January 24, 2024

Promoting Online Making: Reflections on the 2023 Connected Learning Summit

Categories: Connected Learning, Digital Learning, Edtech, Educational Practice, Featured, Research

Image: Matthew Caughey, Executive Director of The Elizabeth Peabody House, carries out an Eddy lesson package as part of the center’s afterschool programs.

This past October, we had a valuable opportunity to engage with like-minded professionals who are passionate about enhancing education through technology, at the 2023 Connected Learning Summit. Our panel, “Empowering Teachers: Eddy’s Maker-Centric, Playful Approach to Tech-Infused Education,” enabled us to reflect on how we can better leverage technology to improve learning outcomes for students – helping students both learn with technology and learn about technology.

Though our fellow panelists all came from different backgrounds, one thing we agreed on is the need to place the student at the center of learning – to look at student outcomes more closely in evaluating the effectiveness of tech use to support them. We also agreed that teachers need to be well-supported in terms of using technology in the classroom, otherwise, the technology component is not going to yield positive learning outcomes.

Our session brought us deep into the challenges and potential of integrating technology to enhance student learning outcomes. It was an opportunity for us to share our journey with Eddy, a platform designed to promote online making in the STEAM classroom.

Understanding the Challenges: The ‘Why’ of Eddy

The philosophy of supporting teachers to use emerging technologies in the classroom is central to Eddy. This philosophy stems from our observation that teachers face the dual challenge of (i) keeping up with rapidly evolving technologies and (ii) effectively integrating them into their classrooms. Our conversations with employers revealed a demand for students who are not just technically competent but can creatively use technology for “online making” – to create, iterate, and tinker. However, many teachers find it challenging to impart these skills, as existing professional development (PD) often falls short. A survey administered by the International Society for Technology in Education has also shown that more than half of incoming teachers lack confidence in using learning technology and that the majority of early-career educators described their training to teach with technology as lacking. This gap between teachers’ capabilities and the demand for skills developed through online making is further complicated by the overwhelming array of tech tools available, a point emphasized by our fellow panelist Riddhi in her sharing.

Eddy attempts to address these challenges by providing robust support to educators, enabling them to navigate the complexities of technology adoption in a less stressful way, and incorporate a Maker-centric method of using emerging technologies effectively in their teaching.

Eddy’s Comprehensive Solution for Educators and Students

At the heart of Eddy lies a suite of over 50 lesson packages, each meticulously crafted to integrate maker-centric learning and emerging technologies into various classroom settings. These packages are aligned with academic standards (Common Core, NGSS and ISTE Standards) and grade levels. With slide decks and other instructional materials included, these are turnkey lesson packages that teachers can easily implement, further reducing potential friction and obstacles associated with adopting new teaching technologies. When teachers implement a lesson on Eddy, this experience motivates them to see how these technologies can be used in their other classes. This hands-on approach facilitates teachers in exploring and applying these technologies across different classes.

Image: Each lesson package on Eddy explains the lesson in detail, with corresponding academic standards and subject alignment. 

For the student, Eddy approaches learning through a constructivist lens. By moving beyond the traditional ‘recipe’ (step-by-step) teaching style, Eddy’s lesson packages encourage students to engage in learning through tinkering and iterating. An example is the “Discovering Language Superpowers with NLP” package, where students use PictoBlox for natural language processing, creating chatbots that understand human emotions. This approach not only makes learning interactive but also cultivates critical thinking and problem-solving skills, preparing students for the 21st-century workforce.

Video: Video tutorials unpack the central activity guide teachers and students through each lesson. This tutorial teaches students how to use Pictoblox to build a bot powered by NLP.

This dual focus on supporting teachers and engaging students is central to Eddy’s mission. By providing resources that are both educational and exploratory, Eddy empowers educators to ignite a passion for tech-infused learning, fostering classrooms where creativity and technology go hand in hand.

Image: Proud students showcasing the results of an Eddy lesson!

Looking Forward: The Future Trajectory of Eddy

As we continue to shape Eddy’s growth, our experiences engaging with researchers and educators at the Connected Learning Summit have been invaluable. The summit has allowed us to engage in a rich exchange of feedback with educators and experts across the world. Recognizing the importance of this dialogue, we also have dedicated a section on the Eddy platform for educators to share their experiences, share student artifacts and exchange ideas, fostering a community of inspiration and collaborative growth. This active community engagement is a cornerstone of our ongoing development, ensuring that Eddy continually evolves to meet and serve educators’ needs.

Conclusion: Bridging Technology and Pedagogy

Our experience at the Connected Learning Summit reaffirmed our commitment to bridging the gap between emerging technology and pedagogy, ensuring that tools like Eddy effectively support educators in their mission to provide a dynamic, engaging, and hands-on learning experience. As we continue on this journey, we are inspired by the collaborative spirit and innovative thinking that define the Connected Learning community.

We always welcome feedback, suggestions, and partnerships – please feel free to reach out to hello@eddy4teachers.com if you’d like to connect!

Check out https://eddy4teachers.com/ and share it with your friends and colleagues!


Post by: Terence Tan and Ruofan Li

Terence Tan is the co-founder of edm8ker, a STEM/STEAM educational consultancy providing innovative maker-focused educational content and programs to schools and tech MNCs. Eddy is edm8ker’s first online product. Prior to joining edm8ker, Terence was a high school History and English teacher in Singapore. He holds a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the National Institute of Education, Singapore.

 

 

 

 

Ruofan Li is a Business Development Executive at edm8ker. She is passionate about the potential of Maker Ed to transform the way children engage with educational content. Ruofan holds a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.