Why Schools Should Encourage Students to Become Builders and Makers
There are many platforms for students to build and engage in transformational play that will enhance critical skills needed for the global 21st century economy. Students are building and making a variety of objects from 3d worlds such as Minecraft,, Quest Atlantis, Roblox, a variety of RPG game generators, to a new gaming system called Ouya that allows people to build their own games using the console. Students are using MIT App Inventor to create their own apps, ClassTools.net to create their own arcade style study guides, and 3d printers and devices like 3Doodler to create imagined objects in the real world. Many of these services that allow students to express themselves logically extend into learning environments. Our students, in their spare time are learning to use free stop motion equipment, movie creation software and editors to create and remix songs and music videos by their favorite artists to share on Twitter, and other social media outlets. Students of today want to create, re-mix, and infuse their identities into their activities. They hunger for meaningful tasks to enhance their learning in school. Why not provide these experiences to students in school to supplement curriculum, increase motivation, engagement, and critical thinking using low cost or free tools?
Students that build are students that learn from authentic learning experiences that stay with them throughout life. They gain valuable tools and strategies for working in teams, and using technology in an interactive and purposeful way that extends to a range of environments and situations. Students working in Minecraft EDU, Quest Atlantis, or any other similar builders world are engaged in deep meaningful learning that extends beyond a textbook, a classroom, and imparts critical experiences and knowledge need for success in a global 21st century economy. Students learn to work cooperatively; use failure as a basis for success by using problem solving and critical thinking skills applied to meaningful tasks.
I predict that very soon, big gaming companies and application design services will primarily license content from the public and re-sell it with their brand in cooperative ventures. One of the biggest exports in the United States currently is intellectual property in a variety of forms from music, to movies, to games and apps, and many more. The more students are able to learn the skills that will be required for success; the better off they will be in future economies. The critical skills and assets are learning from failure, and basing success upon failure, perseverance, teamwork, planning, and strategy. All of these skills are inherently built into builder maker projects. These projects are an excellent way to teach students the practicality of, and relationship between, work completed in school and what is expected in the real world.
Builders/Makers and Transformational Play
Transformational play engages students in a natural mode of learning based on curiosity, play, and problem solving. Students build projects in virtual worlds, often on teams, that matter to them in this way they are gaining experience working in teams and creating a product. This is already a key skill in most areas of employment. In addition they are learning in an organic and natural way that will remain with them. Transformational play actually changes the student’s concepts and ideas that they are learning about, transforming the thought process and resulting in true and meaningful knowledge about the concept.
Article on transformational play:
For more information on transformations play and Quest Atlantis visit these links:
The Student Congress is the builder’s world
Next Post: How to Start a Maker/Builder Group
My next post will focus on issues surrounding starting a builder/maker group at your school. I am working on starting a STEM club (Cyber STEM and real world STEM) at my school for the spring after testing. I will periodically share my obstacles and how I handle and overcome them.