New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools
Chapter 3. Digital Materialities
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The previous chapter compared and contrasted two learning traditions that inform maker education: One described individuals making and sharing artifacts via reflective conversation (constructionist artistic development); the other drew learning as a communal process that situates, distributes, and connects knowledge through interest-driven affinity spaces (socially centered learning). As noted, a robust description of materiality is missing from that comparison. For me, this absence indicates, as education researcher Estrid Sørensen (2009) suggests, a “blindness toward the question of how educational practice is affected by materials” (p. 2). That is, though maker education emphasizes tools and materials such as laser cutters, cardboard, and programming languages like Scratch, among many others, the way these things contribute to learning is rarely analyzed or evaluated. For instance, when Martin (2015) distinguishes between additive and subtractive assembly tools, or when Halverson and Sheridan (2014) describe maker culture in three different makerspaces, questions of how and why are not asked: How might learning change if students explore cardboard instead of Plexiglas, or Python instead of Scratch, or the laser cutter instead of scissors and tape? These kinds of questions aren’t available in the maker education conversation. In this, I’m in agreement with Sørensen (2009): “We should place a stronger emphasis on ← 53 | 54 → materiality in educational theory in general” (p. 8). In this chapter I’m gathering together ideas about tools and materials, and how they matter to learning. My goal is to arrive at...
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