A creative take on technology

This unicorn was invented by Tru and built by Shawn Brown of www.kidsinventstuff.com

Technology is all around us and seems to have taken over control somehow. We swipe without thinking and spend hours a week on YouTube or Netflix. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but what if we could take back some of that control?

Instead of consuming tech, we can start making it ourselves: creating videos, games, photographs, apps, 3D prints, whatever you can imagine.

Taking a more creative (and active) approach to technology comes with plenty of advantages:

  • You pick up a wide variety of digital skills, that will sooner or later pay off in life, such as learning to write code, edit photographs, produce your own music, design a poster …
  • Thinking like a real problem solver is central to digital creativity, tackling all kinds of challenges in strange, new ways. Out of the box will become the new normal.
  • You’re not just learning to code or edit, but are also practicing a diverse set of other skills, depending on your project of the moment. This month you might be learning how to use a drum computer for making music, next time you need a digital drawing as a cover for your album.
  • But let’s not forget the most important advantage of all: being creative with tech is an absolute blast and comes with a very rewarding sense of excitement.

MIT's 4 Ps

One of my hobbies is quoting Mitch Resnick (Lifelong Kindergarten, MIT and the founder of Scratch) and his 4 Ps: Projects, Peers, Passion, Play. 

Projects: learning comes the most natural to all of us when we are completely engaged in a project. What do you want to figure out and build today? A mechanical grasshopper or maybe an app to recognize dogs? What about a music video?

Peers: collaboration is key for motivation. There are little things in life more rewarding than working together and achieving a goal together. Everyone knows the awesome feeling of showing off your work to a friend.

Passion: instead of forcing a predefined, prestructured curriculum on children, we can also follow and search for their passions. Because that’s where the real magic starts and creative ideas start popping up: when you love what you do (and it’s not like we are in school right now anyway).

Play: playing is learning. It can never be repeated enough. We all use our creative and cognitive ‘brain muscles’ the hardest when we are playing, experimenting, searching for new ideas and having fun while we’re at it.

Making for dummies

The Maker Movement is taking over the world (not literally or by force), even in Belgium. Almost anything you can imagine has been built, from a life size jelly bean pooping unicorn powered by Twitter, washers turned into giant bubble blowing machines, sweaters and vests that light up, to a robot that (kind of) can comb your hair. But don’t let these big projects scare you. Everyone started with the same, simple step: making a LED light glow (even Simone Giertz, the queen of silly robots).

Maker Education builds on the natural learning process when you are creating and building actual physical things (with a bit of digital thrown in the mix). You learn by drawing up a design, how to handle the making process, failing and learning how to do better in the next step. No harm is done if every once in a while there is a small explosion.

Need some inspiration?

Nobody expects you to reinvent the wheel. The internet is full of interesting projects, lesson plans, tutorials, videos … about digital making and maker ed.

Grab a snack and get ready for a wild ride. Diving into maker ed will inspire you for exciting new adventures.