforcement and helping students learn to be aware and shift is key.

Collaborative participation:

Student input, discussions and collaborative decision making around tech etiquette in their classroom will be critical is making tech etiquette meaningful.

Collaborate with other classrooms who are embarking on this topic and connect via Skype or another platform to see how it is going, what others are doing that is successful, what is not going well, the opportunities and successes. This could be done by connecting with other educators who are a part of the presentation or having a living document that educators can go back to and update each other and reach out for support when needed. 

Students could create images, media, and more around the topic to then use to teach other students which will promote student agency, motivation and pride around being stellar tech etiquette role models for each other and outside of the classroom.  Teaching awareness around how they engage with tech is a huge part of this.

Turning computer science students into software engineers

As part of my Digital Education Leadership master’s program, we are asked to create or modify a learning activity that integrates technology in a meaningful way. My project focuses on group assignments in computer science courses. Often, group assignments do not achieve the goal of giving students a real-world experience of building software with multiple programmers.  One of the biggest issues is that the instructor typically starts a group project by describing the chapter to cover in a text book or the learning activity to be achieved.  Such group assignments suffer from all of the failures described in Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), also referred to as backwards design.

Too often, computer science instructors use trivial games or a partial application as the basis of a group assignment.  Such assignments miss out on giving students critical, real-world experiences such as: investigating requirements, designing a solution, costing out the solution (in programmer time and difficulty), implementing the solution with fellow students/developers, integrating/testing the solution, and delivering the solution.

For my project, I want to follow the backward design process (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005) to give students a more real-world experience.  The backward design approach can be summed up by the following diagram, in which the educator is the designer:

Stages of backward design defined by Wiggins and McTighe Understanding by Design

I want to turn group programming assignments into a project-based learning experience for my students. As it turns out, the Information Technology group at my institution is in regular need of either new features to existing software or new software to address a specific scenario.  My proposal is to have students pick up one of these software projects, participating in all of the phases required in a real-world software development project – i.e., requirements, design, implementation, integration, testing, and delivery.

There are challenges with this project proposal.  First off, the software projects must not be too complex or too large such that the group of students cannot make any reasonable headway in the time given.  This may require picking only projects that are achievable, given the student’s timeline and skill levels. Another approach is to break down large projects into smaller projects, parts of which are given to different student groups.  Finding the correct approach will likely involve my working closely with members of the IT department to develop a list of potential projects. Today, I am not sure if any IT projects will be possible candidates for my students.

The positive side of this project choice is the opportunities it presents to the instructor to implement the ISTE Student Standard 2 Digital Citizen.  Students will have to develop an identity in the open source community in order to access required software in the public domain.  This will require students to use positive, safe, legal, and ethical behavior when engaging with other members of the open source community.  Students will have to manage their personal data and be aware of the consequences of using and sharing software with members of the open source community.

Stage 1 of backward design defined by Wiggins and McTighe Understanding by Design
See Appendix: Stage1 key – Results classification
Stage 2 of backward design defined by Wiggins and McTighe Understanding by Design
Stage 3 of backward design defined by Wiggins and McTighe Understanding by Design
See Appendix: Stage 2 key – WHERETO

Reflection

My initial plan for my project was to create a single lesson plan focused on requirements gathering.  However, in following the backwards design process, I quickly realized that students needed visibility into the entire process to understand this initial lesson plan.  The lesson plan then turned into the unit plan defined above, covering the major components of the software development cycle. While this turned out to be much more work than I had initially estimated, the end result is something much more useful and meaningful to instructors and students in three major ways.

First, the unit plan provides students a much deeper understanding of software development process.  Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe (p. 84) gives these six facets of deeper understanding:

  1. Can explain—via generalizations or principles, providing justified and systematic accounts of phenomena, facts, and data; make insightful connections and provide illuminating examples or illustrations.
  2. Can interpret—tell meaningful stories; offer apt translations; provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events; make the object of understanding personal or accessible through images, anecdotes, analogies, and models.
  3. Can apply—effectively use and adapt what we know in diverse and real contexts—we can “do” the subject.
  4. Have perspective—see and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears; see the big picture.
  5. Can empathize—find value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible; perceive sensitively on the basis of prior direct experience.
  6. Have self-knowledge—show metacognitive awareness; perceive the personal style, prejudices, projections, and habits of mind that both shape and impede our own understanding; are aware of what we do not understand; reflect on the meaning of learning and experience.

The various lessons in the unit plan provides computer science students the ability to explore the first five of these six facets.  In particular, the prototyping phase touches the first five facets by having the students work with a customer to understand requirements, define prototypes, and present results.  The last facet – self-knowledge – is obtained by asking the students to reflect on the unit, and suggest ways to improve or enhance any lesson in the unit. Software development is not a strict, universal process.  The goal is for students to find the process that works best for the team and realize that changes to the process are inevitable.

Second, the unit allows students to explore many aspects of the ISTE Student Standard 2 Digital Citizen standard.  Many people assume that computer science students are inherently aware of all aspects of being a digital citizen.  However, I have found that this not to be the case. I have several instances of students including code in their programming project developed by another person, and not providing any references.  Instead, the student puts their name at the top of the file, indicating that they are the sole developer of the code. When I ask the student questions about the code, it quickly becomes apparent that the student did not author the code.  When I ask the student if they would put their name on top of a writing assignment in which they simply copied and pasted content from a web site, they universally answer ‘no’, and recognize this as plagiarism. I then point out that, from a software point of view, that is exactly what they have done in their programming assignment.  This analogy is very useful in having students understand and respect the rights and obligations of using and sharing all intellectual property, including software.

Third, and lastly, the unit allows me to further explore the possibilities of project-based learning, moving my class form a teacher-centered process to a learner-driven experience.  In their series on making learning personal, Bray and McClaskey provide a spectrum that students move through as they reach the ultimate, entrepreneur stage:

  1. Participant – The teacher or a computer program provides a menu of options for learners.  The choices offered provide learners opportunities to showcase what they know from writing a paper to creating a performance.
  2. Co-designer – The teacher provides learning possibilities and then gets out of the way for learners to go on their own journey.
  3. Designer – The learner chooses topics and direction for what they plan to design based on personal interests.
  4. Advocate – The learner chooses a challenge or problem that they are passionate about.
  5. Entrepreneur – The learner self-regulates, adjusts, and determines learning based on what they want to do with their lives.

