Learning by Creating
An overview of it as apedagogy in k12 education
The traditional approach to education involves the teacher imparting knowledge to the students through lectures, books, and assignments. However, this approach has been challenged by new pedagogies that focus on learning by creating. This approach involves students actively engaging in creating something, whether it’s a project, an artwork, or a written piece. In this article, we will explore the concept of learning by creating as a pedagogy in K12 education.
What is Learning by Creating?
Learning by creating is an approach to education that emphasises the importance of hands-on learning and active participation in the learning process. This approach involves students creating something, whether it’s a project, an artwork, or a written piece, to develop a deeper understanding of a topic.
Learning by creating is based on the belief that students learn best when they are engaged in the learning process. By creating something, students can apply the knowledge they have learned and develop a deeper understanding of the topic. This approach also helps to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills. Its benefits can be summarised as follows:
- It allows students to take ownership of their learning and become active participants. This can help to increase motivation and engagement, as students are more invested in the learning process when they are creating something themselves.
- Learning by creating encourages students to think critically and solve problems. When students are creating something, they are often faced with challenges and obstacles that they must overcome. This can help to develop critical thinking skills and encourage students to think creatively.
- Learning by creating can help to develop collaboration and communication skills. When students are working on a project together, they must communicate effectively and work together to achieve a common goal. This can help to develop teamwork and collaboration skills that are essential for success in both academic and professional settings.
Examples of learning by creating in the classroom include project-based learning, maker education, and digital storytelling. These approaches encourage students to be active learners and engage with the material in a way that is meaningful and relevant to their lives.
In summary, learning by creating is an approach to education that emphasises the importance of hands-on learning and active participation in the learning process. This approach can help to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills, and is increasingly being used in K12 education to promote student engagement and success.
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a popular example of learning by creating in K12 education. PBL involves students working on a project over an extended period that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. The project is open-ended, so students have the freedom to explore different solutions and develop their own ideas. PBL can be used in a variety of subjects, including science, social studies, and language arts. For example, a class studying water pollution could engage in PBL by creating a public service announcement video that educates the community on the importance of clean water.
Think Global School is worth looking at. Students at THINK Global School gain an education through a combination of firsthand cultural experiences and meaningful project-based learning. The school works with students in multiple countries on interdisciplinary, project based learning exercises that aims to help them derive answers to specific questions on the world around them, combing elements of the sciences, and literature, with global studies and any other courses they choose to utilise.
In the past they have sailed across Greece to recreate Homer’s The Odyssey, exploring central concepts from the historic saga, then in Kerala in India they mixed their travels and learning into simulated business ventures, helping them to develop further their decision making and problem solving whilst fine tuning their communication skills in the group task setting. This culminated in a competition similar to the television series Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank.
Maker education is another example of learning by creating in K12 education. Maker education involves students working with tools, materials, and technology to create something. This approach can include a variety of activities, such as coding, 3D printing, and woodworking. Maker education emphasises hands-on learning, and students are encouraged to explore and experiment with different materials and techniques.
At Ocean City Primary School, a group of 8-year-old students were given the design requirement to make something created a better school community whilst solving a problem. This allowed students to be creative and explore their interests in addressing a real-world issue. Students realised they had an authentic opportunity to make a difference in their school. They used a six-step program.
- Guide and facilitate: Where the teachers helped the students to discuss and debate before discarding the ideas that did not fulfil the criteria. Typically, the first ideas were discussed and debated, then discarded when they were found not to fulfil the criteria. Eventually, they began focusing on things the school didn’t have.
- Take the great idea surfaces and run with them. After a period, a student suggested building a makerspace. As they discussed what it might contain, their enthusiasm became contagious. The students were self-motivated, eager, and excited.
- Incorporate curriculum. The next step was to infuse the curriculum into it. In order to build a makerspace, students would need the idea approved by the school board, so they wrote a proposal, including a budget, so a lesson on financial budgets and digital spreadsheets was included. The makerspace needed room and a design it, so they explored measurements and design blueprints. It even included public speaking lessons so they could present their ideas.
- Guide students to overcome challenges. A budget was required to request funds. They quickly realised that the materials would need to be replenished continually year after year. Cotton balls, popsicle sticks, glue, rubber bands, and 3D printing filament require annual funding, and these items would exhaust their funds, so they decided to purchase building materials that could be used repeatedly. They decided on Lego.
- Plan and present: They identified an unused utility room in the school’s library and mapped out blueprints that included a research station, a dry-erase brainstorming window and table, and Lego storage bins. They found a company called Play Platoon that makes building bricks that are compatible with Legos, and purchase 65,000 bricks of various sizes and colours.
- As they shopped around, they discovered a giant Lego-like block called an Everblock that can build large structures, and they used them to build desks, the table, chairs, and the walls within the makerspace. The students took their project to the school board and presented it to an audience of nearly 100 community members, and the plans were approved.
Digital storytelling is a form of learning by creating that involves students using digital media to tell a story. This approach can include a variety of media, such as video, audio, and images. Digital storytelling encourages students to think critically about the story they want to tell and to consider the best way to present it using digital media. This approach can be used in a variety of subjects, including language arts, social studies, and science. For example, a class studying history could engage in digital storytelling by creating a podcast that explores the life of a historical figure.
For further reading, we recommend the article “Top 15 digital learning resources for storytelling in K-12” written by Oppida, a digital education agency that creates quality digital learning experiences.
Learning by creating is a pedagogy that emphasises the importance of hands-on learning. This approach has become increasingly popular in K12 education, as it helps students to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills. Project-based learning, maker education, and digital storytelling are just a few examples of learning by creating that can be used in the classroom. By engaging in learning by creating, students can develop a deeper understanding of the subject and apply their knowledge to real-world situations.