Technology-Enhanced Exploratory Installations to Support Constructivist Professional Development: The Technology Test Kitchen

Technology-Enhanced Exploratory Installations to Support Constructivist Professional Development: The Technology Test Kitchen

Ann Terrill Musgrove (Florida Atlantic University, USA), Angela Gunder (The University of Arizona, USA), Jessica L. Knott (Michigan State University, USA), Frank Tomsic (Rush University, USA), Phylise Banner (Phylise Banner Consulting, USA), Robbie Melton (Tennessee Board of Regents, USA), David Goodrich (Michigan State University, USA) and Clark Shah-Nelson (University of Maryland, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2838-8.ch001


The growth in technology tools and their uses continues to grow at an exponential pace. Whether it is for personal or professional use technology is everywhere, and it is ubiquitous. It is changing the way we seek knowledge, interact with information, and process the world around us to construct our learning pathways. Technology has made it simple for us to be consumers of information, but how do we evaluate and synthesize this information to construct meaning and create value? The technology test kitchen is a curated and managed makerspace designed for exploratory installation where novices and experts engage in deep, meaningful, constructive uses of technology for teaching and learning. The goal of the test kitchen is acquisition of “native-expert” use of technology in support of authentic learning, engendering deeper levels of technological fluency within a constructivist professional development experience.
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A recent study by the Pew Research Center on lifelong learning and technology (Horrigan, 2016) found that despite the availability of digital technology and all of the resources that accompany it, more learners choose to pursue knowledge in physical settings than online. Moreover, the study found that the majority of adult learners seeking professional learning opportunities participate in learning activities in a work-related venue rather than on the Internet. The need for professional lifelong learning is well established with well over half of employed adults looking for training or coursework to learn, improve or maintain job skills in the last year. This research demonstrates that technology installations like the TTK are the preferred method for learners that want or need more professional learning opportunities. Learners are seeking face-to-face opportunities to increase professional technology knowledge. The TTK creates what Falk and Dierking (2002) identified as a free-choice learning space. Free-choice learning is a type of lifelong learning that is self-directed, voluntary, and guided by individual needs and interests

Understanding how learning occurs is a complicated theoretical construct. Why some approaches and techniques are more effective than others is still a cause for some debate. In the twentieth century several major learning theories have been posited on how the process of learning occurs. These theories fall into three major categories: behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Early learning theories focused on behaviorism and observation of end result of learning. Behaviorism has solid contributions to the puzzle of learning, but does not explain the process of learning and only focuses on the end result. Cognitivism can be traced back to the early twentieth century and explores the learning process, and the works of Edward Chase Tolman, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, and German Gestalt psychologists were instrumental in engendering the dramatic shift from behaviorism to cognitive theories (Yilmaz, 2011). The cognitive school views (1) learning as an active process “involving the acquisition or reorganization of the cognitive structures through which humans process and store information” and (2) the learner as an active participant in the process of knowledge acquisition and integration (Good & Brophy 1977; Merriam & Caffarella 1999).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Context Awareness: An attribute of devices and applications identified as nodes within the Internet of Things (IoT) whereby these nodes are able to determine where they are physically located and their proximity to other nodes.

EduGadgets: Emerging technology with advanced capabilities to both collect, track and provide data to users on when and how they are being used.

Internet of Things (IoT): A diverse collection of devices and objects of a multitude of sizes and purposes that are all connected through the exchange of data. Each device serves as a node that can communicate with other nodes, to include affecting the way that they operate.

Technology Test Kitchen: An exploratory installation featuring meaningful, constructive uses of technology for teaching and learning and support in the form of tools and guides, as well as designated volunteers.

Digital Reflections: An activity frequently scheduled within the Technology Test Kitchen where visitors are encouraged to use a dedicated space within the area to record a reflection on video. These reflections are sometimes guided by provided reflections or facilitated by an interviewer, sometimes a chef in the TTK.

Live Demo Space: A dedicated space within the Technology Test Kitchen for scheduled, synchronous presentations of effective practices and pedagogical applications of technology. The sessions, though led by a presenter, are rooted in the same hands-on, constructivist spirit as the informal demos held in the TTK.

Green Screen Booth: A space designated for recording subjects in real time using chroma key technology that takes their video and layers an alternative image in the background of the subject(s). Frequently, within the TTK, participants will record digital reflections using a mounted recording device within a green screen booth.

Exploratory Installation: A dedicated space for interacting, testing and assessing the value and uses of emerging technology in the creation of meaningful pedagogical solutions and interventions. The space, most critically, consists of dedicated volunteers supporting participants in their explorations, in addition to technology and tools for reflection and documentation.

Makerspace: A constructivist space where participants interact with resources and each other to brainstorm, strategize and create solutions to challenges presented to the group. Quite often, these spaces feature specific technology used to support the prototyping of objects that support the formulation of effective practices and applicable interventions for the aforementioned challenges.

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