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Digital Fabrication and Maker Movement in Education: Making Computer-supported Artefacts from Scratch

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - eCraft2Learn (Digital Fabrication and Maker Movement in Education: Making Computer-supported Artefacts from Scratch)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2018-12-31

Problem. In spite of the growing number of scientific evidence referencing to the importance of personalised learning, no relevant pedagogical model had yet been developed for allowing personalised learning and teaching within STEAM education. Furthermore, a gap between the skills learned in schools and the skills needed in the ICT sector is observed, which hinders economic growth. Digital technology assets can be used to help create an education and innovation ecosystem to overcome these problems. Hence, eCraft2Learn aimed at reinforcing personalised learning and teaching in STEAM education, assisting the development of 21st-century skills that promote inclusion and employability for youth in the EU.
Importance. Through the integration of available technologies and the deployment of suitable craft- and project-based pedagogies, we envisioned the solid emergence of the eCraft2Learn learning ecosystem suitable to foster learners’ 21st-century skills and to shift the role of the teacher to that of a coach. The eCraft2Learn project establishes digital fabrication and making as 21st-century learning activities in formal and informal educational contexts; and encourages a paradigm shift in technology education from a black box and silo products to a white box so that learners become designers and makers of transparent problem-solving artefacts.
Objectives. The eCraft2Learn project aimed at researching, designing, piloting and validating a learning ecosystem for 21st-century STEAM education to foster deeper learning. With this goal in sight, the project targeted the expansion of a holistic knowledge base from the development of innovation management techniques needed to support craft- and project-based learning through the deployment of suitable pedagogy supported by making and digital fabrication tools. The project also targetted facilitating learners use of breakthrough technologies for learning, i.e. 3D technologies (modelling, visualisation, simulation and printing), computer programming tools and A.I. cloud services within a social context through one single unified user interface for design and creation of computer-supported artefacts. With this, we expect to foster positive changes in attitudes towards STEAM education through the integration of maker movement practices that allow the co-design and co-creation of computer-supported artefacts.
The eCraft2Learn project has researched, designed, piloted and validated a learning ecosystem based on digital fabrication and making technologies for creating computer-supported artefacts, supporting both formal and informal learning settings. The overall ecosystem is composed of four central parts:
- a pedagogical methodology for deploying digital fabrication and making as part of STEAM education following five stages: ideation, planning, creation, programming and sharing
- a technical infrastructure constituting a physical learning environment for enabling digital fabrication
- a digital platform to support the pedagogical methodology: the unified user interface(UUI) for students and the learning analytics system interface for teachers, and
- an online educators community to enable them to connect and share experiences or questions on deploying and running the eCraft2Learn ecosystem or similar initiatives in the field.
To enable teachers and learners to deploy and work within the ecosystem, the project has created a large number of support materials which can be found on the digital platform and the official project website. To provide an overview of the ecosystem and get started with deploying it, the project has created a user manual containing 10 user guides for educators that are accessible through the project website, including use-cases and personas. The digital platform contains 100+ OERs on using electronic devices, using 3D printing and 3D modelling, using A.I. programming, worksheets, troubleshooting, and additional materials from the Ultimaker and Arduino Communities. Additional 30+ video resources are available on the project YouTube channel describing good practices, sample projects, introducing the UUI and the pedagogical methodology, as well as testimonials from teachers, students, coaches and parents involved in the project pilots. To answer technical questions for educators, Arduino has additionally provided 45 live-casts on educational aspects of their devices.
To raise awareness of the project result in the scientific community, in the broad educator community, as well as in policymakers and additional groups, the project has presented its outcomes in more than 55 conferences, events and exhibitions across the planet. The project has also released 26 scientific publications accessible through the project website. To enable the future exploitation of the ecosystem by deploying it in the classroom, the project website, the social media channels and the digital platform itself, contain abundant information on all of the components of the learning ecosystem.
The adoption of a single and integrated entry point, the digital platform, proved to be fundamental for learning and mastering the many technological tools that the teachers and the students use for hands-on digital fabrication and making activities proposed by the eCraft2learn methodology. For learners, the digital platform unified user interface performs a double role: on one side it directly incorporates the five-stage pedagogical approach adopted across the whole project, on the other side it presents suitable tools to perform the activities. Hands-on activities offer abundance learning opportunities and kinesthetic feedback that can cement concepts and by mapping learning to real-world applications, it anchors the relevance for learners. For teachers, the digital platform learning analytics system interface supports their role as coaches providing real-time monitoring of learners’ progress and analysis of their digital traces from the UUI. It also provides mechanisms to support learners’ self-reflection and self-regulation that the teacher can trigger. The eCraft2Learn learning ecosystem has a positive impact at the cognitive level as well as on the development of social skills like co-working, self-confidence and self-esteem and of 21st-century skills like problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking. The combination of the technologies used in this project offers a gateway to the skills required for future employment in the era of Industry 4.0.
Upon project conclusion, all defined claims on the benefits of the learning ecosystem have been validated by the pilot’s participants through a mixed scientific method to evaluate their experiences. The research data for the validation of claims came from classroom/session observations, questionnaires, learners' and teachers' diaries, interviews with learners and teachers in Greece and Finland, statements received by parents as well as additional documentation received by the participating teachers regarding the educational value of the eCraft2Learn learning intervention. The impact measurement confirms the following claims:
1. The eCraft2Learn ecosystem fosters Creativity
2. The eCraft2Learn ecosystem fosters Critical Thinking
3. The eCraft2Learn ecosystem fosters Problem Solving
4. The eCraft2Learn ecosystem fosters Collaboration Skills
5. The eCraft2Learn ecosystem is useful as a supporting backbone to the craft- and project-based learning pedagogy.
eCraft2Learn Factsheet Page 2
eCraft2Learn Factsheet Page 1