September 13, 2011

Mitch Resnick: The Role of Making, Tinkering, Remixing in Next-Generation Learning

Category: Educational Practice
lifelong kindergarten sign hanging from ceiling quote by Michel Resnick

Mitch Resnick is on the conference committee for the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference, “Beyond Educational Technology: Learning Innovations in a Connected World.” As Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, he develops new technologies and activities to engage people (especially children) in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed ideas and technologies underlying the LEGO Mindstorms and WeDo robotics kits, used by millions of young people around the world. His group also developed the Scratch programming language and online community, enabling young people to create and share interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations – and, in the process, learn to think creatively, learn systematically, and work collaboratively.
dml2012.350Resnick co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, an international network of 100 after-school learning centers in 20 countries, where young people from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. In a video interview, Resnick talked about the role of creating and producing for next-generation learners and teachers. Here are just a few highlights, but the full interview (below) is rich with Resnick’s unique perspective on youth and learning:

One thing we’ve seen is that the best learning experiences come when people are actively engaged in designing things, creating things, and inventing things – expressing themselves.

It’s not just a matter of giving people opportunities to interact with technologies or using technologies, but if we want people to really be fluent with new technologies and learn through their activities, it requires people to get involved as makers – to create things.

A lot of the best experiences come when you are making use of the materials in the world around you, tinkering with the things around you, and coming up with a prototype, getting feedback, and iteratively changing it, and making new ideas, over and over, and adapting to the current situation and the new situations that arise.

In our after school programs, we see many kids who have been unsuccessful in traditional educational settings become incredibly successful when they are given the opportunity to make, tinker, and remix.

I think there are lessons for schools from the ways that kids learn outside of schools, and we want to be able to support that type of learning both inside and outside of schools.

Over time, I do think we need to rethink educational institutions as a place that embraces playful experimentation.

Banner image credit: DizDau