Students that become entrepreneurs have a world of possibilities open up to them.  Our role as educators is to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to progress through this spectrum, realizing that students will not follow the same path, at the same speed, with the same instruction.

Resources

Appendix

Stage 1 Key – Results classification

  • G – Established Goals
    • What standards or objectives are being addressed?
  • Q – Essential Questions
    • What essential questions will be considered?
  • U – Understandings: Students will understand that…
    • What understandings are desired?
  • K – Knowledge: Students will know that…
  • S – Skills: Students will be able to…
    • What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit? (aka Students will know… and Students will be able to…)

(Wiggins and McTighe, 2005)

Stage 3 key – WHERETO

How will the design…

  • W = Help the students know WHERE the unit is going and WHAT is expected? Help the teacher know WHERE the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests)?
  • H = HOOK all students and HOLD their interests?
  • E = EQUIP students, help them EXPERIENCE the key ideas and EXPLORE the issues?
  • R = Provide opportunities to RETHINK and REVISE their understandings and work?
  • E = Allow students to EVALUATE their work and its implications?
  • T = Be TAILORED (personalized) to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners?
  • O = Be ORGANIZED to maximize initial and sustained engagement as well as effective learning.

(Wiggins and McTighe, 2005)

Understanding by Design

Reflection, Six Facets of Understanding, ISTE-2 Digital Citizen

In my deep memory, I had 12 years of learning experiences from elementary to high school anchored on thousands of tests. The aim of learning is for the expectation of a high score in the final university entry examination but not for understanding. Coverage-focused teaching is the universal instructional design in the Chinese schools where teachers have to follow a set of fixed teaching standard for every lesson; thousands of students must meet the same standard by a set of continuous assessments. School is more like a factory keep manufacturing billions of artifacts (students) within the same characters. Something different will treated as bad or odd in which opinion the precious stuff is getting lost: curiosity, creativity. If you ask me “What did you learn from the 12 years?” My answer is “I am a good student on the test but not a good learner.”

As an educator now, I need to ask myself a vital question “What is the purpose of instruction?” In my heart, the purpose is understanding. We need to turn our view back on how much content students understand, did they have a deep understanding rather than I know it, or I got it, did the instruction has any intellectual impacts. As the educator, we must seek a way to develop students’ understanding, and explore evidence of understanding. From the book “Understanding by Design,” I learned the backward design providing a habit of mind focused on students’ understanding through every element of design as content-delivery, learning activities, and assessment. The template of UbD is like a map with a designed route pointed to the achievement of understanding. After learning the UbD, I started to pilot the backward design for a secondary photography class on the panorama unit. (Figure 1.1-1.3)  The book presents that when the six facets of understanding are all completely developed, mature and deep understanding happens. So the six facets need to be considered in each stage of design. Let us make the whole instructional design (Panorama unit) into small pieces to see how powerful the UbD is.

Knock the door

With the essential questions, students will get motivated on the panorama and move to deep-dive learning with curiosity and explicit purpose. The first activity of taking a non-panorama photo of the whole classroom will cause failure which can provoke students’ questions and think. Have them splice the pieces of printed photos to make one completed big panorama photo aimed to improve them in the understanding of how the panorama works. The students will discuss by the group and post a reflection on this activity to explain what panorama is in their mind and what caused the failure-Explanation. With this self-assessment, students understand more about panorama with tangible puzzle activity and teacher can provide support on any misunderstanding of panorama concept from students’ post. Students also need to aware of digital citizenship from considering if their reflection is understandable, credible to others.

Cross the threshold

Master Skills

After knocking the door of panorama’s world, students need to master the basic skills of taking panorama photos from a smartphone. With teacher’s coach, students will have different experiences through the practice. They will choose one of their works no matter the one that is successful or failed to share with the class to exchange the ideas of the tips-Explanation. Each group will create an illustrated chart collaboratively based on the sharing and summarized them to prepare for teaching younger students (The performance task). In the Let’s Panorama task, students will leap understanding by teaching younger students how to take successful panorama photos-Interpretation and Application. Based on the teacher’s discussion questions, each group needs to think over if their illustration includes empathy and post the revised vision on the group blog. Students will engage in a positive peer-assessment to give comments depending on the facets of empathic, understandable, and practical. Students will cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation which is essential to create a healthy climate in the digital world by the awareness of their digital actions. Also, students will foster digital etiquette and show respects on others’ work during social interaction online.

-Master Key Knowledge

The teacher needs to deliver the knowledge on panorama’s composition such as “C,” “Triangle”,and “Curve.” Students need to understand how the composition helps the photographer to express his big idea.  Moreover, students need to have a deeper understanding that the successful panorama photo has to include empathy between the photographer and audiences, appropriate composition, and creative elements. In the A Photo Critic performance task, each group will find a good panorama photo from online and articulate the reason why they choose it to demonstrate their understanding of the key factors of a successful panorama photo and reveal their own critical and insightful points of view-Perspective. Students will share their perspectives and provide feedbacks using the blog to present digital citizenship. They will cultivate a respectful attitude and give credit to others when they are using and sharing online resources.

Deep-dive Understanding

With the understanding of the factors of a successful panorama photo, students will create a panorama photo permeating the four factors to express their big idea. The photos will be posted in the hallway and students can choose the favorite one to narrate the reason anchored by the four factors to dive into a deep understanding of the soul of  panorama photos-Application, Empathy

Innovation- Mature Understanding

The big idea of this unit is to design innovative panorama photos through effective collaboration and communication. The teacher will show some supernatural photos and have students discuss and try to imitate them. In this part of learning (imitation, reproducing), the teacher needs to introduce the knowledge of the copyright to promote students’ understanding of the respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property in the digital world to reinforce their awareness of digital citizenship and demonstrate it when they work on the innovative task (Brainstorm).  Each group will post their design script of the scene and share with others through blogs, revise after getting feedbacks and create the final artifacts based on the design. Students will have a divisional role in this collaborative learning and demonstrate the full understandings of the panorama from different dimensions to make up each other’s blind spots to leap to the mature understanding.-Self-knowledge

An additional task on online interaction

Digital citizenship is not an isolated curriculum and also needs ongoing practices. It can be embedded into different curriculums, different lessons. Digital citizenship will be fostered and developed as a habit of mindset when students understand how important it is in the digital world.

