Loravore®️ Learning Design Notebook | Entry: 005 Articulating the “T” in STEAM to Engage Learners as STEAM Professionals

This entry describes blended learning that empowers learners to collaborate, create, and communicate like STEAM professionals.

Loravore®️ Learning by Bluknowledge Design Notebook Entry: 005 Date: 2.20.2020
Instructional Design Bytes byte-sized instructional design tips for blended learning


Articulating the "T" in STEAM to Engage Learners as STEAM Professionals

The “T” in STEAM, which stands for Technology, has received limited “airtime” in our national and even global discourse of STEAM education compared to Science, Engineering, Mathematics, or the Arts. As blueprints for STEAM programs and initiatives are discussed, funded, and implemented, “technology” is often taken for granted or simply an afterthought. In our connected classrooms, we assume technology will facilitate learning but rarely specify what and how digital tools support inquiry, encourage collaboration, and boost critical thinking among learners. And in our classrooms with limited access to devices and the internet, we omit technology as part of the learning process and prioritize the “hands-on” or performance aspects of STEAM. This muffles the role of technology and hinders our ability to realize its full potential as we seek to advance STEAM learning in our schools and communities.

STEAM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, or the Arts as access points to inquiry, design, or performance that encourages collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and dialogue.

I am not campaigning for “T” to dominate the STEAM discourse, but simply advocating for discussions and planning to articulate the role technology plays in STEAM learning. For example, are we leveraging technology as a tool for learners to increase their disciplinary content knowledge, apply their interdisciplinary understanding or skills to inquiry or design tasks, or share their ideas, prototypes, and findings with others?

Specifying how and why we want learners to engage with technology during STEAM learning experiences embeds intentionality in our learning designs.

The intention of this blog is to exemplify the articulation of technology use in STEAM learning and inspire the design of authentic, blended learning experiences that empower learners to collaborate, create, and communicate like STEAM professionals.

Specifically, I will showcase two STEAM learning examples from the #QuadDIdeaLab featured at Model School Conferences 2018 and 2019 to offer examples of how technology enables instructors and designers to organize and scaffold STEAM learning so learners can 

  • embody collaborative roles that reflect the responsibilities of STEAM professionals
  • engage in practices that resemble those of STEAM professionals
  • simulate communication practices of STEAM professionals.

STEAM Learning Examples

 
Graphing is OzoFun! Science + Art = Activism

STEAM Learning Experience: Graphing is OzoFun!

STEAM Context: NASA research team applies math and science concepts to model how sensors might move in different scenarios on Earth and beyond.

Learning Objective: At the end of this learning experience, you will be able to graph and simulate two or more objects in motion.

Collaborative Roles: Form a research team. Determine roles based on strengths:

  • Data Analyst advises the team on how to organize, interpret, or visualize data and graphs for motion.
  • Equipment Manager advises the team on which physical and digital tools to use to measure or simulate motion.
  • Field Engineer advises the team on the methods (“how to”) for measuring or simulating motion.
  • Information Technology Manager advises the team on the use of digital tools for measuring, visualizing, or simulating motion.

Learning Tasks: Learners select a situation to model sensor motion on Mars using Desmos to graph the motion and Ozobots to simulate motion in their selected situation. 

Presentation of Learning: Both models in graph and video format are submitted to the NASA research team via Desmos and Google Forms.

  • Customized Google Sites and Desmos classroom activity to 
    • visually represent a STEAM professional context as a strategy to increasing learner buy-in for collaborative roles, learning tasks, and presentation of learning: NASA Research
    • organize the STEAM learning experience: learning outcomes and success criteria, collaborative roles, background information, instructions for learning activities, and links to learning resources and technologies (e.g., guidance for programming Ozobots)
  • Designed a custom Desmos classroom activity to 
    • scaffold STEAM learning: activate prior knowledge, embed reference materials, and generate opportunities for formative assessments (e.g., digital matching cards activity about motion graphs)
    • simulate a STEAM professional communication forum: research portal where learners submit findings
  • Utilized Ozobots to engage learners in STEAM professional practices: modeling sensor motion through visual programming, observation, and measurement

STEAM Learning Experience: Science + Art = Activism

STEAM Context: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has partnered with the Smithsonian Magazine to produce a public exhibition of new artworks that advocate for clean water for all. 

