Let’s Connect, Mess Around, and Create!

“Smart phones have made people dumb.” I’ve heard this from so many people since iPhones became popular and everyone around seemed to have one.  As I read “Connectivism” by George Siemen, a particular line stood out to me “Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.” Is that what smart phone users are doing? Off-loading some of the cognitive processes that we did on our own like remembering phone numbers and keeping track of dates?

This lead me to think about how technology makes many things obsolete in our lives.  I look at objects like dictionaries, calculators, encyclopedias, and even skills like cursive feels more and more irrelevant to every day life. With the ability to connect to the internet, these physical tools became unnecessary. With a skill like cursive, I was often in discussions with other teachers and literacy specialists on how we may need to focus more on teaching how to touch type rather than writing in cursive.  (But then, who knows? maybe we don’t even have to be able to type in the future, maybe we’ll just need another skill in order for us to communicate through written word – Anyone impressed with Dragon Dictation lately?)

Another point that Siemens mentions in his article is the idea of the collective knowledge within an organization, group, community or a network.  As I read “Living with New Media,” the portion about “Messing Around” captures the idea of people making connections to this knowledge base. Siemens states that “Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).” “Messing Around” and creating these connections is leading students to find out the “know-where.”

Photograph by Tara Cremin We can't say messing around isn't work anymore.  It's children building a knowledge base!
Photograph by Tara Cremin
We can’t say messing around isn’t work anymore. It’s children building a knowledge base.

So what? With all the information and technology at our finger tips I thought about what we need to value more in education.  The content knowledge or the process of attaining knowledge or doing something more than an application of the knowledge attained?
This is where the Revisied Bloom’s Taxonomy (with tech integration) that Andrew Churches talks about in his blog, Educational Origami comes into play.  Evaluating (in the old Bloom’s Taxonomy) isn’t enough, but with the aid of technological tools, students can now get involved in creation.

This all made sense to me with the increased presence of the Maker culture in education.  Students at my former school, The School at Columbia University, the students work with circuitry, 3D-printers, and various design softwares.  Last year in my 3rd Grade class, I had my students re-design any every day item on Tinkercad. What was amazing about that project was that I just let the students “mess around” on Tinkercad as long as they wanted.  I simply told them that they needed to have a finished product for me to print by the end of the year.  Here’s what the students came up with!

Creations ranging from tissue boxes to a new type of soda can!
Creations ranging from tissue boxes to a new type of soda can!

All in all, what I get from all this is, let’s connect, let’s mess around, and let’s create!

And really, I can’t recommend Tinkercad enough.  You should go “mess around” with it.

Tinkercad Logo

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One thought on “Let’s Connect, Mess Around, and Create!

  1. Awesome! Love the examples from your classroom, connected with the various readings for the week. Would love to hear how you’re bringing some of those maker elements from your previous school to your current one!

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