In this panorama class, students will use the blog to present learning achievements and reflections and interact with others.  In the digital world, students need to understand the indispensable of building digital identities and reputation by ethical and positive behavior which is paralleled with the real world. They need to present respect and credit of using, sharing, and commenting on others’ online works to demonstrate digital citizenship. The teacher can implement a continual task to help students understand digital citizenship when they interact online. The task is “Chart It.”  This paper provides a lesson plan. “https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/files/uploads/classroom-curriculum/6-8-library-chartit.pdf”(Common Sense Media, 2012)

I suggest teachers re-create different Chart It Scenarios and student-assessment which are relevant to the specific lessons including unintentional hurtful scenarios, intentional helpful scenarios, and intentional hurtful scenarios…Each group needs to stand on the class-sized grid (Figure 2)which is combined with X Axis = “Hurtful” (left) and “Helpful” (right); Y Axis = “Intentional” (top) and “Unintentional” (bottom) in the same spot that they marked on their grid of each scenario. Students need to explain their positions and rethink their online communication if they are intentional helpful, positive and benefit others, feeling of others to lead a deeper understanding of digital citizenship-Explanation, Empathy.Teachers can reproduce the scenarios as a form of an ongoing task to cultivate the awareness and mindset of digital citizenship. I create a Chart it Scenarios for the panorama class (Figure 3)

Figure 2 Contributed from www.commonsense.org
Figure 3

Using the UbD to design pilot instruction for the photography class, I can find the power of the UbD in both teaching and learning. It scaffolds teacher permeates any six facets of understanding into different forms of learning activities and assessments and move forward to the completed understanding as the outcome. Students will transfer their understanding to abilities and build interconnection to benefit their future learning. With the emerging digital tools coming out, I choose the blog as the platform for interaction and demonstration which will engage students to build a healthy digital community to become good digital citizens within digital etiquettes and ethics in mind. A good instructional design will evolve into a great design over time. It will come through from iterative revises. We need to change some elements of the design depended on the students’ reflections and outcomes. UbD will always provide the right direction of the design with an explicit purpose of understanding.

Figure 1.1
Figure 1.2
Figure 1.3

References:

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design, expanded 2nd edition. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.spu.edu

Common Sence Media. (2012). Chart It. Retrieved from https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/files/uploads/classroom-curriculum/6-8-library-chartit.pdf

ISTE 6 and 7: Creative Communication and Global Collaboration ~ Digital Tools and Toothpaste


ISTE Student Standards 6 and 7 focuses on creative communication and global collaboration. Providing opportunities for students to engage in this can feel daunting when looking through all the available digital tools and curriculum. Since there are so many platforms available to enable creative and global collaboration, the real question comes forth, which digital tools are more apt to be used successfully?  To start using digital tools and platforms within our classrooms, we often search for what we should use and have to wade through what resources are ‘good’ and what resources are not. For myself, this often involves me going down a google search rabbit hole and emerging inspired yet confused about what to use because there is so much out there. It reminds me of how I will stand in the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Even though I know what I usually buy, I look at it all and try to figure out what is the ‘best’…is there something new that is better?  Sure, I could go with what I usually get but what if there is something better to whiten my teeth or freshen my breath longer.

Much like toothpaste, there are so many digital tools to use and ideas to follow and though it may be tempting to use what you always use, it is important to be available to other options. Many digital resources are similar so deciding what to use needs to be a combination of knowing what has worked for others (safe, dependable, engaging, etc.) while still being open to trying out new technologies – even if they flop – and picking one (or many) that work for what makes sense in your classroom. Knowing what has worked but being open to what is new are important ways to stay fresh, innovative and flexible while also keeping students safe, interested and having student agency and input!

A resource that can help educators learn about the many resources out there is Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration which is an unbranded, user-driven resource for teachers looking for projects and resources to collaborate with other classes around the world.  What I like about this resource is that it gives you a starting point with the option to learn how to use the guide (with a beginners focus), connect to global projects that make sense for your goals and then search through guides, curricula, communities and organizations. This is a great resource for UbD because you can pinpoint what you want to achieve and then find the right path to get you and your students there. Educators could take an idea or project they want to implement in the classroom and then search for projects and/or resources that have been successful and then launch their own version with the tools and resources at their fingertips.  

https://www.globaledguide.org

To kickstart your vision, it is always helpful to learn about classrooms that have had success and then look backwards to see how they achieved this. One resource that helped me to think about purposeful projects and how to get started was a slideshow from Channel Pro Network, 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms.  Each example had purpose and made sense for the classroom and community environment it was a part of.  Also, these examples reiterated the idea that creative global collaboration does not need to be cross continent or far away.  It absolutely can be, and what a wonderful cultural experience that is – the example of a North Carolina school collaborating with a Swedish school for a science project was wonderful – but it can also be what helps to connect communities that are feeling unconnected.  The example shared of schools in Kodiak, AK using digital tools to collaborate with schools on remote islands in the area meant that a communities that felt disconnected were brought together via creative collaboration. Another important discovery I made was that it is important to use a variety of platforms and resources at times.  There may not be just one ‘thing’ that does it all. The more we are aware of and open to new technologies, the more we are to be able to combine what we need in order for it to be personal, purposeful and productive – and most importantly – long lasting and creative.

I think when we connect global communication and creative communication together, the connection with others in this context opens up flexibility in creative thinking for students because of many different perspectives. In the Edutopia article, The Power of Digital Story, 5 factors are suggested to keep in mind when sharing stories but I believe it would work for any creative communication situation.  

The 5 factors are:

1. Create space for listening

2. Persuade with the head and the heart

3. Lead with the narrative

4. Amplify with images

4. Nurture the Process

5. Understand the tools (Dillon, 2014).

Students of all ages have a desire to communicate and storytelling is a meaningful way to share and learn from others on a variety of topics but even through science, math, global issues, and more, these factors can help influence empathy and positive communication.

https://hinessight.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451c0aa69e201b8d2c963d2970c-popup

Overall, I hope from this post that you will not stand and stare at all the toothpaste in the aisle and instead grab hold of one, or two or three that could work and start brushing. Use the tools and resources mentioned to see what is out there that could work for you, your students and the goals you are all working towards.  Shift to something else if it doesn’t. Be inspired by what others have learned from and experienced, add to the resource/project page on Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration when something does work to share with fellow educators. I tend to think I want a clear path that states exactly what I should to do achieve these ISTE standards but what I have come away with is that how it becomes purposeful is that I get to decide.  Instead of blindly searching, let’s look for strong examples and guides that can lead us down the right path and then be ready to forge ahead independently where it makes sense for you and your students.

