Jay Silver, a research assistant and Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Sciences in the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, demonstrates a new technology called Makey Makey that turns the whole world into a computer mouse. He says of its genesis: There I am, at an UnSchooling Camp, running a workshop, and a teen makes a musical looper out of an ordinary hula-hoop. Who would think of a hula-hoop as a music controller? This is the mindset of Makers. And watch out, because the Maker Movement is coming, and it’s dangerous to existing paradigms of education and industrial production! What tools will the Makers use?
A thought provoking manifesto (links to PDF) for any librarian interested in bringing the internet-of-things to a wider audience, from research developed via the Do-it-Yourself Smart Experiences project (DiYSE).
Currently, most existing creation platforms are tailored to specific types of end-users, mostly people with a substantial background in or affinity with technology. The thirteen items presented in the manifesto however, resulted from several user studies including non-technical users, and highlight aspects that should be taken into account in order to open up internet-of-things creation to a wider audience. To reach out and involve more people in internet-of-things creation, a relation is made to the social phenomenon of do-it-yourself, which provides valuable insights into how society can be encouraged to get involved in creation activities. Most importantly, the manifesto aims at providing a framework for do-it-yourself systems enabling non-technical users to create internet-of-things applications.
Faced with inadequate educational technology, few teachers would take it upon themselves to create an entire computer lab with no funding. It’s a daunting task, no doubt. But, Robert argues, it’s within every teacher’s capabilities. He came into the project with absolutely no computer repair or tinkering background. “My background is being a 6th grade teacher,” he says. “I am self-taught 100%.” He used free resources available online and troubleshot as he went along.
Robert advocates open-source software even for schools that aren’t lacking technology. US government reports say the digital divide is shrinking, at least in schools—97% of teachers have at least a single computer in the classroom. Yet that’s not the whole story. “The digital divide is growing in a hidden statistic,” Robert says, “the actual teaching of technology in a meaningful way.” He shows students how to do math on spreadsheets, how to make simple websites, how to put together slide presentations, all on free software. These are the computer skills that, students tell him, they are later expected simply to know. And with the prevalence of recycled computers, there’s no need for even 3% of classrooms to be without computers.
If you are interested in developing computer repair skills and knowledge of Linux, check out your local Free Geek, which has locations in fifteen cities in North America.
The MaKey MaKey is an electronics kit that can get anyone designing and inventing in a few minutes but can also double as an Arduino for more experienced makers.
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween …
MaKey MaKey runs on top of Arduino. You can start using your MaKey MaKey board in “Arduino mode” at any time. This would allow you to spin motors, turn on LEDs, or anything else that an Arduino can do. If you want to learn to use Arduino or other electronics, but want to start without any programming or breadboarding, MaKey MaKey is a good starting point.
Dr. North holds bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in science/engineering, notably creating the world’s first on/off gecko-mimetic adhesive. He’s published in a half-dozen major scientific journals, including Nature. Mike masterminded builds on the primetime Discovery Channel show Prototype This!, where he led teams of crack inventors and scientists to create never before seen spectacles of engineering.