The ability for teachers and learners to contribute, learn from each other and remix is a powerful shared experience for all involved. The process provides opportunities for individual interpretation and expression of ideas. Through the introduction of the Lynx patchwork quilt project, the FabLearn Fellows were given just this opportunity and tasked with designing at least one tile or patch using the lynxcoding.club software.
Too often creative activities are delivered through meticulous step by step instruction resulting in whole class facsimiles of the same product, this not only stifles creative expression but limits the potential to explore individual ideas.
The patchwork quilt project provided little instruction but gave parameters to work within, everyone needed to create just one ‘patch’ the patches should be a uniform size and the ‘turtle’ should return to the bottom left corner of the patch. This allowed contributors to utilise each other’s code to achieve a quilt created using the designs created by the group.
The project allowed for individual expression and the end product was the result of everyone’s contribution. As the Fellows shared the code used to make their patch we were able to overcome challenges by learning from each other’s discoveries and move forward with our creations.
More often than not the computer is utilised in the classroom in an attempt to ‘program the child’ this approach is very much an opportunity for the child to program the computer. The visual feedback provides a fun and accessible way to try out codes, the ability to copy commands into ‘procedures’ was an intuitive way to build complex patterns.
When using the software I sometimes found that the code I had created generated unpredictable results encouraging me to go back to the procedures and try and debug where the issue was. Sometimes I even found myself turning my head or body to simulate the movement of the turtle.
The variety of interpretations of the brief was enriched by the Fellows introducing cultural elements to their designs, traditional tile designs and patchwork quilt production methods introduced us to cultural elements and provided insight into each other’s heritage.
This ‘modular’ approach to projects provides the opportunity for everyone to contribute to a bigger idea or finished product, all can be involved creating a rich environment for collaboration and the cross contamination of ideas. To hear that Lars’ students in Denmark had utilised some of my initial code was a great feeling and demonstrates the community aspect of this approach.
Although the contribution of ideas to create a collaborative piece of work is a technique I have employed to creative activities in the past the use of Lynx provides a new context to the approach, the ability to utilise, combine and modify each others code creates a scenario that emulates a developers use of repositories such as Github.