News

Help families learn, creatively, together

By Laura Devaney
September 10th, 2014

family-siteTechnology pervades all aspects of our lives and young people are growing up playing, learning, and connecting with technology. However, parents, especially those with little to no background in technology, are often unsure what role they can play. These workshops leverage the learning dynamics that families already use in activities like literacy development and support families in using them in the context of computing, enabling parents and children to become more empowered learning partners.

Family Creative Learning, from the MIT Media Lab, is a workshop series that engages children and their parents to learn together — as designers and inventors — through the use of creative technologies. We designed the workshops to strengthen the social support and expertise of families with limited access to resources and experiences around computing.

A facilitator guide provides a basic framework to implement the five workshops of Family Creative Learning. It also includes our photo documentation and strategies to illustrate how we implemented these workshops across multiple sites in the Boston-area.

This guide is for educators, community center staff, and volunteers interested in engaging their young people and their families to become designers and inventors in their community.

As they create together, families learn how to support one another in their learning from asking questions, giving feedback, and persevering through challenges.

Children and their parents engage in design-based activities using creative technologies, like Scratch and MaKey MaKey to create their own personally meaningful projects.

Children and parents also connect with other families, by sharing meals from local restaurants, engaging in inter-family activities, and sharing their projects.

Families participate in a series of five 2-hour workshops held in the evenings. In every workshop, we begin with dinner, followed by a collaborative design activity, using Scratch and MaKey MaKey. With Scratch, families program their own interactive stories, games, and animations. With MaKey MaKey, families create physical interfaces to computers, using everyday objects that conduct electricity (such as fruits or Play-Doh). With Scratch and MaKey MaKey, families learn to not only use new technologies, but also create their own technologies. The workshop series culminates in a showcase night for families to share their projects to the whole community.

Ricarose Roque, a PhD student with the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, collaboratively designs the workshops with educators and coordinators in schools and community organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs. They have implemented workshop series in the Boston, MA and in Santa Fe, NM. The workshop designs have significant contributions from Franklin Onuoha, Luisa Beck, Xiaodi Chen, Saskia Leggett, Karina Lin, and Richard Liuzzi with guidance from Mitchel Resnick and Natalie Rusk.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Ascione Devaney is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura