CEP811: Maker Experiment #3

This week I am reflecting on my experiences in my CEP811 class and the Maker culture. The emphasis on Maker culture fascinates me because I teach in a discipline that is and has always been about making. Art and specifically graphic design involves creating or making whether for personal pursuits or for clients. My students create almost every week in the class. I have struggled a little with making my Graphic Design Survey class more interactive than a traditional art history type class. This course has provided some thoughts about how to better incorporate making into this course that really doesn’t lend itself well to interactive activities. I chose the Makey Makey kit because I saw several artistic experiments on the site and felt it could be a good tool for use in my classroom. I still see the potential and plan to spend my break exploring it further beyond my past experiments. Additionally, I did try a few new things this semester including having the students create animations using GoAnimate based on researching art movements discussed in class. Some were successful and others were not. In general, the students respond better and learn better when actively creating as opposed to just sitting and listening.

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Example of Maker Culture in my Classroom – This week in class my students created a design for a letter that they then carved into a linoleum block. They were then able to print the design using a letterpress.

Design is also based around on the creativity and problem solving Paul Gee believes is key to the next incarnation of education. (Gee) Students are given problems for assignments where they must work through a process to solve. We do not provide step-by-step instructions. Student must come up with their own original solutions and often these solutions involve problem solving such as answering a “How do I ….” question. My education was also oriented around this same methodology and I think it makes me better at problem solving and approaching new and unfamiliar situations. I can quickly make a plan to attack the problem and find the resources I need to solve it. It has also taught me not to view a solution not working as failure, but as a chance to grow. This skill serves me well both as a professional designer and as a teacher. I was able to my problem solving skills to work in class by finding a topic to unite my group of seemingly unrelated teaching disciplines. Art educators take great pleasure in this new focus on creativity because we have been advocating the importance of the arts and their role in developing these very skills for decades (should be STEAM instead of just STEM). The arts lead the way in developing creative problem solvers.

Grant Wiggins talks about how educators shy away from assessing creative thought. (Wiggins) I will admit it can be a challenge. It is difficult to explain to a student that an idea that them deem original may be an obvious solution to the problem or done before. This is why it is important for them to start reading about both past and present artists and designers just like CEP811 and the MAET program encourage us to further expose ourselves to past new ideas about teaching, education, and the use of technology. I try to show students examples of work similar to their solutions to provide support to my critique as well as point them towards artists and designers who push the boundaries. Creative thought can also be assessed on the outcome of it. Did it succeed? Was a problem fixed in a new or more efficient manner? How effective is the solution? There is a whole range of ways to evaluate creativity routed in objectivity. I use rubrics with my students like Wiggins advocates for in his blog. (Wiggins) They better assist students in understanding why they got a specific grade and on how they can improve than the typical “Good Job” or “Needs Work” comments I got in my undergraduate education (and they speed up grading). They provide specific, actionable feedback. Parts of the rubric focus on following directions, which is important in design, and parts are focused on the more subject part of creativity and execution. Great ideas also needs follow through. I tend to value the same thorough feedback on my own work. I want to be pushed to improve even when awarded a high grade.

While some of the material was review, the readings for the course provided confirmation of my own believes from a pedagogical standpoint and also often got me to think in new ways. Overall, the MAET courses continue to provide support for my beliefs and challenge me to push even further.

References
Gee, J. P. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games . YouTube. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Wiggens, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. Granted, and… ~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/