And finally, don’t forget to floss – there are a lot less choices for what floss to buy so that should be easy.  This would be the ‘do I use a computer or tablet’ question which is much easier to decide!

Resources:

Channel Pro Network (2018). 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved from https://www.channelpronetwork.com/slideshow/5-examples-collaborative-technology-k-12-classrooms?page=1

Dillon, B. (2014). The power of digital story. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon

“ISTE Standards for Students” Retrieved from www.iste.org/

Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration. (2019) Retrieved from https://www.globaledguide.org

Tools for a flipped computer programming classroom

The traditional method for teaching a computer programming course is to have the instructor present language syntax and semantics in a classroom lecture and have the students work on programming exercises as homework.  In a flipped classroom, the students learn about programming language syntax and semantics at home through online lessons and courses and come to class to work on programming exercises. Students are then able to learn the computer programming language at their own speed – seeking out other sources and media types for any material that is confusing or unclear.  This provides a wonderful opportunity to individualize learning and leverage technology to improve the learning experience.

However, this does beg the question on how best to use classroom time.  Allowing students to work on programming problems at their own pace will mean that students will soon not be working on the same problems.  How does the instructor provide the best support and environment for all students? How does the instructor evaluate and assess the progress that students are making on a class exercise?  Providing a constructive place where all students can learn is a key first step.

The noise of this digital information can be overwhelming. It can create a numbness to the outside world and limit the ability to retain and reflect on essential learning. Because of this, places of learning must be places of listening that allow time and space for the speed of life to be digested in a meaningful way.

(Dillon, 2014)

In addition to providing a productive place for learning, I want my students to be able to share their solutions with other students.  I want my students to become creative communicators, as described in the ISTE Standard for Students.  This includes allowing students to select the programming tool that works best for them and then use technology to present their solution to the classroom.  Students can then explain how they solved the problem and what challenges they faced in building their solution.

My classrooms provide a computer for each student enrolled in a class.  Students have accounts on these machines that allow for customization and personalization.  Although the students cannot install any software on the machines, they are provided several alternatives environments and tools for building their programming solutions.  Students can also customize these tools to fit their needs.

An important piece to make this all come together is the classroom management software used by the instructor to manage the learning environment.  Fortunately, I have found software to help instructors with this problem – the Vision Pro class management software.  

An instructor can use the Vision Pro software to see the screens of all of the student’s computers at the same time.  The instructor can even visit one of the students machines, and provide tutoring and other assistance. The instructor can also display a student’s machine to the classroom, allowing the student to become the teacher, and instruct the class on how to solve a particular programming exercise.  This is a tremendous tool to get each and every student to participate in the learning process – similar to what happens when students use blogs to share opinions.

By creating an online place where people feel comfortable and relaxed, a place that affords communication and interaction at different levels and while using a variety of tools, both tutors and students develop a strong sense of presence that can help participants gain confidence in both their learning and teaching.

(Kop, 2010)

With Vision Pro, instructors can provide a safe, individualized place for students to build and share their programming assignments.  But there are still challenges that remain. The approach described above allows the instructor to keep the class together for small programming exercises (i.e., a few lines of code), but does not provide a solution for medium to large programming exercises.  

Fortunately, there is an approach an instructor can take to leverage the classroom management software for even medium to large class exercises.  By breaking down a larger exercise in to multiple pieces, the instructor can assign the smaller pieces to different students. If one student finishes a piece early, the instructor can have that student work on one of the other pieces.  When all of the pieces have a solution from at least one student, the instructor can have each of these students present to the class their piece of the problem.

In the end, the instructor can pull the solutions for all of the pieces together to show a complete solution to the classroom – or even better – have a student own pulling the pieces together and present to the class.  The last step is to use the Vision Pro software to work with other classrooms around the world to collaborate on solving computer programming exercises together, turning the students into global collaborators!

References


ISTE 5 & 6 Creative Communicator & Global Collaborator

  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
  • Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

As educators, we are facing a diversity of students in our classroom: different traits, different bias, different learning experiences, different backgrounds, and different nationalities. As the educator in an international school, how to teach global intercultural students to gain abilities to communicate and collaborate effectively as the 21st-century competencies is the critical question.

Background

We always think that it is the most significant advantage for international school’s students to understand and handle the variety of cultures and easily get engaged in the ways of globalized learning through effective collaboration and communication with peers who come from different countries. But in reality, students are too stressful to deal with cross-cultural learning environment within the barriers from different languages and backgrounds. They separate themselves into different groups by nationalities for both school activities and leisure time. The situation is further away from the goal to foster 21st century’s creative communicator and global collaborator. The international school provides a globalized environment as an excellent vehicle which needs to be driven to the correct direction by educators’ guide. Teachers need to pave the path for students to get benefits from the learning environment to understand the diversity of cultures, express themselves creatively, communicate ideas clearly and effectively, enrich and broaden perspectives by collaborating to gain cultural synergy on learning. We need to build their confidence, trust and empathy to enjoy and benefit from the global learning model rather than suffering from overwhelming and misunderstanding.

Educational technology intervened

Face to the diverse cultural backgrounds, we need to build a bridge between students through digital technologies. Teachers can provide activities to promote students to understand each other’s differences from cultures and bias. Through these activities, students will gain a fundamental concept of diversity which can foster respect of each other’s culture and empathy on differences. With the educational technologies intervened, teachers can choose appropriate activities to improve students to know more about each other.

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling is a powerful narrative activity for a different range of ages. Teachers can guide students to use Little Bird Tales, Shadow Puppet to create digital stories on a teacher-assigned theme with time constraints. DS will scaffold students to express their ideas effectively and clearly without pressures which allow them to practice with no-limited of time before sharing to peers and also grow up confidence in communication. Students will be motivated and get engaged to present themselves by digital tools with less stress. Teachers need to seek a deep understanding of students’ different culture and backgrounds to choose the appropriate story topics to raise their motivation.

Task-based learning through Web 2.0

Web 2.0 enables learners to create and share content through social networking in a dynamic and instantaneous manner which provide more opportunities for telecollaboration. In task-based learning, teachers face the challenges of raising awareness of intercultural learning. Teachers need to explore multiple tasks which meet students’ diverse preferences based on cultures. Students have the freedom to choose the task they are good at or feel comfortable working on and use asynchronous communication tools based on Web 2.0 such as Blog, Forum, Discussion board to share the reflections, solutions, and feedbacks. In this process, students can exchange ideas through digital platforms with which they can control their own pace without pressure and get the opportunity to open mind to the peers of other cultures with no-judgment attitude. It is also a good chance for L2 learners to get linguistic promotion from native speakers.

Teamwork learning through Web 2.0

Google Docs is a Web 2.0 technology tool that enables collaboration by creating, storing and sharing documents. Users can work on one document with others in the real-time without any limitation of location. Teachers will face more obstacles when they try to lead teamwork learning for multinational students. So in the learning process, the teacher is not only the facilitator also has a directive role. Small groups with multi-nationalities students combined teams divided into divisional roles (organizer, writer, designer, team leader… ) by the awareness of cultures is the threshold. Provide and receive ongoing feedbacks between students and teachers are essential for the success of the intercultural teamwork learning. The teacher needs to create a structure in which embraces caring, trust, empathy, and love to enhance students’ engagement and motivation to be global collaborators from online to reality to evolve into cultural synergy.

With the educational technologies intervened, intercultural communication and collaboration become more comfortable and evolve into a new form of learning meets 21st century’s competencies. For the international schools, students can utilize digital technologies to create a positive communicative and collaborative both online and real community where can help to build empathy, trust, and confidence to understand each other’s diversity. Technologies as the tool pave the way to scaffold students to get through challenges and obstacles. The administrator in the international school needs to provide ongoing PD training to help teachers have deep-dive on the understanding of different learning features based on diverse cultures. Teachers as the guidance, need to hold high awareness of intercultural learning to create a new method to accommodate the diversity of students. We need to use the globalized environment in the international school to benefit our students to be global learners who have abilities to learn from various perspectives by communicating effectively and collaborating globally not only in the digital world but also in reality.

References:

Lee, L., & Markey, A. (2014). A Study of Learners’ Perceptions of Online Intercultural Exchange through Web 2.0 Technologies. ReCALL: The Journal of EUROCALL, 26(3), 281–297. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=34805080-6d01-4424-9064-0f9399793a7e%40pdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=2014652087&db=mzh

Cultures of learning – vital feature of international education. (2013, June 10). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LsZ_-wp0nA

[TheBrainwaveVideoAnthology]. (2014, August 30). Sir Ken Robinson – can creativity be taught? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlBpDggX3iE

Dillon, B. (2014). The power of digital story. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon

Kop, R. (2010). Using social media to create a place that supports communication. Emerging technologies in distance education. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.) Emerging technologies in distance education (pp.383-397). Edmonton, Canda: AU Press.

Lampinen, M. (2013). Blogging in the 21st-century classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/blogging-in-21st-century-classroom-Michelle-lampinen

Ertmer, P. A., Newby, T. J., Yu, J. H., Liu, W., Tomory, A., Lee, Y. M., et al. (2011). Facilitating students’ global perspectives: Collaborating with international partners using Web 2.0 technologies. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(4), 251–261.

Markham, T. (2016). Why empathy holds the key to transforming 21st-century learning. Mindshift. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/11/16/why-empathy-holds-the-key-to-transforming-21st-century-learning/

Motivating CS students to test their code

Any software engineer in industry can tell you the importance of software testing in the software development lifecycle.  The quality of the software is ultimately the deciding factor on whether the software is ready to ship. Yet, very little time of a computer science student’s studies involve software testing.  On any one of my programming assignments, there is at least one or more cases of a student’s submission either crashing shortly after startup or producing incorrect results on valid inputs. When I circle back with these students on how this happens, the common response is that they did not think to test the particular scenario.  A group of computer science professors at the University of Texas have found a possible reasons for this result.

Software testing is a subject that can be difficult to teach, perhaps because it relies heavily on experiential learning; at the same time, because it is an activity that most students do not enjoy, students tend to expend minimal effort on testing.

(Smith et al., 2012)

Software professionals are acutely aware of the importance of software testing.  In the days of the waterfall software methodology, software testing was a distinct, end stage of the development process that was often performed by a separate set of software engineers.  Bill Gates made this observation about testing at Microsoft:

Microsoft in terms of this quality stuff — we have as many testers as we have developers.  And testers spend all their time testing, and developers spend half their time testing. We’re more of a testing, a quality software organization than we’re a software organization.

(Foley & Murphy, 2002)

Today, the software industry has moved to an agile software methodology that eliminates the distinct testing stage found in the waterfall model.  Developers are fully responsible for developing, running, and passing all tests on their code before completing a sprint. This model puts much more pressure on software engineers to produce quality test cases – a task that is currently missing in most computer science curricula.

So, how do we get computer science students to think more about software testing?  The start of an answer can be found by applying computational thinking defined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for students (ISTE, n.d.).  Educators define computational thinking as the process of applying computer science concepts like decomposition, pattern matching, and abstraction to learning disciplines other than computer science.  However, these computational thinking concepts are very relevant to the process of software testing. Computer science students can apply automation to the process of software testing and algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create automated test cases.

Professional software engineers use a test harness or framework to manage test cases.  These test frameworks can be complicated to setup and manage. Fortunately, there are tools that are much more approachable for computer science students.  One such tool is Jasmine, an open source test framework for building JavaScript test cases.  There are some terrific Jasmine tutorials that can greatly lower the learning curve for computer science students, and Jasmine is being used with modern JavaScript libraries like React and Angular.

Just making a test framework available to computer students is not sufficient to get students to write useful test cases.  While test frameworks simplify the task of writing and managing test cases, the students still need motivation to write decent test cases.  I researched how other instructors approached this problem – and what techniques were used to motivate students to write better test cases. I wanted my computer science students to foster the same work skills of collaboration, problem solving, and project management that is often found in many robotics classes.

Robotics is also a highly effective way to foster essential work skills like collaboration, problem solving and project management. It does all this while keeping kids so motivated and engaged that getting them to stop working and move on to the rest of the school day can be a challenge — a good problem to have!

(Gura, 2013)

A great article that shows promising results in this area uses peer review or peer testing, a process in which students try to break code written by their peers (Smith et al., 2012).  The study was done by instructors in the Fall quarter of 2011 at the University of Texas at Austin for CS314H, an honors data structures course in computer science. The goals of their approach matched my goals.

Our solution has three main goals. First, we want to make testing fun and competitive so that students will put effort into testing. Second, we want students to learn from each other, so that they can see how others approach the same problem, perhaps with a greater degree of creativity than they have. And third, we wish to illustrate the tangible benefits of good software testing by uncovering latent bugs in their code.

(Smith et al., 2012)

The instructors found that a majority of the CS314H students enjoyed the peer testing exercise and found it worthwhile.  Peer testing did involve more work for students – yet many of the CS314H students expressed interest in doing more peer testing.  This is a wonderful result, and something I hope to replicate in my computer science courses!

References

ISTE Standard 5 ~ Computational Thinking: Chapped lips and Micro-Credentials

I had a moment of clarity while learning about Computational Thinking (CT) – as an educator, a parent, a citizen and a learner, I use CT every day without realizing it.  The more I became familiar with the terminology of CT, the more I found it hard to imagine a situation where CT does not come into play at some point, every day, in everyone’s life.  Here is a video that helps simplify the CT problem solving approach and can help demystify what it is:

(I would like to acknowledge (my opinion) that though this video is a great way to simplify the CT process, a crucial next step to improve this video would be to include diversity and female presence, as well. )

hThe steps of CT are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithmic thinking. The more I understood each step within CT, the more I noticed that everyday there were times where I use all or parts of this problem solving approach.  For example, my daughter – who is 6 years old, has a tendency to really lick her lips in the winter and she gets that red ring on above her upper lip. This leads to her lips drying out, her licking them even more and then complaining that they hurt. I realized the other day, that my response to her was CT driven without me realizing it.  Here is what happened:

Daughter: My lips hurt, this is so terrible. Why is this happening. Make it stop and go away.  (All said in a distraught and defeated tone – this felt like a really big problem to her)

Me: Well, what can we do to solve the problem. Complaining does not make your lips feel better (classic Mom response I give her). What is the problem?

Daughter: My lips are dry and I keep licking them and it makes it worse. (Decomposition)

Me: Okay, has this happened before? Why does it happen?

Daughter: Yes. It happens a lot. And it happens on the back of my knees a lot. And on my arms. (Pattern recognition)

Mom: What have you noticed when it happens?

Daughter: That when my lips or my skin get too dry it gets itchy and bumpy and cracks and then we have to put cream or vaseline on (she has eczema and we use vaseline and creams on her arms and legs so it doesn’t get really bad especially right after she gets out of the bath – she is well versed in why over the last year or so!) (Abstraction)

Me: Okay, so what are some things we know about dry skin and how to help your skin?

Daughter: That I need to put vaseline on my skin after the bath so my legs and arms don’t get so dry and that when we do it every morning and night it makes it so my skin doesn’t get itchy. And that I should not itch it with my fingernails and if it is itchy then I should put cream on it so it doesn’t get worse.

Me: Yep, are your lips skin?

Daughter: Yes? (she was pretty sure…I reassured her that yep, lips have skin)

Me: Okay, so what could you do for your lips?

Daughter: I could put vaseline or chapstick on them. In the morning and at night. And I should bring some to school.  And if my lips start to hurt, I should not lick them. I should put something on them instead. (Algorithmic Thinking)

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/What-is-Computational-Thinking-Classroom-Posters-2541467

This really happened and we go through this cycle daily around a variety of issues! The CT process we used did not involve computers or digital tools BUT the possibilities are endless in how it could! Especially as she grows up and becomes more sophisticated in her thinking and uses purposeful problem solving like CT to reach real life solutions. Sure, initially this looks like simple problem solving but from problem solving, comes the next step, computational thinking. Maybe she could track her symptoms and gather data to better understand why this happens – weather, temperature, types of cream/chapsticks that help or don’t (we were using mentholatum for awhile and that made it worse!), clothing or bedding that irritates her skin, not staying hydrated enough, and so on.  Or maybe she could research the mysteries of eczema and use a computer program to track similarities to others who deal with similar issues and what works and what doesn’t. What about steroid cream, is it worth the risk? What are the pros and cons? My hope for her, besides less skin issues, is that if she learns to analyze and understand problems rather than feel helpless or just complain about them, she will develop the desire to solve problems and apply CT to all areas of her life – School, projects, relationships, curiosities/questions, entrepreneurial ideas, world issues, and the list goes on.

So, while a future computer programmer certainly needs CT, it is not necessarily true that everyone who learns CT should go on to learn coding. Rather, as computer technology becomes more embedded into the fabric of every industry, professionals in every industry need to be able to think in ways that leverage those computers to solve the problems of the future. (Enoch, 2018)

The National Science Foundation, ISTE and Computer Science Teachers Association began a project called, Leveraging Thought Leadership for Computational Thinking PK-12, to dig deeper into how to make CT more accessible for educators (Barr, et al, 2011). The long term goal is to recommend ways that all students have the opportunity to learn these skills and to ensure that they can be transferred to different problems and used in different contexts (Barr, et al, 2011).  When I think about how to best start the process of learning CT at a younger age, this made me see that if explicitly taught in simple situations, the leap to using it more deeply will not be a leap at all, it will be a natural next step.

In Computational Thinking for a Computational World, there are 10 micro-credentials that lay out key elements and pedagogical approaches to best incorporate CT in your classroom daily as an educator.


Computational thinking:

Key elements
- Working with data. Educator supports student inquiry practices using data to investigate questions and communicate findings.
-  Creating algorithms. Educator supports students in using algorithmic thinking to formulate procedures as algorithms and compare different solutions to the same problem.
-  Understanding systems with computational models. Educator supports students in developing systemic understandings of concepts by engaging with computational models.
-  Creating computational models. Educator supports students in using computational thinking to model the behavior of a system that has interrelated parts.
-  Developing computational literacies. Educator supports students in understanding and participating in computational literacies.

Computational thinking:
Pedagogical practices
-  Creating an inclusive environment for computational thinking. Educator cultivates a learning environment that provides students opportunities to build knowledge and express themselves through computational thinking.
-  Integrating computational thinking into curriculum. Educator supports students in using computational thinking to develop understandings of ideas central to a discipline.
-  Assessing computational thinking. Educator uses assessment feedback to support student growth in computational thinking.
-  Using computers as tools for thinking. Educator documents and analyzes the ways students use computers as tools for representing their thought processes and connecting their learning to that of their peers.
-  Selecting appropriate tools for computational thinking. Educator selects computational tools that provide the appropriate support to meet computational thinking learning goals for diverse students.


