[Wk 2 Reflection] Thinking about Projects


Think about this week’s video, readings, activity or discussions.

What is a [idea, quote, question, word, …]
that you have found [intriguing, provoking, inspiring, …]
and how do you relate to it as a [learner, educator, designer, human being, …] ?

Choose your own reflection prompt, and share your thoughts replying to this post!

This post is also available in Italiano,日本語, Español, Português





I see that you make it your job to ask difficult questions! :smile:
So many things I find intriguing, inspiring, provoking… Don’t know where to start! I sometimes feel that it’s a curse more than a blessing because I can spend hours on something that has no relation whatsoever to anything I should be doing… But I’ll pick a recent one:
Two days ago I noticed a spiderweb with drops of water on it on the gate to where I work. It sparkled so nicely! That led to thoughts about nature, the strength of the spider web and that feeling of wonder when you notice something stunning. I told it to a co-worker that was with me and he said: “I’m glad the spider was not there”. I understand why he said that, I’m not a fan of spiders myself, but the thing is, even if the spider was there it would have been pretty. With the creator of the web himself! It’s just wonderful to be gently reminded that humans are just one part of this world. An important and influential one, and yet, just one.


Hi! While I was reading about the Mother’s Day card, I remembered the debate between Williams Morris and Christopher Dresser during the emergenge of industrial design discipline.

William Morris - who was a craftsmen at the age of 20s when the industrial revolution has its huge impact on England - rejected to even enter the first international fair that the products of industry were shown. The reason was that he believed machine will have great damage on human soul that machine made products won’t have a touch of a man which will be all the same and force people to become the same as each other for this reason.

Whereas, Christopher Dresser - who is known as the first industrial designer - was supporting the industrial revolution with the claim that there is no risk of becoming the same for the human since the machines can produce ‘a lot’ of products with great variance that everyone will be able to select whichever is nice to them.

I think we face both of the situations at the same time nowadays. What I found missing in this debate is well-educated artists, designers, engineers and whoever contributes to the creation of a product and an effective collaboration between team members. Because we now have a great diversity of products, it’s true, in the meantime we have really poor designed -functionally, asthetically,… - ones, too. The problem here is that people who don’t have or develop a sense of aesthetics, beauty, art or the skills of analyzing the needs of the society and be able to transform the gathered feedback from the users to the reality of production are designing. This is also the point that graphic designers face most of the times that every person have an idea on how to design an invitation card or an advertisement. Anyone who learns to use Coreldraw feel that now thay can design an effective and pretty good poster. But it’s not the case at all. Industrial designers started discussing the situation from a different point after the emergence of rapid prototyping tools and ‘open source design’ once again.

In sum, what I think about the issue is that, it is great to be able to create 2D and 3D products/projects by ourselves but a very important point is to learn at least about basic design principles and a bit about asthetics to create wonderful outputs.


Love this chapter. Thank you for sharing it.

Two things really resonated with me:

1. A “new” way of learning - and a bit about my grandfather
I agree with MR’s observations of the early days of the maker movement. As it emerged, I too observed lots of folks getting excited about the tech or about the potential economic impact. But the LCL team was more interested in how projects offered a “new” way of learning. And as an educator who had read a little Piaget and Friere in school, I found it interesting, too, that in this new way of learning, students engaged in creative exploration and learned how to solve problems better than any textbook or lecture could teach them.

I put the word “new” in quotes bc my grandfather, who was born in 1922, grew up on a farm, served in the airforce, studied a few semesters of engineering, then worked as an engineer for 40+ years. His years on the farm were hands-on learning experiences which extended, almost naturally, to engineering. In some respects, the maker movement is a response to the loss of the kind of learning that previous generations experienced… out of necessity.

2. From puzzles to projects - and a bit about my niece
I appreciate how the LCL team expands the approach to computer programming education from puzzles to projects, because projects include things like expression and storytelling. This summer I saw how important the story telling aspect of scratch was when I spent some time with my 8 year old niece. She had made a bunch of “movies” with scratch junior and I watched them with her after we came home from the beach one day. The characters in her movies were worried about things. Worried about making friends at school. Worried about moving into a new home. And these themes were themes that I realized she was worried about in her own life. And as a loving aunt I thought to myself, “If she has the wherewithal to express her feelings through writing and creating these movies, then I think she is going to be ok.”


‘We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.’
– Marshall McLuhan (The Medium is the Massage)

This quote sums up my feelings on how we limit our possibilities when exploring what we can do with new technologies/mediums. It inspires me to reconsider how I approach the unknown, and to challenge myself beyond reinventing wheels. As an educator I want to remain open to the ideas of fresh minds and I want those same fresh minds to be empowered to be different.

We first treated TV just like we did radio. We then treated websites like newspapers or books. We now treat Virtual Reality like normal internet/games. We treat Augmented Reality like reality. We fail ourselves when we don’t instead leave ourselves open to the NEWNESS the future allows for us.

