Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning

Call for Manuscripts: Tinkering in Technology-Rich Design Contexts

Posted on September 18, 2017

Call for Manuscripts: Special Issue: Tinkering in Technology-Rich Design Contexts

Tinkering is a playful and iterative approach to solve problems through thinking, contemplating, and experimenting with given objects, tasks, or ideas (Martinez & Stager, 2013).Guided by imagination and curiosity, tinkerers take risks,play with their own ideas, decide what to do next, and create  prototypes through an iterative process of creating and solving problems. Tinkering is central to making, and today’s accessible powerful tools can facilitate tinkering by allowing learners to be the designers and makers of things and projects. Through 3-D printers, micro-computing, or computational tools, learners can create various systems such as simulations, games, or robotics. At the heart of tinkering is the will and skill to be able to design successful systems, and solve problems with or without the help of tools.

Various design, inquiry, or problem-based models and pedagogical approaches to learning can be embedded in technology-rich tinkering contexts. These contexts can be ideal platforms to integrate and teach important cognitive skills such as computational thinking or problem solving. Engagement (i.e., student interest and value) naturally built into tinkering contexts also helps with student perseverance and success.

Following in the footsteps of Papert’s constructionism(1980), recently, maker spaces—also called STEM or STEAM labs or studios—are increasingly finding a place in schools(Becker et al., 2017). These physical contexts are functioning as test-beds for teachers and students to design and create artifacts by inquiring, creating, and solving problems. Learning and teaching initiatives promoting making, computational thinking, and tinkering that are offered in these contexts face two issues. First, such initiatives are uncommon in the current public school education system, where competing curriculum priorities and lack of funds are main constraints (Google & Gallup, 2016; Guzdial, 2016). Second,there are only a few teacher educational programs preparing pre-service teachers to promote such learning (Yadav,Stephenson, & Hong, 2017). Although there are efforts all across the spectrum, there seems to be a lack of visibility of these efforts to guide, unify, and possibly help replicate future practice and research.

With this special issue, our goal is to bring together educators and researchers to share their experiences around issues related to inquiry, problem solving, and design in these technology-rich tinkering contexts. More specifically, we are looking for problem-based, project-based, or inquiry-based models and approaches to teaching and learning by tinkering in technology-rich design contexts in K–12, pre-service,and in service teacher education settings.

Topics include but are not limited to:

• Research on technology-rich design contexts that follow PBL and inquiry approaches
• Tinkering, design, computational thinking, and problem-solving
• Exploration of PBL and inquiry strategies in STEM orMakerspace contexts
• Tools that support PBL/inquiry and tinkering
• Issues and challenges in design, implementation, and research of PBL/inquiry strategies in technology-rich design contexts

Full paper submission: November 30, 2017

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