Smart Spaces for Making: Networked Physical Tools to Support Process Documentation and Learning

Friday, September 1, 2017 to Saturday, August 31, 2019
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Making and Tinkering Programs, Informal/Formal Connections, K-12 Programs
Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Learning Researchers
Computing and information science | Education and learning science | Engineering | Physics
Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh

This exploratory learning research and design project will study how to use emerging technologies to help document practices in maker-based learning experiences. Despite its established potential for consolidating learning and sense-making, project documentation is often overlooked, not prioritized or seen as burdensome and therefore not integrated into the learning experiences. The project team seeks to understand and address with practice partners the barriers to documentation by systematically exploring how to physically embed and incorporate smart tools and documentation practices into learning environments, specifically creative hands-on learning spaces, like makerspaces. The goal is to understand how to scaffold learners to become more aware, reflective and attentive to their progress towards learning outcomes by embedding supportive tools physically in space as the actions unfold. Making and maker-based learning experiences offer tremendous opportunities to more fully engage diverse learners in STEM education and build a workforce prepared for innovation. Documentation of these learning experiences, both as an authentic practice that professionals engage in as well as an assessment practice for instruction, is often not supported. The project will create open source documentation for solutions and develop supporting case studies, web resources and guides to facilitate easy uptake and adoption of promising approaches.

This proposal will make significant research contributions in three ways: (1) develop and iteratively test a suite of embedded "smart" tools designed to scaffold, manage and trace process documentation practices; (2) study the integration of these tools in formal and informal activities and programs settings and characterize their influence on instruction and the assessment of learning outcomes; (3) establish a set of rubrics based on learner data streams to aid instruction and mark learner progress. Improving documentation practices and the assessment of learning outcomes will advance making as a core STEM educational activity. Through a better understanding of why and how to place networked documentation tools sensitive to space, time and context cues, the threshold for enactment and scaffolded usage can be lowered in a broader range of settings. Ultimately, this exploratory project will not only develop an integrated set of situated documentation tools, but also help us develop hypotheses for how documentation as a mediating process productively supports learning.

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. The Multimedia Immersion (MI) project is will develop, pilot, and evaluate a nine-week STEM-rich multimedia production course for high school students. MI will make important contributions to the field through its efforts to design and evaluate the promises and challenges of a nine-week multimedia curriculum in multiple urban high schools. The MI course will engage teams of students to develop a personally and socially relevant storyline that guides their use of accessible audio and video technologies to create a five-minute animated video. To develop student STEM experience and provide technical support, the project will provide guidance and learning experiences in engineering (e.g., criteria, constraints, optimization, tradeoffs), science (e.g. sound, light, energy, mechanics) and multimedia technologies (e.g., computer based audio production, video editing and visualizations through animatics (i.e., shooting a succession of storyboards with a soundtrack). animatics).

Because the curriculum situates engineering and science learning in the context of multimedia production, there are natural synergies with several existing high school courses including engineering design, audio/video media production, and multimedia technology. Although these courses are typically electives in high school, developing a 5-minute animated short on a topic of interest may encourage girls and students from underrepresented groups to select this course over other electives. MI will impact 10 teachers and approximately 250 high school students per year. The project will result in the following resources: nine-week curricular unit (multimedia, science, engineering); assessments to monitor student learning of science, engineering and technology (design logs); and research on changes in student knowledge, interest, and a nine-week curricular unit (multimedia, science, engineering). Project resources will be disseminated to teachers, researchers, and curriculum and professional development providers via conference presentations, publications, and online webinars.

The MI project builds on student familiarity and interest in music, video and technology to promote an: (1) understanding of engineering design and physics and an (2) an appreciation of the fundamental role of STEM in popular culture. Project evaluation will be conducted using student surveys and an examination of work products in conjunction with implementation challenges and successes to generate evidence for the feasibility and utility of a high school multimedia course that explicitly addresses science and engineering learning. Project evaluation will use student design logs as a window into student design processes and conceptual understanding. Student design logs are an essential feature of MI curriculum design. With an appropriate structure, these design logs can inform teaching, afford an opportunity for students to reflect on their own work, and provide evidence of student thinking and learning for assessment purposes. Using student design logs as a window into students? design process and conceptual understanding is an important contribution to the engineering education community which has few options for measuring student knowledge in ways that are consistent with the hands-on, iterative nature of the design process.

Funding Program: 
STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Part, Cyberlearn & Future Learn Tech
Award Number: 
Funding Amount: 
Funding Program: 
STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Part
Award Number: 
Funding Amount: 

Team Members

Marti LouwPrincipal Investigator
Daragh ByrneDaragh ByrneCo-Principal Investigator
Kevin CrowleyPrincipal Investigator

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