Where this really gets me is educational content online. An online book should not just be a book (boring!). It should have interactive bits and pieces and tons of moving parts to help augment the learning/explaining.

Someone doing a great job in this space is http://runestoneinteractive.org/library.html. They don’t just have text with images detailing Computer Science ideas, they augment the experience with interactive learning widgets, and it is delightful!

Another resource doing a ridiculously wonderful job with this is 3blue1brown. This content creator does such a wonderful job of approaching Math from a visual angle with his custom, programmed animations.

I also want to shout out https://www.codingame.com/ . What a true encapsulation of fun in the the learning experience. Masterful execution of creating a play/project based platform for learning complex algorithms.

Honorable mentions include things like Merge Cube and Google Expeditions. Projects involved with creating low-cost accessible steps into future technologies. It is a fun time to be a nerd and an educator.

These creators are finding ways to use new mediums to advance the craft of teaching and it is admirable.


This is SO interesting, everyone!
You all talk about the connection between technology and humanity, and I agree, they should not be separated. Technology is a tool, it’s how we use it that matters. One should understand the ways the world works, not only how technology works, to be able to use it properly. And as @Xanthe_Matychak said, nothing replaces the very personal and real learning of doing things. :slight_smile:
And perhaps, as @David_Burgess says, the real creativity is not just to invent a new technology, but to use the new technology in the new ways it allows us to use it (and not in the ways the old one used to…)


I literally just posted this on a facebook thread before I came here. I was asked if I was a true blue radical unschooler and this is how I responded:
I am a true blue self directed learning (SDL) enthusiast. I would be inauthentic if I was to say I completely practiced radical unschooling with my kiddos. We have segments of time where the kiddos are expected to do things like chores and outings, but the bulk of our kiddos time is self-directed. I teach traditional classes that are heavily project based learning (PBL) because it allows me to have access to technology that would be beyond our family’s reach and helps boost our family’s income. We have been working with a colleague on a pilot for the Thrive Hive an Agile Learning Center that is like SDL with lots of other kiddos and I am soooo in love with the concept. I wish I could afford to facilitate at the Thrive Hive on a permanent basis. I would call myself a Constructionist. http://fablearn.stanford.edu/…/constructionism-learning… I am tickled at the common thread in today’s reading and video. Please excuse the faux pas of posting a Stanford link on an MIT forum :wink:


Os videos desta semana me inspiraram muito para melhorar o atendimento dos meus alunos. Mesmo trabalhando com projetos, sempre inseria primeiro um conceito ou um conteúdo para depois realizar o projeto criativo. Agora entendi que este conteúdo pode ser inserido no decorrer do projeto e muitas vezes ele pode ser descoberto pelos próprios estudantes sem que o professor o repasse, apenas orientando-os, o que altera a relação entre o professor e o aluno, nos tirando do papel de detentores do conhecimento para o de apoiadores e mediadores.


“Kitchen math points up the same moral; it shows that a large number of people have learned to do something mathematical without instruction-and even despite having been taught to do something else. Indeed, it may even suggest that there is no real crisis in education after all, since people with a will do find a way to learn what they need!”

I find Papert’s work quite endearing in a way that others have been modelling since he started his work.

I relate it to thinking about the ways in which we actually “learn” things. But even more importantly, why we learn things?

I need to get a copy of The Children’s Machine. I’ve said this to myself before.


It also makes me think of how many of our inventions have been inspired by the other beings with whom we share the planet… sonar, velcro come to mind first.


It’s tricky too with the ‘craft vs art’ snobbery mixing in, These is sometimes a sense of diversity, with 15 brands of the same product on shelves, but how much variance is there really between those 15 brands? Sometimes that brand presence squeezes out variety of products. The big chain stores have squeezed out Mom and Pop shops who really brought unique products into communities… and then there is etsy et all available from my studio to you through on-line shopping… I do think margins of return have a huge impact on what is available to consumer.

I definitely agree aesthetics and functionality are huge topics for consideration and growth. One size does not fit all… I think of my poor kindies, perched on Gr. 6 size chairs… we often work standing…
I ‘borrowed’ a great book from my dad, years ago (and to my deep frustration lost it inmy travels)

Being a shortie, the idea of fitting furnitue, comfortable furniture, makes so much sense!

I was working on the Scalescience curric with my 5/6… orientation to group work discussion behavior norms with the scenario of which 7 of 12 would you send on the rocket to save humanity with impending asteroid doom, and my heart sank to hear my most mentally adept student say, ‘we don’t need the artist. It’s nice and all, but there are more important aspects to consider.’ In the end though, that group did include the artist so people would have something to do to relax. I too have given priority to science studies over art… no room in my highschool schedule for everything I wanted to take. Now, art is my lifeline to mental health.

