Posts tagged ‘Participatory Learning’

October 15, 2011

Luis Camnitzer’s The Assignment Book

by stephaniecorleto

At the end of his talk with Christiane, Luis Camnitzer said something that truly encompassed the purpose of collaborative learning and those who question the current structure of education;  “A good teacher and a good artist should aim at becoming unnecessary.”

Driven by profit, the commodification of education benefits from being necessary with a top-down flow knowledge and maintenance of a stratified class structure.  For Luis, both the artist and the educator are (should be) intermediaries of knowledge, and in his words “art is a tool for thinking.”  In The Assignment Book he poses questions, the pieces of art are his responses. Unlike a traditional art object, they are touched and changed by the visitors participating by posting their response cards. The hierarchy of artist/viewer, teacher/student,  art object/everyday object is removed with the goal of deinsitutionalizing learning and challenging these traditions.

Like Theater of the Oppressed and the photography anecdote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the disruption of traditional notions of learning jars the mind. No longer required to conform to established order, education revolutionary possibilities. Really, any piece of art can  be seen as something that disrupts our thoughts. Even if one doesn’t know the context of a piece, if it makes you stop and step out of everyday monotonous thought then it has succeeded.

Below are a few pictures I snapped on my phone in the gallery, ignore my reflection in the metal plates!

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October 11, 2011

“Do you really need a power drill, or you just need a hole in the wall?”

by Ariana Stolarz

This year’s PSFK Conference in San Francisco brought together an interesting blend of speakers to discuss issues in innovation, design, creativity and communal participation. In a nutshell, three memes surfaced throughout the day: the ideas of 1) Purpose—as in always design with a purpose, 2) Perspectives—in contrast to mono-cultural views, and 3) Commons—as in disperse but together we can build trust, facilitate sharing, and enable community.

Following up on some of the concepts discussed by Caroline Woolard in class ( and Trade School), Micki Krimmel, founder of NeighborGoods, shook the crowd most eloquently:  “Do you really need a power drill, or you just need a hole in the wall?”—A shocking fact: the average lifetime usage of a household power drill is only twelve minutes. (Check Noah’s post, published on 10/4!).

Joe Gebbia, Co-founder behind Airbnb, also talked about collaborative consumption and the role of the middleman. Most discussions (and Botsman and Rogers’ What’s Mine is Yours) agree that collaborative consumption examples share another common element: direct links between producers and consumers, bypassing the middleman.  However, what if we see these practices as the emergence of a new middleman? Airbnb intermediations present new characteristics, for sure. Yet, these new middlemen are in essence, connectors between a mutuality of wants and lacks.  What’s different this time is not just a matter of scale. The Internet’s architecture is designed to enable collaboration between non-related human beings who don’t even share a common locale. New notions of trustbetween strangers amend old definitions of collaboration, in particular, the idea that rules could mainly be enforced within tight circles of friends, families and acquaintances. As discussed in class, today’s examples of collaborative consumption, where reviews and ratings are published for the rest world to see, represent repeated plays of the prisoner’s dilemma. In other words, the incentives for defectors to pursue their goals are low when compared with the risks associated with being excluded from the game. (Airbnb is now offering professional photography to help make renting out your space even easier, and also as part of the verification of a property. Read more here).

Gerald Richard’s talk was unquestionably captivating. Gerald is the founder of 826 National, a nonprofit organization that provides strategic leadership, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of eight writing and tutoring centers. Its main goal is to foster literacy among kids. In Gerald’s own words, “It’s not home. It’s not school. It’s a place that kids own”.

Gerald shared this video with the audience:

More about 826National…

October 1, 2011

Rheingold U: The Social Media Classroom

by Ariana Stolarz

For those of you interested in exploring online participatory learning, Rheingold U offers series of sessions and ongoing asynchronous discussions through forums, blogs, wikis, mindmaps, and social bookmarks.

“If we do it right, we’re going to make magic happen: strangers all over the world will coalesce into a learning community in 5 weeks”. H. Rheingold.

“Instructor will be available for online office hours via Twitter”.

About The Social Media Platform

The Social Media Classroom is a free and open-source web service that provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social tools that each course can use for its own purposes (e.g. integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, social bookmarking, and mindmaps).

The SMC is an invitation to grow a public resource of knowledge and relationships among all who are interested in the use of social media in learning, and therefore, it is made public with the intention of growing a community of participants who will take over its provisioning, governance and future evolution.

You may also want to check Rheingold’s article & video interview Re-Imagining Media for Learning (Sept 29, 2011) where he interviews Tracy Fullerton, director of the Game Innnovation Lab at USC:

We’ve created a game where students are prompted to immediately begin working in teams together in creating all kinds of different media…the attitude of these students towards learning has changed so dramatically from what we’ve seen in the past. They are completely taking on the responsibility and the activation for their own learning onto their own shoulders”.



September 18, 2011

Participatory Learning with xBees

by hstrykdiy

I could probably write ten posts based upon my experiences at Maker Faire. I only went Saturday, but I quickly realized how there is just TOO MUCH to see in one day. For this post I will focus on Robert Faludi’s talk on “Fun with Xbees.” His lecture showed some of the amazing projects that were made possible using Xbees (a component which can wirelessly communicate with an Arduino board). One project that I found applicable to our class (and also relates to our visitor last week) was Indiana University’s “BeeSim”. BeeSim uses LilyPad Arduinos and Xbee radios as well as open-source software to teach children about bee behavior. This video is a great introduction:

One point made in the video that was interesting was that children settled down and started to discuss/analyze bee behavior once they started to play the game within the constraints of set rules. The bee glove is programmed so that the children have to let the bee “rest” between rounds of delivering pollen – this time is spent by the children talking with each other about what they just did – and perhaps how to do the tasks faster during the next round. This reminded me of Vgotsky’s ‘Play and its role in the Mental Development of the Child’. “Action in the imaginative sphere, in an imaginary situation, the creation of voluntary intentions and the formation of real-life plans and volitional motives – all appear in play and make it the highest level of preschool development.” After playing BeeSim, the children gain a very developed understanding of why and how bees produce honey, and gain the ability to describe the process with the proper terminology (stamen, pollen, proboscis, ect.)

Because the tools to create the BeeSim project are relatively inexpensive, and all the software is available for download (the instructions are posted on Instructables – schools/organizations only need access (in theory) to someone who knows a bit about programming, hardware components and electronics (all things that can be learned via an introductory book on electronics) to have a BeeSim game of their own.

September 14, 2011

Hole in The Wall

by stephaniecorleto

I found out about the  Hole-in-the-Wall project while exploring TED. Around 1999, Dr. Sugata Mitra (Chief Scientist at NIIT in New Delhi) wanted to explore unsupervised learning through computers. He carved a hole in the wall that separated the NIIT campus from the slum in Kalkaji, it it was a freely accessible computer.

The first Learning Station in Kalkaji

Mitra found that the children were able to learn basic computer skills when provided with suitable resources, entertaining content, and minimal human guidance.

In his TED talk, Mitra begins by saying (paraphrased), “the best schools and teachers don’t exist where students need them most.” But, through this project he has given  children in   underprivileged communities the opportunity to collectively learn, empower themselves, and explore new ideas. This is not meant to replace teachers, but to show that if children have interest education happens.

Since 1999 the project has become global and has taught children gone beyond basic technology use, to include language and science. To learn more about great the capacity is for this type of learning watch the TED talk!