Karen Brennan is a PhD student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, where she is a member of the Scratch Team, a group responsible for creating and developing a user-friendly educational programming language, and leader of the ScratchEd project. Her work focuses on Scratch and the Scratch educator community, studying how participation in the Scratch online community and how professional development for educators can support young people as creators of computational media. Brennan was also a Summer Fellow thi
s past August at the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute 2011. In the video below, she discusses how her connection with young Scratchers led her on a path to provide new learning environments for teachers that value them as learners and allow them to see the potential for their students. This, in turn, can open up new possibilities for broadening participation with such technologies. Below are a few highlights from the video, but this researcher’s compelling connection to the classroom and new educational technologies makes for a vibrant interview in the full video (below).
Kids are surrounded by interactive digital media, but a lot of their engagement is framed around use…consumption. They have fewer opportunities to engage as producers, as creators and as designers. We wanted to flip that.
The biggest problems in the world are not going to be solved by saying, this is the problem and the answer is in the back of the book. You’re going to have to be creative and think of lots of different ways to solve the problem. If you have no opportunities to practice that design approach to the world — it’s a habit of mind and a perspective — then it’s unlikely that you’re going to draw on that as a core practice later in life.
I was really fascinated with the relationship that teachers and schools had with/to/through technology. So I said, what would it look like to make greater connections to schools and Scratch? That might be a way of broadening participation and a way of reaching beyond the kids who are probably going to have good technology experiences.
Every teacher I have met has this core commitment to supporting the learning of young people. There’s bureaucratic things that interfere and impinge on them achieving those dreams. Providing spaces of learning for teachers and treating them like professionals is a key thing we need to strive for.
Banner image credit: sayamindu, Scratch Day 2011 @ MIT.
Video credit: Marc Bacarro