CEP811: Maker Kit Experiment #1

For this week, we were tasked with exploring our chosen maker kits further. Then, we were supposed to connect it with both pedagogy and make use of it in an actual lesson plan for our classroom. My chosen kit was the Makey Makey because of some of the art related experiments I saw on their website. The Makey Makey is basically a circuit board that can be connected to your computer and that you can connect it to other objects like bananas. It can be used like a controller or programmed to do more creative things like use bananas to make a piano. (Find out more at http://www.makeymakey.com/) The Makey Makey seems like the perfect tool to teach students about experimentation in art using programming and other technological devices.

Art and design classes are typically centered on learning theories like Experiential Learning and Constructivism. Experiential Learning, developed by C. Rogers, tends to be self-driven and self-motivated allowing users to make better connects to the material and its value (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html). Constructivism, developed by Jerome Bruner, also involves user centered learning motivated by the specific student’s interests and encourages explorations of a hypothesis actively gain knowledge (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html). Both methods encourage exploration, evaluation, and essentially involve problem solving in some form. Design has always focused around problem solving. A typical assignment or activity involves the student being presented with some base knowledge to frame a problem and then using a given problem statement, like create a logo or develop a social campaign, that they solve individually in some manner. Even when given very limited and specific criteria, solutions tend to vary widely as students employ their own perspectives and backgrounds in their problem solving. These methodologies also allow for far more student centered learning where each student guides their own understanding of the material.

I teach a Graphic Design Survey course that is similar to an art history course. I find they learn little from straight lecture and continue to find ways to put what were are talking about to hands on use. Most of my students do better with the hands on activities over rote memorization and lecture. I believe the Makey Makey can assist with this task when talking about experiments in art and design that cross over and make use technology and programming. I end the semester with a two week exploration of contemporary design and the boundaries being pushed as a result of technological advances. In some cases, it seems like an obvious connection like using html to create websites or computer software to do what used to be done by hand. However, in others, the lines of between art and technology get blurred. One person in particular I like to cite is John Maeda who started as more of a scientist and programmer and now is President of Rhode Island School of Design. His work shows the possibility that exists between blending art and programming (View Work). There are a number of people who have come after him, but he really pioneered this blending of discipline.

After discussing artists/makers like John Maeda, I would then present the students with Makey Makey kits and explain the basics of how to use them as well as guide them to some electronic resources to aid in their projects. After assigning them to groups, I would task them with the open ended problem of combining the Makey Makey with their own art in some meaningful manner. I would provide the below examples of others making use of the Makey Makey  in a similar fashion to give them a jumping off point for the possibilities. The students would then have to use problem solving within the constructs of Experiential Learning and Constructivism to explore the kit itself to figure out what they could create and would want to create. The experience would demonstrate the process of experimentation that the other artists and designers explored while also helping them to connect with the material on a meaningful and personal level thereby increasing the likelihood of mastery of the material (Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking).

Makey Makey Artistic Experiments for Reference

≡ A MACHINES SKETCHBOOK ≡ from Philippe Dubost on Vimeo.
This installation allows you to control drawings of machines that generate words and poetry under your eyes. Technology: vvvv.org, makey makey, projection, hand drawings
Done within the Moment Factory LABS (http://www.momentfactory.com/)

Makey! Makey! from Wolff Olins on Vimeo.
It’s a simple piece of electronics based on an Arduino Leonardo micro controller that lets people from all ages explore new ways to interact with computers. We thought it’d be neat to toy around with the idea of an interactive poster, and Jody has just created a lovely one for the do the green thing campaign. Borrowing a bit of tin foil from the kitchen and a projector, the idea here is that a print based poster gets layered with a video graphic. By touching the poster, you control which movie is playing.

makey makey – fonk and cats 1920×1080 from FONK on Vimeo.

Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-27). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

“Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner).” Constructivist Theory. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html>.

“Experiential Learning (Carl Rogers).” Experiential Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html>.

Maeda, John. “Selected Works by John Maeda.” MAEDASTUDIO. N.p., 16 July 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.maedastudio.com/index.php>.