Lessons from a Global Design-Centered Learning Network - Digital Promise

Lessons from a Global Design-Centered Learning Network

October 17, 2017 | By

What happens when students and teachers are invited to define the problems they want to solve and design solutions to address them, using powerful technology for creation and collaboration?

Digital Promise Global set out to answer this question through a year-long research study in collaboration with Designs for Learning. Our research focused on the experiences of a global network of Learning Studios located across Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Learning Studios, a program directed by Digital Promise Global as part of HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom initiative, engages a diverse group of learning centers around the world, ranging from traditional school settings to after-school and out-of-school programs, and supports them in bringing design-centered learning to their students. Depending on the setting, the Learning Studio may be made available to students in a classroom, a repurposed school bus that travels to schools across a single district, or in a creative recycling center.

All Learning Studio sites receive a common bundle of advanced technologies for designing and making – including a Sprout by HP, HP Convertible Notebooks, a Dremel 3D printer, and supplemental tools and resources including Makey Makeys, modeling clay, and take-it-apart construction kits. To support educators in the Learning Studios, Digital Promise Global provides professional learning opportunities, facilitates an online learning community, and develops and curates creative projects for students.

Each semester, sites take on a common Challenge, such as a Global Goals, Local Solutions Challenge focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or a Play to Learn Challenge inviting students to design a game to help players learn something new. These global Challenges have resulted in a wealth of student-produced solutions – from a kid-friendly prosthetic arm, to sustainable cities of the future, to games that teach adults the challenges of being a teenager.

What did we learn from the first year of the Learning Studios program? Not surprisingly, that context matters. The Learning Studios program engaged a broad and varied group of sites and educational environments, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of implementation context on technology use and learning, and to capture insights about challenges and best practices that may prove useful to the broader maker learning field.

The Learning Studios Report analyzes student and teacher growth across a number of impact areas, including student confidence as designers and makers, growth in engagement and persistence, agency and ownership of learning, and collaboration and communication skills.

“The main area of growth that I witnessed was in the children’s ability to think outside the box, once they got the idea that they were allowed to think outside the box. The children are so used to being rooted in fairly traditional pedagogy. So when you suddenly say, ‘we’re going to do Learning Studio and you’re going to work in groups and come up with solutions to these challenges… That’s a big, big change from the teacher standing in front of the group directing the activities.”
– Primary School Principal

We hope this research will be useful for school leaders and practitioners who are considering maker learning initiatives in their own contexts. For us, the experiences of schools and youth organizations across such a diverse range of cultures and contexts around the world has been illuminating, and we look forward to continuing to learn with this expanding and increasingly diverse global network.

Visit Learning Studios Research to download the full report. 

To access teacher resources and creative projects curated for Learning Studio students, browse the updated Learning Studios Teacher’s Guide.

To learn more about joining the Learning Studios as it moves beyond the pilot phase, visit our Professional Services page.

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