I'm here today to share with you my current research that merges successful and proven methods that have been shown to enhance conceptual (STEM) learning among underrepresented minorities (URMs) by employing constructionist approaches to digital media, to help bridge the gap among these learners.
Historically, the digital divide described the inequality between groups, broadly construed, in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies. The digital divide also describes various social and cultural factors that shape access to technological resources. Researchers Nelson and Tu (2001) explore a broader definition of technology and technological practices, to include not only those technologies thought to create “revolutions” (computer hardware, software) but also cars, mobile phones, and other everyday technologies that are pervasive among URMs.
Computer-based, mobile, and virtual 3D games and simulations to support cultural heritage purposes, such as historical teaching and learning, or for enhancing museum visits is being more widely recognized in research. However, the use of digital media to support cultural heritage arts for conceptual science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning has been less well considered. I present a new approach that builds on successful and proven methods in three key areas:
Culturally situated learning, is a method that uses cultural heritage artifacts and vernacular art forms based on standards-based STEM concepts to both study and simulate original artifacts, and allow users to develop their own creations. Ancient Mimbres pottery designs, from the U.S. Southwest, show the use of geometric concepts: translation, rotation, reflection, and dilation. The GraffitiGrapherCSDT developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) lets students use this cultural and geometric knowledge to create their own simulated Mimbresdesigns and graffition computers. The GraffitiGrapherCSDT is one of several CSDTs.
Using qualitative approaches and production methods such as personal meaning mapping, art and culturally situateddesign this researchallows people to create, interact and play with digital media such as games and murals using cultural artifacts and STEM concepts. These methods were explored as part of ISEA2012.Informal (STEAM) learning interventions will take place in conjunction with Africa Atlanta 2014, a robust cross-cultural interdisciplinary collaboration of multiple stakeholders across the City of Atlanta.
The data collection process involves open-ended interviews and surveys, before, during and after deeply immersive learning intervention. Participants are given a theme, or prompt (an artifact or artwork), then based on personal meaning mapping they can create assets to design a project based on STEM concepts (ex. Adinkra ideograms with polar and Cartesian geometry). In a game, participants can define goals and rules for their game and use concepts of conditionals, operators, and the practices of testing and debugging.
Tom McKlin of The Findings Group, LLC offered this model as a guide for what to look for during the study –i.e. for investigating how the impact of merging the three key approaches can increase interest and motivation among URMs with low participation in STEM, in informal learning environments. This model includes making post-study recommendations for future research that may include a longitudinal study of project participants.
Culturally Situated Design forSTEAM LearningNettrice R. Gaskins, Digital Media Ph.D. CandidateSchool of Literature, Media & Communication, Georgia Tech
Research Agenda• The use of digital media to support cultural heritagearts for conceptual science, technology, engineeringand mathematics (STEM) learning has been lesswell considered. I present a new approach thatbuilds on successful and proven methods in threekey areas:
Culturally Situated LearningIdentity Self Construction: Indigenous cultures creativelyimprovise with cultural materials, to find personal meaning.
Art & Game-Based LearningAdaptation: Indigenous cultures have always been creatingnew forms, incorporating ideas and symbols into their art.
Digital MediaTransformation: Indigenous cultures transform technology indialogue with new places, creating new traditions & practices.
Theory of ChangeDeveloped with Tom McKlin of The Findings Group, LLC.