The phenomenon of early school leaving is a complex problem that involves several dimensions of social life, very often strictly linked to social contest marked by poverty and exclusion.
But there are also reasons that arise from personal factors, family matters, learning difficulties and more generally, how the school education system is organised and the role that the individual plays in it.
For all these reasons, the answers to the phenomenon of dispersion should be in order to counteract and reduce the seriousness of the problem and the initiatives must be several and addressed to educational ,social, labour and health policies.
Digital education is a fundamental element to increase the motivation of young people in general, and to counteract inequalities in learning even if technology itself is not enough, but must be accompanied by a technological and digital renewal of teaching methods and approaches.
For some years, the social policies of the Municipality of Fano have been aimed to promoting technologies in favour of adolescents and young people not only during school but above all in their free time, offering a FabLab service with spaces for the construction of three-dimensional products and devices and spaces for playinginstruments.
Agreements were made with local high schools to accompany students during class hours, offering atechnologicallaboratory where they could learn how to build and use 3Dproducts and drones.
So much curiosity was aroused that in the afternoon many of them began to attend the FabLab deepening their knowledge, often abandoning the unqualified attendance of leisure time without interest but mostly marked by boredom and sometimes forms of aggression towards peers.
Counteract the use of drugs and alcohol abuse in young people is the mission of the municipal social services that strongly believes in offering opportunities for healthy interests by keeping adolescents and young people away from degraded spaces and often prone to violence.
The Make in Class project is developing different tools for secundary teachers to use maker-based activities with students to develop teaching-learning processes, and especially to reduce school failure. Perhaps it would be interesting to start by defining what are exactly maker based activities.
The maker movement
In 2005, Dale Dougherty launched the magazine “Make” where the concerns of many people who liked to “make” things were collected. In 2006 he launched the Maker Faire event where the “makers” show their projects year after year. From there, the movement grew until our days in which people of all ages with more or less knowledge about technology has joined this movement that even has its own Manifesto.
The maker movement promotes the idea that all people are capable of developing any object, “do it yourself” (DIY), instead of ordering it or buying it. The maker movement is a social movement that began with craft manufacturing and where digital interaction and manufacturing methods have been quickly integrated mainly due to 3 factors: 1. The integration of electrical and electronic components. 2. The emergence of digital tools for design and manufacturing with affordable sizes and prices: 3D modeling programs, 3-D printers, laser cutters, 3-D scanners. 2. Social and collaborative digital media, which have fostered collaborative innovation on the web and where innumerable open source digital practices are shared.
What are “maker based activities”? They are activities, challenges, personal fabrication projects with the “do it yourself” philosophy where creativity, autonomy and collaboration are essential factors.
These activities can range from traditional manufacturing:
simple objects with traditional materials (paper, cardboard, plastic, light plywood, etc.),
objects with recycled materials (boxes, light containers, toys, etc.),
up to digital manufacturing:
physical objects to which are added electrical components (cables, switches, batteries, …)
For more than 10 years, communities of people and companies interested in programming and electronics have developed technology that makes it easy to connect, control and interact with physical objects directly or even through the Internet using mobile devices such as our mobile phone. For example: Arduino or Raspberry Pi circuit boards that can be “programmed” from the computer. Thanks to the technology of “programming by blocks”, to start coding is as simple as assembling pieces of a puzzle. It can be said that technology is becoming more “inclusive”. You can “manufacture” projects with simple technology and with little money thanks to electronic components are becoming cheaper and because there are many software applications with free or open source versions. The computer and mobile devices, such as phones or tablets, have become a tool where hundreds of programs can be used to “create” and perhaps for this reason, the concept “maker” sometimes transcends the idea of creating projects with only “tangible” elements. Makers creativity sometimes need to use software apps to complete their projects. In other words, we can “manufacture” a virtual object with 3D modeling software to be printed and maybe we need also create with this object a digital film through video recording and editing.In short, we can say that a “maker” activity is always creative and it has a simple or complex project behind it.
The degree of integration of technology will depend on different factors: age, knowledge and skills on different techniques and technologies of people “maker”, type of workspace, equipment, budget, personal, professional or educational objective, etc.
Education and the maker culture Active learning ( “learning by doing”), teamworking, solving problems in a collaborative way, autonomy or creativity are being key in the new methods of learning in schools, and these elements are adjusted to the DNA of the maker movement. “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.” At present, there is a great interest to develop in the students basic and professional competences that still cost to develop in the classrooms. It is for these reasons that teachers are interested in everything that has the name “maker”, and begin to experience this type of activities, initially in the subjects related to STEAM areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. But….if these activities are implemented beyond the scope of technology subjects?
The last weeks our team spent a lot of time interviewing teachers and experts in the field of Making and we found out that the field we’re searching in is just about to start to work with maker based tools and activities, but making is hardly integrated in the standard curriculum yet. Up to now it rather seems to be an after school activity to enrich pupils that are very keen on learning technical things like robotics and drones, the courses are held by an expert teacher who likes making, or programming.
But walking through Make Munich Maker Fair beginning of march, we saw lots of different people doing very interesting making projects that can be adapted and implemented into school curricula. Our goal now is to widen the field, to motivate a lot more teacher on the one hand, no matter what subject, in order to reach more pupils by integrating Making into normal lessons.
In order to reach that goal, we work out different projects. Very small to long projects, easy to hard projects, cheap to expensive projects, projects that do not need a lot of equippment, that can be held within one or two hour lessons, up to others that take half a year and that need some equippment like 3D Printer, lasercutter, vinylcutter, electronics, drones…
Providing this range of activities including knowledge and the implementation into standard curricula of secondary schools we hope that soon a lot more pupils will get to know and get to love this sort of activities and without realizing will be motivated and keen on learning again. In the end the normal lessons are enriched with making acivities to better motivate the pupils and to make them want to invent, learn, construct and therefore need to be able to read, calculate and write…
An example: Stop Motion – subjects language and arts: starting the project with finding a topic, write a storyboard, paint and build background and choose figures, do the stop motion video, write dialogs, do the sounds. Present the film. You will see that pupils are very keen on working in a team, thinking of a story, writing a story board, getting all the equippment needed, painting and working on the backgrounds with different machines.. learning how to 3D model to get figures and houses, how to lasercut etc you can get all sorts of marks for your subject as a side effect.
So given the fact that all over Europe we deal with pupils that are more or less bored and unmotivated during „normal“ lessons, where they have to sit and listen and perceive intellectual input, that often is not related to anything they are interested in, our project aims to provide a lot of interesting little, medium or big projects for teachers, that they easily can implement into their lessons, to help those pupils to find a way back into learning and in the end everyone will be able to find a job after finishing school.