Sept - Dec 2016
Global Digital Innovation
Edu Tech 


Tinkering ON —


An immersive and engaging approach to embracing computers and technology – that is what Seymour Papert brought to the world. South African born Seymour Paper, who died in July 2016 and whose legacy still lives on and is recognised as the founding thinker and doer in getting learners especially children to engage actively with technology as curators and creators of content and not as passive recipients. As Papert said ‘The best learning takes place when the learner takes charge’

Why Tinkering and Making matter
In the shift to a world of makers, creativity, creators and tinkering– Tinkering Studio and its tinkering magic is rapidly making waves. The tinkering mindset is made easy and possible – and as Ryan Jenkins, Tinkering Studio Education Developer, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco tells us that its constructionist model is attributable to Seymour Papert.

On asking Ryan why was Tinkering Studio created, Ryan tells us that was Tinkering Studio came out of a series of art/science/technology based professional development workshops that were part of the Playful Invention and Explorations (PIE) project. As the exploratorium moved to a new building we wanted to create a public workshop for visitors to explore materials, learn new tools and get a chance to create personally meaningful projects.

Engaged by this Digitalnfo wanted to know more about what underpins the programming behind Tinkering Studio and Ryan shared that Tinkering Studio acknowledges it is based on a constructionist philosophy of learning developed by Seymour Papert and others that states that people learn best when they are actively engaged in creating something that reflects their personal path to understanding.

We heard more about how the digital landscape at Tinkering Studio is evolving and Tinkering Studio is currently experimenting with incorporating computational elements into tinkering activities, figuring out ways to combine the physical and digital worlds to increase opportunities for personal expression.

By creating many different entry points for activities and by supporting people to follow their individual paths we hope to create an environment where people of all backgrounds can participate and enjoy art, science and tech experiences.

Digitalnfo has heard that Tinkering Studio is active in other countries. How many countries and how does it get there?

All of Tinkering Studio activities and resources are open source and many museums, makerspaces and schools have taken these ideas and adapted them to different contexts. Tinkering Studio has strengthened ties through workshops and conference presentations both at the Exploratorium and different locations around the world. They also have a online MOOC on coursera where people around the world can learn about their approach and share ideas.

We told Ryan we hope to bring Tinkering Studio to South Africa in some way, and asked what his thoughts were on that? If not physically just yet Digitalnfo thought it would be great to post a video of a tinker make activity with easy to find items on our site.
We got a resounding — Sounds great! We’re happy to help where we can. We have pdfs on our website for several different activities including marble machines, paper circuits, and scribbling machines. There’s also a good video of the space in action from the online course:

Now thats Tinkering on..

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Creator Spaces   Designing Innovation Economics


Ayesha Dawood

I liked this when I came across it “Thinking is a kind of making, and making is a kind of thinking" says Jessie Shefrin former Provost of The Rhode Island School of Design and past Dean of Graduate Studies of The Rhode Island School of Design.

I like this too, alot 'design thinking ... is the expression of communication – the form itself...' that is the response I got when I asked John Maeda, at a talk at MIT this year what design thinking is -- Is it the form, is it the way it is presented .. and how does it impact international affairs? His response has got me mulling on innovation economics – and a very 21st century focus. The innovation economics idea was introduced to me by Professor William Fisher of Harvard Law School, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property. And so Professor Fisher I take the liberty to propel this idea to designing innovation economics in the 21st century. So here I am positing Creator Spaces as innovation economics in action. And yes, Prof Fisher, Intellectual Property is important and as you say, only and only if it creatively engages with culture. So I take the creative engaging with the culture of a people, the culture of counties ... to a culture of creation. So, I am building and creating and designing too. Is this Ronald Dworkin`s chain novel theory playing itself out – a step by step building of things.

In particular I focus on Creator and Maker spaces which I call Creator Spaces. It is a movement rapidly gaining traction – and pioneering new pedagogies – tinkering, creator and playful learning pedagogies. No doubt this is influencing and will continue to improve a whole new wave – tinkering, playful learning and learning through play and exploration heralding novel creations as well as iterations in the new edu- tech era.

This is innovation economics birthed. A world of tinkering, software and hardware creation including an immersive engagement with technology and with materials –that is what empowers us to be courageous and creative. To make, to create – the art of playful learning and innovator spirit is boldly borne.

In seeing what we create – both online with immersive engaging of technology to building with our minds and hands to creating with materials to embracing the realm of possibilities and yes frameworks ( the lawyer in me screams legal frameworks as much computational thinking calls for system frameworks ). That is the power of Creator Space. They energise, motivate, uplift and propel growth in ones own sense of self, in creativity, in making, in building, in designing and cognition and critical thinking. And this is why it makes sense – it is innovation economics in both the digital and physical – a new form of a connected world – a world of immersive technology made simple – a world of creative making and a world of design and designing new things – software, new hardware, new things and while the search for new hardware forms and hardware materials is increasingly opening up new possibilities in materials.... Creator Spaces are about working with what is available as well making new from afresh and in that process new forms are birthed – New software creation is Creator Space and open source learning and remixing also lend impetus to this. See what amazing creations Scratch, an open source computer programme inspiring community learning and inspiring kids to create stories, animations and games - initiated at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarden Group - is doing for kids globally here

Designing Creator Spaces is about inspiring people to take charge of their minds and ideas. I marvelled at watching the excitement and agility of the kids at MIT `s Scratch Day this May. Boundless enthusiasm and fun creations – and such confidence.

A new creator pedagogy in the making – yes – but maybe not so new in Africa and emerging economies where creator crafts and tinkering necessities were birthed. It is this staple that will take the shift to tinkering and artful play in emerging economies to levels unparalleled and a boon for innovation economics. Now that is design thinking innovation economics.  Creator Spaces is innovation economics. And yes, Intellectual Property matters.

Ayesha Dawood is a lawyer, writer and artist and educator. She is a Harvard and South African educated lawyer (@ConsultAyesha) She has an LL.M from Harvard Law School and is a recent Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University.