[Wk 3 - Reflection] Designing for Wide Walls


Good question. Years ago, when I first started running hacker camps for kids, our goal was very narrow. The kids were meant to learn the names of the different electronics, their uses and how to program them. We saw that this wasn’t working and decided to give them problems and possible tools they could use to solve them. But even then, the walls were still narrow.

I remember this boy who was really interested in photography and filmmaking who decided to solve one of the problems by making a documentary. Within a day, he had formed his own team of storytellers. At the end of the week, he had a pretty great video and although he didn’t learn much about microcontrollers or programming, he came up with a solution from his own realm of interests. It was pretty good and nothing any of us trainers had thought about.

I think the biggest strategy for me in widening the walls is keeping an open mind when it comes to kids’ suggestions and helping them navigate through their own thought processes without too much bias.

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Wide wall is probably an ideal way to encourage creative work, particularly in the field of digital media, design, and art.

But educators still needs to look into their own disciplines, content and learning objectives. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to create “wild walls”. For example, teaching students to memorize words.

Wide wall can be effective when your learning is project based with regular check in or consultation.

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My idea of wide walls is to be able to embrace paths we even did not know they exist. It is complete astonishment in front of the creativity of people. In my daily practice I give my students topics, ideas and challenges and let them doing it. I am interested in seeing their interpretation of the object ormeno the concept I gave to them

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@Pathy I agree with you in that widening walls is making learning significant to learners: making sure that learning activities can accommodate a diversity of interests, abilities, and passions and being able to support them. Sometimes, when teaching within a school system, there is a tendency to focus on technical skills by having “tight walls” and making sure everyone is able to complete the same activity, acquire the same skills and move on. Changing from this instructionist way of looking at learning and schools is not easy and is a process. For example, working with 9 graders I think the best way to start is not with concepts but with an exploration of interests, passions, and then based on that decide where to go, of course we have big ideas that we have to learn about, and practices that we have to engage with but these are flexible and adapt depending on the learners interests. It sounds pretty straight forward but convincing teachers to embrace this approach is difficult, they have to unlearn the way they have been teaching, and experience by themselves that this way of learning works as well or even better than what they have been doing in the classroom. I like to think about widening walls from a Paulo Freire perspective, his pedagogy starts by getting to know learners, their interests, their problems, their desires, and then building learning activities based on these.

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What do the wide walls look like in your practice? What are some of the design choices or facilitation strategies that you already use, or you plan to use to widen the walls?

In my work as a game developer, wide walls come in to play for both (1) gameplay styles and (2) tools for creation–both our own, and those we provide to players. The level editor we provide our players is where it feels like applying the lens of wide walls will be immediately powerful.

Some of our players enjoy creating combat-heavy levels–trying to make it as difficult as possible. Others enjoy creating levels with a storyline. Others, still, use our concepts of “trigger zones” and “activations” to create things that have interesting behaviors–calculators, automatic enemy spawners, contraptions that shoot you around from place to place. Others create puzzles, where stepping on a certain stone will drop you in to lava, but if you look carefully, there is a map of safe zones embedded in the ceiling.

Some players even went as far as creating a system for showing cutaway dialogue scenes in their levels. We don’t even support text, yet! So they drew individual characters using colorful cubes, used a virtual camera and display surface to show a face, and made it so they could create levels with a storyline in them.

That’s somewhere I see the concept of wide walls in action–and we even have examples of different play (and level-creation) styles that we could support or expand support for.


In my robotics electives or after-school program, I always make an effort to understand students’ prior experience with Lego and programing and robotics. Then I generally offer them a choice of building their own robot or following a set of instructions for a basic functional build. Then students work on open-ended projects or challenges. I might ask them to make something useful. Or to automate something. Or to make the robot draw something. Or to make the robot perform some demonstration of a concept they are learning in another class. For students who are quite advanced, I provide them with more specific programming constraints. Students often challenge themselves to incorporate sensors, gears, or other more complex features in their robots. I also coach FLL which provides fantastic, limitless challenges for students.


I like the term unlearning.
I remember first time I came to graduate school myself - being adult and going through traditional education system during my undergraduate studies I had a bunch of learning restrictions under my belt - so when I met my graduate studies advisor for the first time and asked her what was I supposed to do and she replied: “Do whatever you want” my initial reaction was “What do you mean whatever I want, I thought you’re going to tell me what to do”. She replied again that it’s up to me to work on things I’m passionate about and build my own degree - that’s when my unlearning process started :slight_smile: Getting rid of old practices and habits and learning like a child. I think I will always remember that conversation because it gets me thinking every time. I first thought that walls for me were too wide and I might get lost but it actually got me on track on what I was passionate truly about (of course with getting lost again and again but I think getting lost is really necessary).


Em relação as paredes largas, idealizamos nossos projetos verificando o tamanho da dimensão que utilzaremos.