In a conversation with a Design and Technology teacher, she mentioned that the current emphasis is now on the thought process as much as hands-on technical work. We then went on to chat about how the young today seem to have fewer opportunities for tinkering – factors include the situations that they are just too busy, they spend so much time on technology devices and that with electronic goods, there are now less mechanical things for them to disassemble and assemble.
Having the chance to tinker, also sometimes called thinker, is important. Gever Tulley believes in that and have set up the Tinkering School.
This video clip showing a kid designing cardboard chair could inspire others to try it out.
Does this then mean that it is either tinkering or the use of technology for learning? In fact, I think that in tinkering, there is also a place for leveraging on technology to support and even enhance the learning.
It could be start at making a multi-media record of the process be it in photos, a blog or an e-book. This translation and record-making provides the platform for the learner to reflect and consolidate the learning. And such reflection and consolidation is essential for deep and lasting learning.
In the kid designer clip, the kid was fortunate to have been able to consult his architect dad. While we may not be able to easily invite an expert into the classroom, with technology we can certainly increase the access to experts. Through virtual meetings , we can increase the chance of being able to accommodate the schedule of the experts. Technology also allows connection to experts beyond the classroom and go virtually anywhere in the world to seek them out.
Besides communication tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts, I think a useful support web tool or app would be one that helps match experts to the classroom. I do not as yet know of such a tool, so if you do, please let me know.