Sunday, November 03, 2019

The Three Game Changers and Disadvantaged Youth

This is my response to the Mparntwe / Alice Springs Youth Action Plan 2019-2021, see some extracts from this plan below.

The computer revolution powers ahead and conventional institutions, such as the education system, struggle to keep up.

The goal here is to identify the 3 game changers in modern computer technology and outline how they can be used to engage disadvantaged youth. The 3 game changers are coding, physical computing and maker spaces / fabrication. All of them have become far more accessible to users.

Coding: Block coding languages such as Scratch or MakeCode are far easier to use than text based languages. The ready access to multimedia (simple animations and sounds) in the design of Scratch allows a lot to be achieved quickly and engages new users.

This writer has developed outlines for a variety of projects with indigenous themes (1)

Physical computing: New microcontrollers such as the micro:bit (2) or Circuit Playground Express are inexpensive and combine programmable sensory input and output in an appealing, portable / wearable package.

Maker spaces and fab (fabrication) labs: Maker spaces can be constructed relatively cheaply. Buy a few craft items from Mad Harry’s and a few tools from Bunnings, do a little coding, connect with the Hummingbird Bit robotics kit and you can make a variety of projects that are both educational and entertaining (3, 4)

Fab Labs are more expensive. The underlying idea here is to provide the tools, such as laser cutters, for users to be able to make (almost) anything. Fab Labs are growing exponentially around the world. Some of them have been developed to operate in Disadvantaged communities. A Fab Lab can be used for training, making things useful to the user or for making things commercially.

Some extracts ...

The youth survey and summary data …. show that 30 percent of participating youth surveyed in Mparntwe / Alice Springs are disengaged from school

  • Provide learning opportunities for disengaged young people through the evenings and night. Investigate funding options to support community based education responses in both the urban and remote context
  • Build collaboration between the youth sector, NT Government, Department of Education and schools to support professional development of staff and case management support for young people
  • Consider gender issues when developing strategies for re-engaging young men and women in schools and education pathways
  • Improve access to education and training for young people in detention
  • Strengthen pathways to real local employment opportunities such as … Aboriginal and Islander Education Workers ...
Other goals of the plan which could be impacted by these ideas are:
Goal 2: Improve outcomes for young people in the youth justice system
Goal 3: Better support for remote communities
Goal 4: Support the development and implementation of mentoring programs for aboriginal young people
Goal 6: Develop integrated programs for young people who are out late at night

Mparntwe / Alice Spring Youth Action Plan 2019-2021

Bill Kerr articles
(1) Integrating the digital technology curriculum with indigenous knowledge systems
(2) making sense of the microbit
(3) bee waggle project with the Hummingbird Bit
(4) would you like to see a toilet roll dance?

Dougherty, Dale with Conrad, Ariane. Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is changing our schools, our jobs and our minds (2016)

Gershenfeld, Neil; Gershenfeld, Alan; Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld. Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution (2017)

Graves, Colleen and Aaron. The Big Book of Maker Space Projects (2017)

Graves, Colleen and Aaron. 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius (2017)

Martinez, Sylvia and Stager, Gary. Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom (2nd Edition, 2019)

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