Following from the workshop we facilitated at NordiCHI in Helsinki, we
plan a special journal issue. The Elsevier journal *Learning and
Instruction* has an open call for special issue proposals
We plan to submit a proposal with the projected focus of *designing and
constructing material artefacts as an educational strategy* (for details
see below). The proposal is to be submitted together with potential
contributions by the end of November 2015.
We invite your contribution, initially in the format of a 1000 word
abstract including 5 key references (the final length of an article is
8000 words). Please send your abstract with references by *November
21st* to both Emilie ([log in to unmask]) and Daniel ([log in to unmask]).
If our proposal for a special issue is not accepted by Learning and
Instruction, we intent to try other journals - suggestions are welcome.
Also, please give us feedback on the proposal so we can make it as
focused, relevant and exciting as possible.
Please feel free to forward this call to interested parties.
Emilie Mψllenbach and Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath
Special Issue Proposal for Learning and Instruction (Elsevier)
The focus of the proposed special journal issue is the investigation and
exploration of concepts for designing, constructing and building
material artefacts as an educational strategy demonstrated through
practical examples (Digital practices such as programming games or
designing a house in Second Life are welcome and covered by our
discussion, for two reasons: Digital media is in flux, in the content
from one medium is rapidly transfered or transformed to another; and
even practices which focus on intangible realms make them accessible and
provide an experience, today more than ever.). We aim to discuss the
potential of material construction and digital design for (organized)
learning. We see material construction as a process of engagement,
reflection and learning (Not limited to or primarily targeted at product
design, but open and applying to many disciplines with different
practices of building, prototyping, demonstrating and experimenting.).
We focus on the individual and collective gaining of skills, knowledge
and understanding, the adoption of a can-do attitude, the development of
a critical stance towards educational content, the forming of
communities, and on material making as a vehicle for conceptual
reasoning. We start from the following observations or propositions:
Creating an artefact is a reason to learn. When one builds something,
he/she needs to know (a lot) about it. The process of design and
construction changes the perspective of learning as being-taught into an
active process driven by interest. It gives direction and (often hard)
success criteria. It calls for responsibility for one's own education
and search for knowledge. Learners are challenged to manage their own
learning to empower themselves. Learning is most rewarding when people
learn what they are interested in, what is relevant for them and what
benefits them. 'Learning occurs best when there is a desire to attain
specific knowledge.' (Maeda 2006) It is hardly possible to keep people
from learning when they want to learn something.
The material (work) (implicitely) structures the learning process and
drives it forward and deeper. 'We are finding out what we are going to
say, what we are going to do, by saying and doing, and in the process we
are continually controlling the process itself.' (Mead 1934)
The artefact gives (immediate) feedback; a way to (implicitely and
explicitely) test one's understanding. In the design process, people
have to deal with problems, break downs, uncertainty and doubts. The
process resembles and can actually take the form of a competitive struggle.
If the design and making process is fun then nothing else matters;
i.e. everything (learning, understanding, skills) else will follow
without effort. People want to get better at what is fun and apply
themselves to this end. 'Our own period, which is transforming nature in
so many and different ways, takes pleasure in understanding things so
that we can interfere.' (Brecht 1964) Having an artefact built oneself
can be in itself perceived by learners as a large achievement. It
challenges and motivates and fuels learners' attitude of can-do.
Building and designing something is also a progressive journey; it
Artefacts act as development catalysts for iteration and revision
the design process is not over, and the job is not done. Artefacts can
be questioned, presented and demo'ed. The bodily, physical, material and
immediate presence of the artefact opens venues for engagement,
collaboration, integration and association.
From a phenomenological perspective we propose an overlap between
mechanic and other physical structures, properties and practices, with
conceptual reasoning. We see a parallelism and continuum between
practical and conceptual activity.
The special issue provides a venue for contributors to discuss and
demonstrate (potentially opposing) teaching approaches, frameworks and
concepts. We invite designers, researchers, engineers, artists, and
educators to share their views, opinions, experiences and practices. We
identify four specific areas for contributions to the special issue:
Constructing artefacts as an intermediate and often contradicting
position (between DIY and consumerism, virtual and real, product and
process, usefulness and uselessness, authentic and fantastic, success
and failure/breakdowns, etc.) in flux, in transformation
Using, creating and questioning through, with and for technology
Relationships between theories: Where does construction and design
sit conceptually? How is it embedded in and related to the existing
discourse? Overlaps and/or conflicts with constructivism, instructionism
and other approaches; design-based learning. Different ways of learning.
What type of learning is occurring in particular situations?
Relate and compare material construction with online learning and
instruction practices and theories. Explore the tension within the
didactic proliferation of digital literacy between dichotomy of
experiential learning and distributed instruction (e.g. MOOCs).
Different educational strategies for different target groups (e.g.
scaffolding), conceptions of the user, different cultures
Content/subject matter construction can be effectively used for
Various practices (building, constructing, assembling,
de-engineering, re- or mis-using, programming, hacking). Scope, level
and practical considerations, e.g. freedom, constraints, templates,
kits, making from scratch
Learning, designand construction as a way to take control over one's life
Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath ([log in to unmask])
Center for Computer Games Research
Tel. 7218 5302
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