Tag Archives: maker movement

Remixing Media as a Reflection on the Maker Movement


Remix by Bill Benzon licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

This past week I had a chance to start Adapting Innovative Technologies in Education, a new course for my Graduate Certificate in Ed Tech.

I spent the week learning more about remixing and reflecting on its intersections and implications for the maker movement. After watching Everything is a Remix, a series of four videos (soon to be updated!) about how prevalent remixing is in our culture today, I was surprised to discover how many roadblocks exist to sharing and ultimately, learning.

This is highly problematic because as Dewey reminds us, learning is social and to be successful, education must be relevant to students’ existing lives, a chance for them to do real work instead of just prepare for the future (1897). Yet, if sharing and remixing content is constantly restricted due to laws resulting from patent and copyright battles, students will have little to work with as they strive to become makers.

Dale Doherty (2011) argues that “all of us are makers” and in a world where every student has access to editing software to remix photos, videos, music, and other content extremely easily before sharing it publicly on the web (Lessig, 2008, p.) it seems like that is certainly true. Unfortunately, we keep trying to separate the real-world experiences of students who are constantly remixing and making in their home communities from our school communities. Schools often deny students the time and space to work on authentic problems for fear of failure, the need to cover standards, and limitations around the content that students can access freely and openly to invent new products and projects. 

I created a remix video (below) with all of this in mind. The maker movement is introduced, the problem of access to making and authentic problems in school is raised, and the potential outcomes of empowering students as makers and change agents, is revealed, all in one minute. I tried to capture very brief snippets of my thoughts and reflections above, using videos clips that are available for use under creative commons, the saving grace of today’s remixing culture. I used a mashup of different tools to create the video itself after struggling to get content in WeVideo and ultimately remixing the initial footage in the YouTube video editor before finally making some tweaks in iMovie. Although I enjoyed the chance to remix something, I miss Mozilla Popcorn and wish the video assignment was not limited to sixty seconds. My hope was to use each clip a layer that I could build a larger idea upon, similar to layering Breitz speaks to in African cultures (Lessig, 2008 ).

I wonder what would happen if all content and ideas, all software, books, and tools were seen as initial layers that could be improved with audience feedback and contributions? What if, “this was never thought of as copying or stealing or intellectual-property theft but accepted as the natural way in which culture evolves and develops and moves forward?” (Breitz, as cited in Lessig, 2008, p. 7).


Corway film institute (2013). Boston latin school youthCAN on real school makers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6F5jsPRBng 

Dewey, John (1897) ‘My pedagogic creed’, The School Journal, Volume LIV, Number 3 (January 16, 1897), pages 77-80. [Also available in the informal education archiveshttp://infed.org/mobi/john-dewey-my-pedagogical-creed/. Retrieved: 10/24/15].

Doherty, D. (2011). We are makers [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/dale_dougherty_we_are_makers#t-25734

Doherty, D. (2015). Maker movement goes global”, Dale Dougherty (founder and executive chairman, maker media) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlAYeIdtucQ

Lessig, L. (2008). Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. New York: Penguin Press.

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Building learning keynote – Making the case for making in school [Video file]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j85p17kB_Ww 

Let’s Let All Educators Learn by Experience

learning to paint

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to take an impromptu painting class as part of a professional development program I’m involved in at my school. The interesting part was that learning to paint wasn’t the ultimate goal. Instead, our focus was on the experience.

  • What does it feel like to be a novice and learner and, for many of us, in a foreign context?
  • How does learning by doing differ from sitting in a classroom and being told how to learn or what to do?
  • What does painting show us about the importance of each individual learner’s perspective?

These were just a few of the questions that began to emerge as the evening progressed. All us in the class worked to paint a still life after receiving nothing more than a brief 15 minute instructional tutorial.

I thought about other experiential learning experiences I’ve had, whether they’ve involved learning to program an Arduino or making jewelry, they have all been powerful. What makes these experiences so meaningful? Do my students experience the same benefits?

There seem to be some core components that help make experiential learning both memorable and a natural entry point into deep learning:

  • Opportunities to learn with/from peers –> community of learners
  • Appreciation for individuality and varying skills –> self-awareness
  • Being receptive to feedback and critique –> growth
  • Diving in with minimal training or prep –> learn as you go
  • Setting your own learning goals –> empowerment
  • Ownership of the work –> intrinsic motivation
  • Freedom to take risks –> creative innovation

How can we find ways to integrate these components into everyday classroom learning? I’ve found that two new educational movements or approaches facilitate this work very well: the Maker Movement and Design Thinking.

The first is sweeping the nation, as shown in part by Obama’s announcement this week to host a Maker Faire at the White House this year! Making as a mindset for learning involves encouraging students to create products and be completely immersed in inventing and tinkering as they follow their passions. There are more and less scaffolded approaches to making and many schools are struggling right now with how to assess and structure making but in my Maker Club, I’ve seen students thrive. Students that might feel hesitant talking in class are suddenly giving me detailed explanations about the projects they’ve built and taking on new roles as collaborators and designers. They’re excited to learn and enthusiastic about taking risks and developing new skills.

The second approach, Design Thinking, involves challenging students to respond to prompts like “How might we …” to solve real-world problems. By exploring, researching, empathizing, prototyping, seeking feedback, improving, and creating a final product, students engage in deep learning experiences. Whether they are trying to solve global water issues or prototype a new and better snowplow, students are experiencing many of the components I listed above while also learning valuable skills they can use for life.

I’m still learning daily about both the maker movement and design thinking and ways to integrate them meaningfully in schools. And although I’m also still reflecting on the answers to the questions that first came to mind during our painting class, I’m also wondering how we can infuse more of these experiences into our lives as educators?

My biggest takeaway from our painting class was:

It’s extremely important to engage in learning experiences where you are inspired and motivated to wonder, particularly in settings where you are asked to take risks, learn from the perspectives of your peers, and think critically about your pedagogy.

I think that in addition to seeking ways to integrate more experiential learning opportunities for students, we need to be asking how to create and offer more of them for teachers too. Take a look at our experience when we were asked to learn by painting (captured with Google Glass!):