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Our Learning Focus
Global events, shaped or influenced by powerful social and technological systems are raising questions about our most urgent priorities in Education. As teachers, we see uncertain, dynamic futures for our students and we wonder how to prepare them. What skills do they most need? How can we equip them to make sense of complex issues, and even feel empowered to change systems that do not serve them or their communities?
Through an exciting new collaboration, the 2020 Canadian Institute for Digital Literacies Learning is partnering with the Canada Science and Technology Museum to offer a unique three-day learning opportunity for K-12 teachers focused on the pedagogical possibilities of deconstruction, design and interdisciplinary sensemaking. Informed by new research on literacies learning through physical and digital Making in classrooms, we will leverage our nation’s treasured museum collections to explore the social, technical and scientific meanings in physical things and in digital systems. The goal of the week is to explore the important connections between the designing and the making of objects, systems, and understandings.
Together, participants will explore and then design innovative learning activities that will:
Teach students to know themselves as agents of change
Equip students with the critical skills, strategies, mindsets and dispositions needed to make meanings and solve complex problems
Empower students to re-design objects and systems for the betterment of Canada and the world
Each element of this professional development workshop is informed by research with teachers who participated in the 2017 and 2018 Maker Streams of the Institute at the University of Ottawa. Through our research, we have learned that dialogue and collaboration with peers is essential as teachers grapple with the complexities of new Maker-inspired teaching methods (Turner, 2019). We also know that teachers need time to think, to plan activities, to play with new digital technologies openly and with guided support, and that they appreciate opportunities to engage with research that can inform their practice well beyond the workshop itself (Cotnam-Kappel, Hagerman & Duplàa, under review). We also know that teachers love to make new things, and to imagine innovative methods that will support their students’ learning.
#LNDLCA2020 is grounded in this model, developed through analyses of interviews, photos, social media posts and daily reflections provided by past participants. Each component of our 2020 Institute aligns with key contextual and interactive opportunities that enrich teacher learning.
Each day will begin with an opening provocation from leading thinkers in the fields of education, digital literacies, and Making who are working, themselves, to develop new teaching methods that empower learners with a deep sense of agency. These 20-minute talks will be designed to provoke new insights, inspire interesting discussion throughout the day, and to challenge participants to lean into the complexities of pedagogical design work that brings together digital and physical making with critical perspectives and disciplinary practices for making sense.
The Canada Museum of Science and Technology is home to a national treasure trove of artefacts that, when analyzed using curatorial methods, reveal so very much about the socio-cultural context of their design and creation, about the scientific and technical methods used to create them, and about the ways these artefacts would have shaped human behaviour and activity. We’ll therefore begin our learning through a series of artefact studies that will help us to deconstruct our understanding of physical artefacts as a way to understand how they were/are situated in the social, cultural, scientific and technical fabric of our nation. This will lay the foundation for using the same methods to deconstruct digital systems and to then design learning activities that also encourage K-12 students to think critically about the design of the objects and systems around them.
Open and Guided Tech Play Time
Participants will have the chance to learn to use many different digital and physical tools to make things. These will include digital fabrication technologies such as the Glowforge laser cutter, the Epilog Laser Cutter, a 3D printer, 3D Doodle pens, LEGO Motors and bricks to build machines that go, plus the chance to learn basic block coding with the Micro:Bit microcontroller. Opportunities to play with, cut out and build with simple, inexpensive materials such as cardboard will also be part of this play time. Museum staff, graduate students, and staff from the UOttawa MakerMobile will be on hand to support participants during this block so that teachers can “skill up” and begin to imagine the pedagogical and design affordances of a range of tools.
Rapid Idea Generation Activities
On Day 2, we will apply the critical thinking toolkit developed through the artefact study on Day 1 to a new digital system — artificial intelligence. Through a series of rapid conversations, participants will imagine learning activities that could help their students to deconstruct and even re-design the museum’s artificial intelligence, Ophelia, who is a digital-physical representation of intelligence created by the company, Reimagine.AI. By the end of this session, participants will have considered the social, cultural, scientific and technological systems that have shaped Ophelia’s design and, the broader social, cultural and ethical implications of artificial intelligence systems. Together, we will construct a set of idea prompts and thinking routines that any of us might leverage in our classrooms to help K-12 students make sense of this, and other, technological systems.
Following from our artefact study and rapid idea generation activities, Design Cycles are blocks of time for participants to turn their ideas into concrete plans. Participants will design, prototype and make a new lesson or unit plan that aligns with their curriculum/a, and that integrates the thinking routines that, together, we develop. Participants will be free to use any of the technologies available to them at the Museum to create models or examples of objects that could be a part of their teaching/student learning plan. Knowledgeable staff from the Museum’s Exploratek makerspace will support any technical needs while graduate students and faculty from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education will support brainstorming and pedagogical design. All the while, participants will be encouraged to dialogue, collaborate and to reflect with their peers following a model of design thinking that begins with deep consideration of students’ needs, prototyping, and then testing out their ideas with peers who will provide grounded, constructive feedback to inspire iteration and improvement. This is where the exciting and transformational work will happen. It is also when educators will have precious blocks of time to truly engage deeply in the design of new learning for their students.
Celebration of Learning
In the afternoon of our final day, we’ll share our learning with one another and celebrate the work we have accomplished. Participants will showcase their ideas in a Learning Fair, where, at first, half of the participants will circulate and talk to their peers about their projects and then, roles will switch so that everyone has the chance to both present and to learn from their colleagues.