Digital and physical fabrication as multimodal learning: Understanding youth computational thinking when making integrated systems through bidirectionally responsive design

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Abstract

This article proposes and explores the kinds of computational thinking, creative practices, design activities, and inclusive learning opportunities provided to diverse high school youth when designing integrated systems through simultaneously physically and digitally responsive wearable games and systems. Previous work in this area, conducted by Richard, coined the term "bidirectionally responsive design" (BRD) to describe the design of dual-feedback systems using multiple digital and physical interfaces. BRD also emphasizes using simplified fabrication tools, media and coding platforms, and microcontrollers common in youth content creation communities and makerspaces. This study provides a framework to analyze computational concepts, practices, and perspectives that leverage an integrated systems and multimodal learning approach, such as BRD, adding to, building on, and integrating previous analytic approaches to looking at Scratch coding, media design, physical computing and e-textiles. Using a detailed case study of one team during one of the early workshop iterations, we conduct a multimodal analysis of bidirectionally responsive making activities and discuss the ways that they present novel understanding of integrating diverse interests and encouraging collaborative and distributed computational thinking. We further examine how BRD operationalizes and extends multimodal learning theory by adding tangible and integrative dimensions as additional modalities learners can leverage to facilitate meaning making, metacognition, and agency. We also discuss how designing integrated systems, as facilitated through BRD, provides an opportunity to engage in authentic practices around the design of complex systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalACM Transactions on Computing Education
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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