My initial question about CT and ISTE Standard 5 – What does Computational Thinking look like at each grade level? – was based around wanting to see how to teach it at every grade level. After learning more about CT, I have realized it is not about having a lesson plan that teaches CT in each grade.  Instead, it is about incorporating CT within a variety of contexts so that students become naturally aware of how to use CT to solve problems and how computer technology can help them better solve problems. The micro-credentials mentioned above can grow with our computer/digital driven future.  For my 6 year old, this may involve simple data collection with a printed data sheet and stickers to indicate when she has chapped lips and to notice patterns on when they are more or less dry as the months/seasons pass. For her older self, this may involve using a computer program to input data and have the computer analyze the results to see if there are connections she has not noticed with how weather affects her skin.  But in reality, for her older self, who knows what digital tool she will use to enhance her thinking because most likely, it hasn’t been invented yet. Which is exactly why the roots of CT are so important, so she can adapt and grow with the learning world she is, and will be, a part of.

Resources:

ISTE-5 Computational Thinker

Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

  • 5a. Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
  • 5b. Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
  • 5c. Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
  • 5d. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.

Computational thinking refers to a set of thinking skills, processes, and approaches to solving complex problems by drawing on concepts from computer science (Wing 2006). It involves skills as defining problem, analyzing and representing data, using abstraction, conditional logic, algorithmic thinking to solve problems. Computational thinking is a thinking process which is like a computer scientist to solve problems can apply to every area besides computer science. It is an essential skill for the generation who are living with ubiquitous computing in the 21st century and also the preparation for every younger student to adapt and handle the variable digital world with developing a mindset of mathematics, abstraction, and algorithmic. We know that CT can be grown in many areas as reading, writing, even cooking but as known, programming is the best and efficient way with which students will get challenges on problem-solving, debugging, program design, and implementation. Programming is a tough journey needed understanding many abstractive concepts and overwhelmed debugging for K-2’s students; Also a road with bushes for teachers with many difficulties in teaching. So the age-appropriate educational technologies involved and explicit learning objective building are paving the path to the development of computational thinking.

As the educator for younger students, we need to choose age-appropriate programming tools which can motivate active learning and also can scaffold to build fundamentals concepts. Low floor, high ceiling as the guiding principle for teachers to make a decision on this step. The programming tool should be easy for the beginners to build confidence and interests on a child-attractive interface to design program (low floor); also be powerful and extensive enough to satisfy advanced learning needs (high ceiling).

Chart 1

As Chart 1 shows, there are many kinds of programming tools fit the different range of ages. As educators, we need to choose age-appropriate programming tools to develop younger students’ computational thinking concepts. Following, I will introduce three typical tools and analyze their functions of the development of the mindset of CT.

Block-based programming app (ScatchJr)

The block-based programming app as ScatchJr can scaffold younger students to make project design through logical programming but doesn’t need to master the complex coding syntax which can motivate their enthusiasm and increase engagement. The block-based mode compensates for the limited of abstractive cognition for younger age and also can help to understand the abstraction of logical sequence step by step and build a connection between the codes and actions. ScatchJr can provide opportunities to lead a peer-collaborative “code to learn” activity. Students will not receive the knowledge of specific programming language passively but design a cross-subject project using programming tool actively in which process they will develop CT concepts from different aspects. (Chart 2)

Puzzle-based programming app (Playground)

Always the puzzle-based programming app can attract younger students easily because of a game-based interface. It is not like ScatchJr can lead a peer-collaborative PBL through programming, but it is an excellent tool for afterschool autonomous learning. From the Playground app, students need to solve a special problem (get the gem) by different levels. In the Playground, students can create functions for the repeat complex actions which involves algorithmic thinking and abstraction mindset. They also need to debug and test the solution iteratively before the next level. The higher level is, the more algorithmic functions need to be involved, the more complex CT will be developed.

Tangible Robot (Dash and Dot)

The milestone of teaching programming for young students is to build their abstractive cognition. The manipulative programming robot can melt the digital world with the reality that enable students to see actual movement consequence in the physical world. Dash and dot is the robot controlled by five apps from simple concepts to complex concepts which adopt the principle of a low floor and high ceiling. The Blocky app can scaffold students to debug variable data and test their programming through the movement of the robot. They need to analyze the data and represent data from the robot to achieve the final solution. In the Wonder app, students can make a design presented from the robot to create an innovative project. The programming robot reveals complex computational concepts into reality (Chart 2) and builds a bridge to guild students enter into the digital world with wonder and interests.

Chart 2

In the thriving digital world, emerging programming tools are being designed. The three tools above point to the majority of educational technologies for programming in education. Teachers need to analyze the students’ diversity of traits and choose the appropriate ones to cultivate CT for younger students. The appropriate programming tool can change students’ role from consuming media to producing through which they can positively grow intelligence and build CT when they deal with the logical sequence of commands; debug errors and test solutions iteratively; solve problems with algorithmic thinking. In the learning process, teachers need to set CT as the learning objective focusing on the growth of younger students’ CT mindset rather than learning a specific syntax and well-design problem-based, thematic tasks to support the fundamental concept development. For the younger students, the CT mindset is much more important than mastering a specific computing language without any meaning.

References:

  1. Estapa, A. aestapa@iastate. ed., Hutchison, A., & Nadolny, L. (2017). recommendations to support computational thinking in the elementary classroom. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 77(4), 25–29. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eue&AN=126504576&site=ehost-live
  2. Buitrago Flórez, F., Casallas, R., Hernández, M., Reyes, A., Restrepo, S., & Danies, G. (2017). Changing a Generation’s Way of Thinking: Teaching Computational Thinking through Programming. Review of Educational Research, 87(4), 834–860. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1147643&site=ehost-live
  3. Ching, Y.-H., Hsu, Y.-C., & Baldwin, S. (2018). Developing Computational Thinking with Educational Technologies for Young Learners. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 62(6), 563–573. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1193283&site=ehost-live
  4. Barr, D., Harrison, J., & Conery, L. (2011). Computational thinking: A digital age skill for everyone. Learning & Leading with Technology, 38(6), 20-23.
  5. Grover, S., & Pea, R. (2013). Computational thinking in K–12: A review of the state of the field. Educational Researcher, 42(1), 38–43.

ISTE-4 Innovative Designer

Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
  • Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

My Inquiry Question: How to use project-based makerspace learning for younger students to inspire their innovative learning within a design process to solve problems by creating innovative solutions?


Maker space is emerging in schools with a laser cutter, 3D printer, and hands-on tools which are built on purpose for supporting and motivating students learning within the design process. It will thrive only when students think it is a place full of inspiration for deeper learning. For younger students, maker space should not be a sacred classroom they rarely had a chance to enter in. It should be a playful learning space to generate brainstorm ideas. In the lower grades, teachers have more intervention on learning activities and resources, how they can use maker space to support PBL learning to inspire innovative learning within a design process to solve problems by creating innovative solutions is my question.

