Works of Heart: Revisiting Creativity in the Curriculum through Digital Making


This session directly addresses the themes of Teaching Making and Making Teaching. The research involves a group of graduate education students who were immersed in a critical making course, through five online maker modules. They engaged in the creative process of making over the duration of the course and reflected on their own experiences as makers, in addition to reflecting on how those experiences would reshape their teaching pedagogies with their students.


Participants in our session will engage in a rich discussion about creativity and its role in the current maker movement in education. They will explore a series of five freely available online modules based on critical making, created by the researcher and her team. They will develop an understanding of maker pedagogies and how they contribute to the current focus in education on personalized and self-directed learning. Finally, they will leave with a small kit to create their own "work of heart".


Makerspaces are creative spaces where people gather to tinker, create, invent, and learn. Our research focuses on what educators need to understand about maker pedagogies, and how maker pedagogies support student learning across subject areas. The maker movement was borne out of the increasing number of people who creatively engage in both physical (or tangible) and digital fabrication to solve an existing problem or need and to share their design and making with a community of like-minded innovators (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Do-it-yourself (DIY) paradigms have recently re-emerged as a medium for creative expression and self-directed learning. As they gain popularity, these DIY models, rooted in design thinking and innovation, are beginning to move into the realm of formal education. In educational realms, the maker movement is associated primarily with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or with STEAM (which adds a focus on embedding the Arts into STEM); more generally, maker pedagogies promote important principles including inquiry, play, imagination, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and personalized learning. The maker movement has led to increased creation of new, in-school makerspaces for practising hands-on learning, encouraging girls to participate in STEM activities, and emphasizing the idea that every child can become an innovator (Kafai et al., 2014).

Situated within a constructionist approach to education,8 making connects the physical processes of constructing something with digital media. Making with digital media is not new in education; teachers have been working with their students to create digital stories and other digital texts for many years. The recent advent of user-friendly digital tools augments this digital fabrication, making it easier for students to create multimodal, multimedia content. Importantly, this positions students as producers rather than just consumers and re-introduces creativity into a curriculum that has been increasingly devoid of creative endeavours, particularly as policy makers and politicians call for standardized assessments and accountability (Robinson, 2011). Most recently, as educators grapple to identify the skills and competencies that students will need to succeed in a digital world, creativity and creative thinking in particular have resurfaced as important to 21st century teaching and learning. One approach to developing creativity, that has recently received much attention, is the use of personalized learning, which is supported through the use of maker pedagogies. In this study, we immersed a class of graduate education students in the practice of critical and creative making with both digital and real-world artefacts as a vehicle for collaborative knowledge sharing and generation, deep learning and meaningful engagement in their own creative processes. For the purposes of this presentation, we will focus on three case stories that illuminate how students created what we call “works of heart” that were intensely personal, creative and transformational in terms of their own teaching pedagogies.