Process or outcome. What’s more important?

It was a good week.  A positive way to ease back into the routine after a leisurely spring break.

The DIY/Maker kids wrapped up their independent projects and presented their process/projects this week.  The projects included a puppet show, a matchbox pinhole camera, a board game, a couple of video projects combining spring break footage with music, baskets made from found cardboard and yarn, and a photography project that involved taking photos of students’ and creating collages from those portraits like this image by this Mike Marrero (I think).

pinhole came

We spent some time talking about process versus product/outcome, a point of conversation inspired by Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.

I asked if Mau’s statement was true.  Is process really more important than outcome?  The opinions were mixed, and to be honest I’m really undecided.  No, maybe it’s less about being undecided and more about responding to the question with, “It depends.”

In my efforts to learn Scratch, something I’ve been doing as part of MIT’s Learning Creative Learning MOOC, process matters a lot.  I’ve been paying close attention to what works for me as a learner, especially as a learner of something completely new.  What causes friction?  The process has been insightful and has maybe provided some “data” I can use the next time I take on something new.  However, the more I roll it over in my head, the more I think that reflecting on the process IS the product or desired outcome.  The point isn’t to necessarily master Scratch, but to consider how I learn and what it means to be a student and/or self-directed learner.

But here’s the thing… if someone is paying me to create a product or get something done, a bunch of navel gazing and half-baked blogging about “process” isn’t going to make many people happy.

It’s the process where we learn from mistakes and where we learn what works well.  It’s the process that teaches us how to create that awesome product.  It’s the process that toughens the mental and physical resolve to get after it…  to get things done.

Or maybe that’s all hippie BS.

The class consensus was that it was indeed the product/outcome that was most important.  However, one student–a puppeteer–boldly admitted that he could’ve cared less about the final product.  It was the process–the making of the puppet show–that was the most fun… the place where the memories were made.

Truth.  The process lends itself to memory making.  Maybe those memories involve laughs with friends, but those memories are also, “X works for me.” and “I suck at Y.”  All useful insights to have when moving on to the next product or outcome.

 

 

blank paper + markers + public venue + high school kids =

Disaster, right?  Not entirely.  The DIY/Maker seminar students took over three blank boards in the hallway for a couple of interactive art projects.

photo(5)The board on the far left was based on the “Before I Die” project.

photo(6)The board on the right are coloring pages that can be removed, colored, and tacked back up.  The project was born out of a class conversation about the the effects of a large-scale construction project currently taking place on campus.  Fencing went up around much of the interior of campus.  Convenient paths from getting from on building to another are blocked for now.  The students say its reminiscent of prison or some post-apocalyptic zombie world.  Our question was how can we bring some whimsy to this situation?

It took maybe one school day for students to populate the “Before I Die” walls.

Some comments were reflective.  Some were silly.  Some were knee-deep  chest-deep in the waters of inappropriateness.

photo(2)

 

 

 

 

 

Unicorn races

Some reflections were scratched out either by the contributor or other students (maybe even staff/faculty).

photo(4)

Here are some questions/observations I’ve been rolling around in my head:

  • Does a space like this create yet another place where someone can be mistreated by his/her peers?
  • What are the implications of anonymity?
  • If a community sets the standards, how does the community enforce those standards?  Who is the enforcer?  How is that determined?  And what happens when different subsets of a community have different standards?
  • Why are spaces like this so appealing?  What is it that makes people want to share?
  • There is a secret language on these boards–a lot of inside jokes–that alarmed (perhaps rightly so) some staff and faculty.  Is the alarm warranted?  Is the “secret language” reminiscent of children’s made-up languages or is the intent not as innocent?

Senior seminar meets again Tuesday.  I’m hoping we’ll have an interesting class discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better living through better hacks (or knowing how things work)

Tonight was my greatest achievement in… well, a while.  I worked most of the week on a 30 minute presentation for VSTE’s VirtualVA2013 because I’m that kind of person.  Not an overachiever, but a non-talker… an introvert… an internal processor.  And then there’s the fact that I can’t pronounce words like “inquiry” and “peripheral” thanks to my Cumberland County slur.

I talked about the importance of third spaces and how they’re vital to the cross-pollination of ideas and the nurturing of the adjacent possible.  I talked about the Academic Commons that will open in 2013.  I talked about makerspaces.  I don’t think I sounded like a lunatic.  I think I made sense.  I think the presentation went ok.  I’m really excited about getting more involved with VSTE.  But what I’m really proud of is solving the gigantic Java tech issue I experienced all by myself.

The brief timeline of events:  (1) Java wouldn’t launch when I tried to get into the Blackboard Elluminate room.  (2) I think maybe it’s because I’m trying to log in too early.  (3) That’s not the case.  (4) I think, “Well, it worked fine Tuesday.  (4a.)  Check Blackboard Elluminate support page and see this:

Announcement: Thursday, January 31, 2013 – Some Mac OS users are unable to run Java. This issue will prevent users from opening any Java based application including Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing, Elluminate Live! 10, SAS, Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring, and Wimba Classroom. We are investigating alternative options and will provide update in this area as soon as possible. Click here for more information.

Crap.

(5) I try to update Java  (6) Software update wants to connect to school’s software server.  I’m not at school.  (7) Being mild panic attack.  (8) I vaguely remember logging into the school’s server via a VPN a few years ago.  Surprisingly, I still remember how to do it.  (9)  Update Java.  (10)  Still no go.  (11)  Fine.  I’ll do this workaround, which involves the terminal and sudo and warnings that you had better be sure about what you’re doing:

WARNING: Improper use of the sudo command could lead to data loss or the deletion of important system files. Please double-check your typing when using sudo.

But what the hey.  Java was screwed anyway.  I had nothing to lose but the connections with other educators and the time I spent preparing.

And there we go.  It worked.

Here’s the thing though: If it weren’t for my failed attempts at C programming and Unix school and a Linux class, I don’t know if I would’ve been comfortable futzing about in the terminal.  If it weren’t for past experiences, I probably wouldn’t have known to access the Collegiate server through the VPN.  Even though updating Java didn’t work, it was a possible solution.

What am I getting at?  I think I did some creative thinking under a deadline, and I’m pretty pleased with how things turned out.

And this brings me to my Maker Manifesto that I did for senior seminar.

Maker manifesto

Maker manifesto    

Figuring out how things work–even if it’s just trivial figuring–is empowering.  Having some idea–just a basic idea–of how things work or talk goes a long way in finding a solution.  That’s one reason why this maker movement is so appealing.  To make something, you need to know about all of its parts.  You need to know how it fits together.  Crawl under your house and spend an afternoon rerouting water lines and you’ll really develop an appreciation for indoor plumbing.  You’ll also develop an understanding for that system.  Understanding the system leads to better hacks, better solutions, and maybe better systems.

 

Commitment

I think the time has come to start using this space.  It will be done.  This will be my official thinking space for the DIY/Maker senior seminar which starts Tuesday.  This space will soon be populated with great insight, meaningful reflections, and unprecedented successes….  I hope.

Stay tuned.