Learning Objectives: At the end of this learning experience, you will be able to (1) interpret the theme of an artwork collection and (2) design a prototype of a new media artwork that (a) explains the causes or consequences of unclean water and (b) encourages environmental advocacy: raise awareness, demonstrate resistance (protest), or call to action.

Collaborative Roles: Form an Artist Collective. Assign roles based on expertise or passion. (Note: All directors are contributing artists to the new media artwork.)

  • Art Director leads the Collective in identifying the vision for the artwork; ensures the artistic and technical details help to achieve the vision.
  • Media Director guides the Collective on the selection of physical and digital media; provides technical assistance in the use of media to convey meaning.
  • Communications Director composes the description of the artwork and ensures the artwork and description encourage advocacy: raise awareness, demonstrate resistance (protest), or call to action.
  • Science Director advises the Collective on the causes and consequences of unclean water; shares scientific resources that inform or inspire the artwork.

Learning Tasks: Learners (1) select 2 or more artworks in the Current Artwork Collection and generate a theme for your mini-collection and (2) design a prototype of a new media artwork that extends or counters the identified theme.

 


Presentation of Learning: Post new media artwork to the Science + Art = Activism Gallery Padlet with description including, title, artists, media, and artists’ statement.

  • Customized Google Sites to 
    • visually represent a STEAM professional context as a strategy to increasing learner buy-in for collaborative roles, learning tasks, and presentation of learning: Artist Collective who advocate for social change using science and technology
    • organize the STEAM learning experience: learning outcomes and success criteria, collaborative roles, background information, instructions for learning activities, and links to learning resources and technologies (e.g., online gallery of authentic new media artworks)
    • Utilized Padlet to
      • scaffold STEAM learning: structure discussion and interpretation of artwork, embed examples of professional artworks, and generate opportunities for formative assessments (e.g., reciprocal teaching strategy for discussing and sharing interpretations of professional artworks)
      • simulate a STEAM professional communication forum: public exhibition of artworks and artist statements

Technology Use Digital Tools STEAM Learning Examples
Visually represent a STEAM professional context as a strategy to increasing learner buy-in for collaborative roles, learning tasks, and presentation of learning
  • Google Sites
  • Desmos Classroom Activity
  • Padlet
  • NASA research team models how sensors might move on Earth or beyond
  • Artist Collective uses science and technology to advocate for clean water
Organize the STEAM learning experience: learning outcomes and success criteria, collaborative roles, background information, instructions for learning activities, and links to learning resources and technologies
  • Google Sites
  • Desmos Classroom Activity
  • Guidance for programming Ozobots
  • Online gallery of authentic new media artworks 
Scaffold STEAM learning: activate prior knowledge, structure academic discussion, embed reference materials, and generate opportunities for formative assessments 
  • Desmos Classroom Activity
  • Padlet
  • Activate prior knowledge about motion graphs using digital matching cards activity
  • Digital space to structure interpretation and discussion of an artworks collection
Engage learners in STEAM professional practices that emphasize inquiry, design, problem solving, or collaborative processes
  • Ozobots
  • Modeling sensor motion
Simulate a STEAM professional communication forum where learners discuss ideas or questions and  present or perform products
  • Desmos Classroom Activity
  • Padlet
  • Research portal where learners submit findings
  • Digital space for public exhibition of artworks and artist statements

Closing Notes

This blog offers examples of learning contexts, tasks, and technologies that comprise authentic, blended STEAM learning experiences to 

  • Offer language and criteria for specifying how and why we engage learners with technology during STEAM learning experiences. See Summary of Intentional Technology Use to Advance STEAM Learning for examples.
  • Underscore that technology selections are not isolated from instructional decisions, such as activating prior knowledge or providing opportunity for practice. The technology must facilitate students progress toward the learning objective. For example, the Desmos classroom activity supported students to learn about and practice graphing motion.
  • Broaden notions of STEAM professionals in terms of roles and practices. For example, artists who utilize science and technology to engage in public advocacy.

These ideas are intended to inspire new learning designs in schools, classrooms, and communities. Please share your blended STEAM experiences with us!


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