Connecting Making, Designing and Composing

In her closing keynote at FabLearn a couple years ago, Leah Buechley turned a critical eye on the maker movement. If you don’t know Buechley’s work, she is arguably one of the maker movement’s central players, founding the former High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab and inventing the LilyPad Arduino, among many other contributions. She is a champion of making, which makes her all the more thoughtful in her critiques. Buechley asks us to consider who gets to make and who is represented in the maker movement. I thought about her keynote a lot this fall as I moved through a range of conferences focused on digital literacies, design thinking, and making.

As someone who thinks about the teaching of writing and its connections to making and design, what I hope to offer below are some provocations, and perhaps even a cautionary tale, as design thinking and the maker movement move to a more central place in formal education. Two conferences in particular this fall, the Digital Media & Learning Conference and FabLearn 2017, are the inspiration for the series of questions and provocations that follow.

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