By now, you may have noticed that the website is still very much in the seedling stage. For those of you who are following the site through its construction, you may have also noticed that the theme has been updated and some of the architecture has been shifted around.
While it may not be customary for most organizations to launch new content without all of the nuts and bolts figured out, this approach is perfectly acceptable in an open learning environment or an experimental design lab.
Bull-monkeys! You say?
Well according to the article by Luba Vangelova’s Mindshift article, The Value of Connecting the Dots to Create “Real Learning,” the learner-driven creation model of process-oriented learning, which allows people to make positive, synaptic connections in their brains, also makes it easier for learners to achieve their goals.
Vangelova quotes former schoolteacher Peter Bergson, who states that the ‘connect the dots model,’ is the essence of what he calls “real learning,” because it leads to competence and possible mastery — in contrast to the typical “memorizing and regurgitating” information strategy that limits learning to awareness but does not provide application or practical value.
Open connection theory is based on the premise that when you figure things out for yourself, you learn that you CAN, in FACT, figure things out, which in turn feels more affirming and energizing. This emotional connection or resonance with our belief in our ability to learn far outweighs any bit of sensory stimuli or “information” you might absorb about the content itself.
The inherent value in free and guided play makes it easier to take pleasure in learning, which in turn makes collaboration more useful than competition. Play and project based education equips learners with the responsibility and right to pursue their own interests in an atmosphere free of the kind of anxiety that arises from our current production model [based upon control and competition].
In another Mindshift article by Katrina Schwartz, ‘Can the Maker Movement Infiltrate Mainstream Classrooms?’
“Most of the people that I know who got into science and technology benefited from a set of informal experiences before they had much formal training,” said Dale Dougherty, editor of Make Magazine and founder of Maker Faire on KQED’s Forum program. “And I mean, like building rockets in the backyard, tinkering, playing with things. And that created the interest and motivation to pursue science.”
That spirit of play and discovery of knowledge is missing from much of formal education, Dougherty said. Students not only have no experience with making or the tools needed to build things, they’re often at a tactile deficit. “Schools haven’t changed, but the students have,” Dougherty said. “They don’t come with these experiences.”
Dougherty often watches kids as they interact with hands-on experiments or materials at Maker Faire events. “It’s almost aggressively manipulating and touching things because they’re not used to it,” he said, which is unfortunate because that kind of work is in high demand in doing engineering or mechanical jobs.
“Even at the university level we’re choosing talent based on math scores, not on capabilities and demonstrated abilities,” Dougherty said. He thinks engineering programs could learn something from art schools when it comes to the application process. No art school accepts a student without examining a portfolio of work that demonstrates the student can do the work required required of them and has the potential to grow. Dougherty helped lobby MIT to begin accepting “maker portfolios” along with other application materials to ensure the things kids make are considered alongside test scores, essays and recommendations.
STUDENTS WILL DRIVE THE MOVEMENT
Dougherty is hopeful that events like the White House Maker Faire will help catalyze a movement that accepts maker-style self-directed learning in schools
We hope to drive collaborative, self-directed learning here. But in order to do so, we expect we’ll get the best results by methodically tinkering around a little bit.
One of the advantages of hopping off the starting block before we’ve figured everything out is that with each action we get a snapshot of which elements make (or can be improved to make) our work compelling. We then get to ask the kinds of important questions that allow us to develop a conceptual framework that allows to continuously improve the experience for our users.
In order for the information from our site to be useful, what kinds of feedback can we measure that will enable us to produce better content? How can we improve our process and our narrative so that we can design information that’s meaningful and compelling enough to share?
Because human beings best retain information that they can:
- emotionally resonate with
- visually process
- interact with
learning by doing is the best way to develop a framework that provides the best user-experience.
The design lab framework, allows us to compare our understanding of the brain’s natural processes against the systemic models that affect it, so that we can experiment with ways to improve these models in ways that work in symbiosis with what’s healthy for the brain.
Think of this site as a digital sketchbook in which we use neuroscience as the design medium to re-imagine a healthier world. With that, we shall leave you with this wonderful tidbit of meaningful motivation.