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Supporting Fab Lab facilitators to develop pedagogical practices to improve learning in digital fabrication activities

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Planning and facilitating digital fabrication activities, where students engage in creating tangible artefacts with digital technology, requires knowledge on both technology and pedagogy. Currently, most of the studies see facilitators of digital fabrication activities as technology experts and there are only few studies regarding them as educators. There is not much discussion from the learning sciences point of view, considering what are the requirements to enhance learning in the activities. To fill these research gaps, this paper aims to provide theoretically grounded practical suggestions of how the facilitators may contribute to improve students’ learning in digital fabrication activities based on learning science propostions. The aim of this study was to explore, how Fab Lab facilitators and school teachers can design digital fabrication activities to support students’ learning. We explored the current practices in Fab Lab Oulu from the two perspectives: considering novice students’ learning and scaffolding ill-structured problem-solving. We suggest that the facilitators may improve students’ learning by taking into account their background and current learning processes, applying instructional scaffolding, and supporting teachers involvement to take active role in the activities.

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Supporting Fab Lab facilitators to develop pedagogical practices to improve learning in digital fabrication activities

  1. 1. Introduction Supporting Fab Lab facilitators to develop pedagogical practices to improve learning in digital fabrication activities Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019 Oulu 29.5.2019
  2. 2. Introduction Digital Fabrication in Education – Research GapsIntroduction • Lack of focus on Fab Lab/ makerspace instructors - focus mainly on students and teachers. • Fab Lab/ makerspace instructors are considered as technology experts, not as educators. • Few studies from the learning sciences and teachers’ point of view. Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  3. 3. Theoretical Framework Scaffolding • A process that “enables a child or novice to solve a problem, carry out a task or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts” [Wood, Bruner and Ross, 1976, p. 90]. Novice learners • Limited or non-existent experience • Human cognitive architecture Ill-structured problem-solving • Working on complex, ill-defined, open-ended, and real-world problems • Unspecified aspects, unclear goals, insufficient information, and rarely having single correct solution [Ge & Land, 2004]. Theoretical Ideas from Learning Sciences Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  4. 4. Research Questions What identifies ill-structured, open-ended digital fabrication activities? What kind of needs for scaffolding exist in ill-structured, open-ended digital fabrication activities? How can Fab Lab facilitators and school teachers design digital fabrication activities which support students’ learning? Aim: Explore, how Fab Lab facilitators and school teachers can design digital fabrication activities to support students’ learning. RQ 1 RQ 2 RQ 3 Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  5. 5. Methods ParticipantsResearch Context Researchers’ Role Students 7th-9th grade School teachers Fab Lab facilitators Internships in Fab Labs University courses Fab Academy Fab Lab Oulu 2-Years Ethnographic Case Study Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  6. 6. Results Methods Data Collection and Analysis Data analysis II Data collection Data analysis I Data analysis III Theory- and data-driven Internships University Courses Fab Academy Transcribing Coding Focus group Interview II Facilitators Focus group Interview I Teachers Observation Informal interviews Field studies 10-11/2016 02/2017 03/2017 05/2017 03/2017-02/2018 07/2018 Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  7. 7. What identifies ill-structured, open-ended digital fabrication activities? In the context of Fab Lab Oulu • problem-solving activities that incorporated hands-on experience • no predesigned or proposed topics • no premade structure or schedule RESULTS for RQ1 Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  8. 8. What kind of needs for scaffolding exist in ill-structured, open-ended digital fabrication activities? RESULTS for RQ2 Current facilitation of the activities remarked: Needs for defining learning goals and providing instructions Needs for instructional designing and structuring, and scaffolding the activities “I think one week is a bit too short for all the things our students need to learn, and I believe if we were given more time, our students would have been able to achieve more things.” - Fab Lab Facilitator Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  9. 9. How can Fab Lab facilitators and school teachers design digital fabrication activities which support students’ learning? RESULTS for RQ3 Impediments that affected to the effectiveness of the activities: Teachers were not familiar with Fab Labs and digital fabrication activities The facilitators did not know students background and existing knowledge Lack of collaboration between Fab Lab facilitators and teachers “These kids are bit too young, they did not have mathematical background and they didn’t remember what is pi.” - Fab Lab facilitator Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  10. 10. The Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru, FabLearn Europe 2019, Oulu 29.5.2019 Discussion
  11. 11. • Consider students’ background • Consider appropriate learning content [Applebee 1986, as cited J. Foley, 1994; Daniels, and Hauer 2007] • Reserve enough time for critical thinking, decision making and reflection Discussion The Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  12. 12. DiscussionDiscussion The Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning • Make goals and process clear and visible to students • Support creativity, critical thinking and reflective working of students’ through trials, errors and iterations • Consider adequate instructions of the processes (especially novice students) Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  13. 13. 3. How can Fab Lab facilitators and school teachers design digital fabrication activities which support students’ learning? Results IIIC ResultsDiscussion The Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning Teachers knowledge of students, such as students’ background and current learning processes, are beneficial to plan and implement the activities. [Kangas, Seitamaa-Hakkarainen & Hakkarainen, 2011] Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  14. 14. Results & DiscussionThe Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning • the facilities • technical help • learning goals • responsibility on facilitating the activities Discussion Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  15. 15. Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru, FabLearn Europe 2019, Oulu 29.5.2019 The Essential Elements of Designing Digital Fabrication Activities to Support Students’ Learning Discussion
  16. 16. The role of Fab Lab facilitators is less studied earlier Fab Lab facilitators may improve students’ learning • consider students’ background and current learning processes • apply instructional scaffolding • support teachers involvement to take active role in the activities Limitations of the study • Small sample size, cannot be generalized • However, long-term study and multiple data sources Summary To improve learning in digital fabrication Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  17. 17. Testing and evaluating new activity design Fab Lab team including both technological and pedagogical experts to design and implement learning activities for students and teachers in collaboration. Investigate, how does new activity design affect in applying digital fabrication activities in formal schools. Future Work Kati Pitkänen, Megumi Iwata & Jari Laru FabLearn Europe 2019, 29.5.2019
  18. 18. Follow the project in ResearchGateFuture Work DigiFabEdu – Digital Fabrication and Fab Labs in Formal Education https://www.researchgate.net/project/DigiFabEdu- Digital-Fabrication-and-Fab-Labs-in-Formal-Education Kati Pitkänen: kati.pitkanen@student.oulu.fi Megumi Iwata: megumi.iwata@student.oulu.fi Jari Laru: jari.laru@oulu.fi Thank you!

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