What we’ve been reading, week 47

Looking for the best in education, learning, making, and technology news? Look no further – here are all the stories you need to know about.


Maker spaces develop children’s creativity, critical thinking, design and digital skills

According to a new maker spaces in Primary Schools research, carried out by the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University,  maker spaces can be highly effective at developing children’s creativity, critical thinking, design thinking, and digital skills.

The research study examined how maker activities using 3D design and 3D printing technology could enhance learning and teaching outcomes.

One of the report’s key findings is that maker activities using 3D technology resulted in very high levels of student engagement, as well as increased levels of student confidence (particularly for less capable students). Students were highly engaged with the 3D technology, and the idea of solving genuine design challenges – it helped boost their confidence and resilience when dealing with setbacks, particularly for those less capable students. 

However, one of our favourite quotes from the report focuses on teacher transformation:

An unanticipated outcome of the study was the extensive teacher transformation that took place. Several teachers indicated that they had shifted to be more collaborative, flexible, and comfortable with technology. Many teachers entered learning partnerships with students, and as a result, students came to see their teachers as models of life-long learning. Some teachers related how these changes had transcended beyond their maker spaces modules – for instance, in the form of more inquiry-based, problem-based, and collaborative units of work.


The future of learning? Well, it’s personal 

If it’s plopping down some obsolete or irrelevant curriculum on a laptop and letting every kid go at their own pace, It’s hard to get excited about that. If it’s giving students more voice, helping them find their own talents in distinct ways, that’s better.

Personalised learning is a concept grounded in the psychology of motivation, learning science and growing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). And the hype around it is blowing up. But what does it really mean? This interesting article breaks down the wildly different interpretations of the term and tries to find out which vision of personalisation will prevail.


Seen on social



We Make The Future: Ep06: Video

Episode 6 of We Make the Future explores using video in the classroom, and how we can turn children’s love of screens into a creative force. 
Dominic Traynor used to be a primary school teacher. After pushing his class hard to exceed their targets for two and a half terms he thought he’d let them wind down with a fun creative project. What happened next was totally unexpected. Listen to the episode here.


Designing 3D printed stamps for metal pressing

This school project by Daphan Kaplan uses 3D printed forms for pressing thin metal sheets into shape. You wouldn’t typically think of 3D printed material as being rigid enough, but Kaplan shows us that for some materials even with only a 40% infill, 3D printed forms will suffice.


School libraries transform to prepare students for the future

Rather than being places for silence, these new libraries hum with activity, especially as many are becoming learning hubs or learning commons that encourage collaboration

While school libraries are sometimes threatened by cuts because of budgetary pressures, they are essential elements within schools to prepare students academically and for new technologies. School libraries have always been a place where students can access information. However, as the ways of accessing information change, school libraries have changed as well. School libraries are also becoming more collaborative spaces, and while books are still important, technology dominates the modern library landscape.


Last night’s episode of “School” proves it: it’s time to get rid of Ofsted

As we shared a few weeks ago, BBC Two premiered a programme about British education. In the third episode of ‘School’, they focus on why teachers are leaving the profession: funding? Ofsted and accountability systems? Or school leadership? For some people, the intense pressure on teachers to impact the progress of their students day in, day out, is at the root of the crisis.

In this particular episode, you see headteacher Mr Pope under intense pressure, operating in difficult circumstances. At the end of the programme, he resigns because of an Ofsted report, citing personal reasons. 

After the programme, social media was littered with people utterly frustrated at what they’d seen:

If you’re in the UK, you can watch this episode here.


Coding random letter games with Scratch

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a Stopwatch (countdown timer) and Random Letter Generator using Scratch. 


Education must make teaching citizenship skills a priority 

Is our current education system obsolete? We’ve explored this topic several times on our blog, and on our podcast, We Make The Future. This episode of Future Hindsight focuses on that, and why standardised tests and much of college-ready content aren’t well retained by students and don’t serve them to be ready for life. 


Going back to the Moon

Last week, NASA released the above video to announce the space agency’s plan to establish a permanent human presence on the moon and then venture beyond, to Mars. 


Digital making and mental health

Recovery can be a voyage of self-discovery and personal growth. Experiences of mental illness can provide opportunities for change, reflection, and discovery of new values, skills, and interests

A special school in Sheffield for students with complex mental health recently developed a ‘digital making’ scheme of work to deliver as part of the school timetable. The aim of the scheme was to help develop digital skills required in the modern workplace, build on wider transferable skills (problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, and so on), and allow young people to experience the benefits of finding enjoyment through a new activity. The new activity has had a surprisingly therapeutic effect on students who suffer from mental health.

Why digital making has this positive effect on the students? There is something in ‘that moment’ when somebody cracks/debugs a problem and the satisfaction it evokes. On a biological level, the rush of neurotransmitters stimulated by this type of experience surely must have a positive effect on any young person, particularly those experiencing poor mental health. Another observation is the obvious enjoyment they receive from ‘seeing things happen’, and these visual outcomes do allow students to link programming code to real changes in the physical world. Digital making is also a subject that lends itself to the development of ‘soft skills’ (such as, peer discussion, interaction, and collaboration) which are central to any successful Social, Emotional & Mental health curriculum offer.

Read the whole story in issue 6 of HelloWorld Magazine. 


The best new schools don’t look like schools at all

To some kids, school already feels like a prison; architecture shouldn’t reinforce that mind-set

How can we use architecture to nurture the student’s minds? This article by Fast Company shares examples of six schools that use the design to emphasise openness, encourage natural surveillance and foster a comfortable, versus ominous, atmosphere.

Photo by Konstantin Dyadyun on Unsplash

Want to read more? Check out last week’s ‘best of the web’ reading list.

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