Making Maker Ed Work for Teachers
One of the keynote speakers at this year's SxSWedu was Ayah Bdeir, founder of Littlebits - electronic building blocks that snap together using magnets, making for 'foolproof inventing'. At the event they launched the STEAM Student set (see video above) - a kit designed for both self-directed and classroom learning.
What really makes the kit standout is the huge amount of supporting content and resources they've developed for the pack including; a 120+ page teacher guide, well-designed invention challenges, worksheets for young people to track their efforts and guidelines that link to NGSS Engineering Design standards and the Common Core.
This is exactly what I was talking about in my recent post - the need to make new creative technologies work for teachers rather than simply relying on superstar educators to figure it all out for themselves.
In an article she wrote for Edsurge at the end of last year, Ayah wrote:
"...it’s time for maker ed to move into the mainstream. Making should not be relegated to the times spent outside of class, e.g. lunch or after school. Nor should it only flourish in private schools, which don’t have to teach to standards. We need to work to show how making is a rigorous process that leads to valuable new technologies, products and experiences. Specifically, we need to tie maker projects to standards-based curriculum and show clearly the kinds of knowledge, skills and practices students learn as part of making."
What we're not talking about here is squeezing making into a curriculum where it doesn't fit. This is about articulating where it does fit and making that clear to educators. We need to understand that educators have a job to do and a large part of that is addressing the standards that have been set out. Once you get that, it's not a massive leap to start creating the kind of companion resources that teachers need to make their lives easier.
If we really want to move maker technologies (and all the other exciting tools we can think of) into the heart of education, the very least we can do is help write the teachers' edition.