The City as Learning Lab: Spreading Technological Fluency Through Creative Robotics
The City as Learning Lab (CaLL) is a comprehensive research and development initiative designed to create new measures of audience impact in technology experiences; identify features of university-community collaboration that facilitate sustainable community programs; and produce a set of tools and resources that allow other cities to tailor creative robotics programs to unique audiences. Project partners include the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), the Community Robotics Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) lab at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, and the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as local museums, community organizations, and afterschool clubs. CaLL builds on the work of three existing youth technology programs in Pittsburgh targeting audiences ages 9-15: the Robot Diaries, Neighborhood Nets, and Robot 250. Research questions relate to creative processes in informal learning settings, use of robotics to engage diverse audiences, and changes in technological fluency after students leave the informal learning setting and apply their new knowledge and skills at home or in other learning contexts. The research incorporates data from up to 1000 program participants. Findings will establish evidence for how technological fluency can be measured, supported, and developed through informal technology learning experiences. Project deliverables include a CaLL curriculum, toolkit, new measures of audience impact, and identification of factors that support university/community collaborations. Broader impacts in informal technology education will be achieved by developing flexible toolkits that allow other communities to adapt and adopt CaLL technologies, curricula, and activities.