Today is my last in-person day of a beautiful, intense, deep learning experience at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Instructional Technology and Media MA Program. In an attempt to reflect on the experience as a whole I catch myself thinking about the intersection of topics apparently so distant from each other, but undeniably connected, such as Critical Theory and Managing Educational Technologies.
Thinking about the projects that were most meaningful to me in these 10 months of imagining, creating, playing, iterating, reading, researching, testing and sharing, the ones that make me smile the most all involve creating something, and/or designing to spark creativity in educational settings.
- The Catalyst Kit for Circles of Invention, designed in the course Tools and Toys for Knowledge Construction, supports making, invention, reading and connections between diverse children in public libraries in Brazil.
- The Computational Fortune was a great personal challege (as Java is really hard for me) and a wonderful group experience together with Lilian Yi-Hsuan Lin. As a final project for Object Oriented Theory and Programing we created a computer program that generates 3D models based on users’ reflection of the year 2017. The program translates their meaningful words into the vertices, edges, and faces of the generative forms that symbolize their dreams, hopes, and new year resolutions. No words, just an image is generated and one image is never like another. It is a celebration of diversity and art for the sake of art.
- The CardBoard Spark, final project for Managing Educational Technology Resources, another great group experience with Rocio, Jieqiong Li, Valerie and Avery, is a low cost customizable cardboard Furniture modular kit for students, teachers and schools to spark mindset and pedagogical shifts by encouraging student and teacher ownership in the creation of their own learning space.
- ReMake, once again a beautiful team experience with a diversified group – Daniela, Nicola and Mat – for the course Instructional Design of Educational Technologies is a program for women over 50 in Brazil who feel disenfranchised in a society that sexist and ageist. The goal of the program is through digital literacy and maker-centered activities engage women in a journey of self-reflection, personal expression, sharing, and the remaking their own present and future narratives.
Last week, immersed for two days in a Critical Theory workshop with Prof. Brookfield, reading, thinking and discussing topics such as ideology, liberation, power and contemporary criticality, I was personally drawn to the discussion of the aesthetic dimension. For Herbert Marcuse “art subverts the dominant consciousness, the ordinary experience…the political potential of art lies only in its own aesthetic dimension” (in Brookfield 2010, 146) It made me think of the paths I have chosen as an educator, mother, citizen and learner pursuing the possibility for space and time for more creative learning in life and in schools enabling more subjective personal expression with the ultimate goal of cultivating a more just, diverse and inclusive society committed to the common good.
Thinking back to technology integration in schools and technology resource management, to actually enhance learning, promote the building of communities, support problem solving and creativity, issues such as citizenship, diversity, the common good, ethical decision making, flow of communication and power are at the forefront, echoing essential questions in critical theory. During the last book presentation in my Facilitating Adult Learning Course I came across a quote by Brookfield on the aesthetic dimension, that, to me, as I try to give closure to this whole TC experience, serves as a guide as I think of my work with design thinking and creative technologies. “The purpose of life is the experiential pursuit of beautiful consequences” (Brookfield, 2010, p.15)