Recently, there has been a focus of creating with high tech technologies. Things such as the 3D printer have really influenced the idea of making for many educators. Now the question is, “why make, when you can get the computer to make it for you”. Technological advancements such as the 3D printer are definitely on the rise and very important to educate students about because they will undeniably continue to grow in popularity and take a great role in the future. However, these types of high-tech making should not eliminate the importance or use of low-tech making. I believe that both have a very valuable role for students as makers. Throughout my teaching career I have seen examples of both low tech and high tech making each with their own advantages and disadvantages both of which I will discuss below.
As a Teacher Candidate in a Kindergarten classroom, I oversaw a lesson conducted by my Associate Teacher where students worked in small groups to create their own business using a large selection of provided materials (cardboard boxes, tape, paint, glue, etc). This lesson was very open ended because the teacher wanted to let the students have complete creativity. The results were so impressive as some students had created restaurants with menus and tables and food and others created a pet shop with a cash register and pet supplies with prices. One group even created a jewelry store where they made all the jewelry themselves. I was amazed by how detailed the items they created were and how proud they were of their businesses. The disadvantages to this type of making was that it was very time consuming. Since everything was created by hand it took a lot of time to focus on and perfect each item. I noticed one student who was responsible for creating menus put so much time and care into the first one, and then became a lot less patient and did not put the same effort into the others.
As an Occasional Teacher I oversaw a grade 3 classrooms that was creating restaurants using an online computer game. They were responsible all the aspects of creating and managing a restaurant including designing, pricing, hiring etc. Having the chance to look through a few of the students work I was once again very impressed. Although the students were limited to making a restaurant this did not limit their creativity and no two restaurants were the same. The disadvantages to this type of making is that students who weren’t familiar with using the game, or a computer struggled more than others. With using any sort of technology for making, there is a learning curve with teaching students the fundamentals. One student who was new to the school and country had spent a large portion of the class simply logging into the account and opening up the game because he was still learning how to operate the computer.
Both lessons had advantages and disadvantages but it was undeniable that in both scenarios students were engaged by having the opportunity to freely create. Making should not be limited to one over the other. After seeing this I have had the opportunity in a language lesson to have students create a menu. We discussed the advantages of using technology to create a menu such as consistency, easy reproduction, readability etc. I had them design the menus and print them out on the computer. But as a cross curiculuar element I had them choose an item from their menu to create with clay. I discussed how in many restaurants in Japan, in the windows will be displayed dishes created so people can see how the items they will choose look and this was a great way to combine both elements of making. I showed them two videos prior to, one of replica food and the other of a graphic designer explaining how to create a menu.