Every time I stopped by our school’s makerspace, it is always the battlefield for the older students are all high schoolers. They can handle different kinds of hands-on tools and utilize 3D or 2D design software to translate their vision into real products to solve an authentic problem by creating imaginative solutions. However, when you see the eyes full of curiosity and inspiration from younger students, you will realize that we cannot stop this age from innovative learning within design process which will benefit their future life in the thriving, innovative technology age in which they are expected to handle ambiguity and changes. Since younger students have limited cognition on complex invisible concepts, the makerspace as the transferring place can scaffold understanding and support them to turn knowledge into action and cultivate their ability to use design process for solving authentic problems.; also can scaffold using mastered knowledge to build new knowledge system from design and hands-on learning process.  In a PBL using makerspace for younger students, how much mastery experiences students have is not prior to seeking a method to trigger students curiosity and motivation to catalyze student-centered design learning. In order to cultivate younger students positive emotion and encourage them to use the design process for generating brainstorm ideas and creating unique solutions, teachers need to consider several factors when they set up the project-based makerspace learning:

  •  the potential obstacles and challenges students will encounter in the project
  • address students’ ability, trait, and potential talents
  • appropriate open-ended questions which can involve makerspace
  • provide a narrow field of choices within explicitly criteria and constraints
  • fit with available resources in the makerspace
  • Break down the driving question into several small manageable questions by DQB tool (Chart of DQB)
  • Analyze traits of users the solution (design) for with students

Setup a project-based makerspace lesson is a design process for teachers which need to analyze students to meet their motivation point by a motivative driving question which depends on teachers’ experiences and empathy on this age of students. DQB tool provides a compensative way to break down the driving question into sub-questions which are generated by students after investigation and sorted by categories of the learning goal. In this process, students get ownership and control on learning, and their concerned and interested relevant questions will be posted on the board which promotes motivation and also provides them a better understanding of the project. The manageable sub-questions can build students’ confidence and a positive attitude. The whole DQB process is also a big design process in which students can design their questions and construct new knowledge through a variety of technologies and activities with teacher-scaffold to solve the authentic problem. The teacher will act as a guide or a mentor to make sure every choice every action is on track to the end of the goal when students drive the learning vehicle to the destination. In the design process, teachers need to scaffold students to build empathy mindset on their design through discussion and observation which will be not only the critical element of a successful design but also a necessary capability needs to be fostered from a younger age.

When students’ brainstorm ideas are ready to turn into a real product, the makerspace becomes a knowledge output house to support PBL connected with the reality which is a good method for younger students that they can touch, they can see, they can engage, and they can show the porotypes. Makerspace is increasingly being looked to as a method for engaging learners in creative, higher order problem-solving through hands-on design, construction, and iteration (European Union, 2015). The soul of the makerspaces is not the 3D printers, laser cutter, fancy hands-on tools, but is the learners’ motivation and inspiration arisen by makerspaces. It is the place can motivate younger students creativity by a design process learning, but also a place fills with frustrated, overwhelmed from repeated setbacks which will be the biggest enemy to destroy younger students’ trigger and confidence on using a design process to solve authentic problems and create innovative artifacts. As the instructors, there are some factors we need to be considered in makerspace learning process:

  • Provide relevant expertise in time
  • Provide teacher-moderated guide in every small step
  • Provide teacher-intervention direction if necessary (predictable failures occurred)
  • Encourage students to be tolerant of iterative tests and improving on their prototypes
  • Provide processing praise
  • Ongoing formative assessments
  • Engineer journal required
  • Improve the prototypes kept the original ideas by better materials
  • Show audiences the improved prototypes and try to use them in real life

With the above factors being considered, it is still a tough journey for younger students to lead successful innovative learning within a design process through PBL and makerspace as strategies. But this learning process provides so many precious 21st century skills such as working collaboratively to collect intelligence, handling ambiguity with open-ended problems, using a design process to create innovative solutions, constructing knowledge from tinker. So as the educator, we must pull through and paving a path for our younger students to motivate their curiosity and creativity. As the storymaking project and plastic recycling project, you never known how much unpredictable potential our younger students have and how many incredible tasks they can pull through. How to deal with failures is the essential task while teachers using makerspace to support design process learning.  When I did my research, I learned that some schools use teacher-modeling prototypes to make younger students imitate. Imitation is not a bad method for younger students which can lower the risk of failures to enhance students’ confidence. But imitation will kill younger students’ motivation and creativity which is going to be far away from the goal of cultivating innovative designers. We need to discuss with our students that failure is the beginning of success. We can guide students to setup sub goals of their project to achieve a small step of success and praise the processing to cultivate their growth mindset.  As the educators, if we can leave our comfortable zone to take a risk using PBL with the support of makerspace to build cross-curricular pilot projects, we will be the good lesson of facing the challenges for our younger students.

References:

  1. Kitagawa, L., Pomba, E., & Davis, T. (2018). Plastic Pollution to Solution. Science and Children, 55(7), 38–45. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1172596&site=ehost-live
  2. Sheffield, R., Koul, R., Blackley, S., & Maynard, N. (2017). Makerspace in STEM for Girls: A Physical Space to Develop Twenty-First-Century Skills. Educational Media International, 54(2), 148–164. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1154092&site=ehost-live
  3. Vongkulluksn, V. W., Matewos, A. M., Sinatra, G. M., & Marsh, J. A. (2018). Motivational factors in makerspaces: a mixed methods study of elementary school students’ situational interest, self-efficacy, and achievement emotions. International Journal Of STEM Education, 5(1), 43. https://doi-org.ezproxy.spu.edu/10.1186/s40594-018-0129-0
  4. Bull, G., Schmidt-Crawford, D. A., McKenna, M. C., & Cohoon, J. (2017). Storymaking: Combining Making and Storytelling in a School Makerspace. Theory Into Practice, 56(4), 271–281. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ1161068&site=ehost-live
  5. Weizman, A., Schwartz, Y., & Fortus, D. (2008). The Driving Question Board. Science Teacher, 75(8), 33–37. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=eric&AN=EJ817852&site=ehost-live
  6. KURTI, R. S., KURTI, D. L., & FLEMING, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8–11. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=a9h&AN=96678445&site=ehost-live
  7. [The RSA]. (2015, December 15). RSA animate: how to help every child fulfill their potential. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl9TVbAal5s