I’m really curious to hear people’s views anout your post. It’s a real thought provoker!


Thanks for sharing your ideas @MissMissShelly
What I feel missing in our man-made creations is the ‘emotions’. As being human, we all have feelings which connect us to each other and the other creatures. It is also our feelings of passion, success, courage, etc. that makes us search for the new. So it is not only about creating something that is technically developed. All the man made things have some emotional effects on the well-being of people, too. More importantly, they all have ethical issues.

Of course I’m not talking about the kids discovering something new or developing or building their toys, I mean we should not question the asthetic value of a kid’s construction.

But in a broader sense, it’s not only about being equipped with technical information required to create something new, it’s not only a technical issue. It has something to do with emotions, senses too. Even in learning a new issue, you will do your best if you have courage to do it. It’s about feelings, not only about being the most successful student in the class. It’s not about scores.


The idea of learning through experiencing, through doing an activity without the need of prior knowledge or instruction can be challenging but very inspiring. This project based approach that can be applied on everyday tasks with or without the use of technology it is something that I can relate to in my daughter’s school which it’s trying to change the way children learn by focusing on a course project which comes out of their own questions, interests, ideas. The teachers then try to link the project to the curriculum, maths, science, art, language etc.

This weeks readings and videos, helped me realised how everything can become a project, not only at work on the computer or at school but at home as a parent, every time we cook, play, build, draw together. When we allow our children to work in this way they relate to what they are doing, they use their imagination, develop critical thinking to improve their projects .

I really liked this :

For Seymour, computers were not a replacement for the teacher but a new medium of expression, a new tool for making things

I see the phrase above as a challenge to change the way we use technology for instructional tasks and start seeing it as a way to make something, not just doing, but for hands on activities and projects.


I’m loving all the discussions here!

@Pathy, I really resonate with your point (translation by google translate):

Even when working with projects, I always inserted a concept or a content first to carry out the creative project. Now I understand that this content can be inserted in the course of the project and often it can be discovered by the students themselves without the teacher passing it on, just guiding them, which changes the relationship between the teacher and the student, taking us from the role from holders of knowledge to that of supporters and mediators.

I think what you describe is the essence of learning through projects: the project is the context in which learning actually happens, and not only a context in which previous knowledge is applied or assessed.

I also appreciated how you highlight the implications for teachers, shifting from a transmissive role into a new one that involves facilitation and support.

I’m actually wondering, how do educators feel about that shift? How do you help your students learning by making?



I loved to play as a child, lost in my brain as I imagined worlds beyond my own and situations I hadn’t experienced. Playing allowed me to create - worlds, things, ideas.

I like to think that I am still a playful person (indeed I am often called silly) but do I play? In the middle of a life full of deadlines and appointments and marking - where is my play? I love to read, I love my job, but has play left my vocabulary as something I do?

I don’t think so. Not always. I remember first finding Scratch back in 2007 wanting to see what it does. I made program after program trying different computer science techniques and strategies. (I have a Computer Science background). I made the most hilarious concurrent program of three philosophers sharing a fork - and had Scratch solve the philosophers dilemma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dining_philosophers_problem). I remember showing this program to my 15 year old students that year and they didn’t quite understand a) why I found it funny and b) its importance. But it sparked three months of play and exploration as I taught my first class of grade 10 students about computer science using Scratch before moving on to a typed language.

And it’s amazing, that when I consider it, I still allow my grade 10s to play and it can be so hard to have them just explore. Even by 15 everything needs to be right the first time. I use words like drafts, prototypes, incremental designs. And still by 15 so many of them just want to know what to do to get from A to B. But I can usually, hopefully, find a way to pull them into exploring.

But I don’t allow that opportunity for my grade 12s (17 year olds) and this week’s topic makes me wonder why something I encourage and direct my grade 10s (15 year olds) is something that I don’t consider for my grade 12s. My grade 12 assignments are full of requirements and specifications. They’re open ended but not in the same way. How can I change that?

We have municipal elections coming up in a couple weeks and I know I wanted to have my grade 12s explore e-voting and more generally electoral systems of voting in groups. Now I am thinking about how to get that creative learning spiral into that exploration. How can I encourage them to think outside the box while still making my principal happy by ending up with something I can mark?

Lots of questions. I’m going to keep thinking of answers.


I love to be a mediator or guide through projects.
The most interesting piece, it only feels weird when you submit lesson plans!
The more time kids have to tinker and work on a project with a deadline approaching, the more they get into it. Also, a couple days into working they get into an amazing routine of coming in, getting to work, and asking questions. I am always happy to loop around and help with desk critiques, however it always feels weird submitting the plans to my supervisor with that as plan for a week. I need to accept it as great and get used to it.


What a lovely experience for you and your niece. I have used storytelling in my classrooms many times over the years and the kids have expressed so much through it.