Week 8 Open Make Starts

This week we dove into what is called an open make or a pick a project that you are interested in and dive in phase. I am actually quite surprised that it took us this long to reach this part of the curriculum. We all reflected a while back during conversations on the discussion forum, about the challenges we all face when balancing pre-load verses free exploration in class. One school of thought which is reflected in much of the Maker movement readings, is to allow for a more free form unscripted exploration of problems, projects, and materials that maybe interesting to the student. The thinking here is that this will result in the student exploring something that they are interested and in and possibly passionate about. Hard to argue with allowing students to work on interesting things.

Other teachers will counter that some subjects are best understood, once a background or base level of knowledge as been presented and understood. The next step in that process would be application of that knowledge. This aligns well with Bloom’s taxonomy which is of course the area of focus that this website targets.

I do have a bias towards Bloom’s model but I also appreciate the power of passionate exploration. So why did we spend 7 weeks exploring small makes of pre-determined topics before we arrived at an open make? Good question. I suspect my professor will of course add some insights via comments to this post. I can only theorize that she wanted to give us the broadest exposure possible to the material and provide grounding in the basics before turning us loose.

As an instructor I struggle with the small dilemma when balancing pre-load vs free exploration. I have found that Agile’s iterative practices that are found in Scrum for example help. Basically break your material down into small chunks, understand what learning outcomes should be measure, adjust and repeat as needed until you have achieved the learning objectives.

In my mind at least key is mixing the presentation of background materials mixed with Project Based Learning in small chunks. The ratio and timing is dependent upon the level of expertise and maturity of the students. For example I will readily throw my Grad students into big challenging social innovation challenges, like reducing plastic waste in the ocean. That is a big tough overwhelming problem for sure and a tremendous opportunity to use Design-Thinking in a way that is not prescribed or formulaic. I would hesitate to present that same challenge to an Undergrad class. Maybe I am too cautious?

Back to the week at hand.

I explored turning my 2017 Subaru Forester into a mini camper. Basically I have key assumptions that I need to test this week. Can it be done? Who has done it? Will I fit? (I am 6ft tall). Can I do low fidelity prototyping to answer the last question? Finally what will it cost?

My challenge this week was time and weather.

Hopefully it will stop raining and I can spend some quality time Sunday measuring and prototyping.

I am actually pretty excited to build this project. I have been thinking about it for a while and the class gave me an excuse ( permission) to tackle it. It seems pretty basic a project to build the sleeping platform.The fun and challenge will be in creatively jamming a weeks worth of gear, food and assorted things into such a small space. The only way to explore that is to start building. I built my boat the same way. I started with plans and “enhanced” the design to fit my needs as I built.

We are hoping to do a big road trip out to Utah next summer, camping and MTN bike along the way. This would really help to make that a reality.

From my research I have discovered that a lot of climbers, kayakers, and surfers will camp this way. The term they use is “dirtbag camping” Sounds like fun to me.

Stay tuned.


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