Design Thinking and Making as Equity Practice
Imagination knows no age, race, color, creed, or income. It just needs opportunities.
At NEXT.cc not only are we focused on STEAM centered design, we value accessibility and the variety of learning styles. In the rapid community report entitled “Principles for Equity-centered design of STEAM learning-through-making” author educators share that “a range of activities that blend design and technology… making can open new possibilities for applied, interdisciplinary learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” When you explore the NEXT.cc website you will see that in the original How to Unpack NEXT.cc blog post we describe the multimedia approach that we lay out to captivate learners of all levels and curiosities.
If we take a look at the extensive library of learning journeys, we see the value of accessibility in action. When learners begin, they create a learning journal - this can be handmade, elaborate, simple, or a lined notebook! The various subjects learners can click on is designed with curiosity and interconnectivity in mind. Whether it is the history of architecture, the labeling of plant parts, documenting an experience, describing sounds, or inspiring a critical look at the food, water, and energy nexus, the use of analog notetaking, individualized curiosity cultivation, and multimedia making or documentation offers options to all types of learners.
At NEXT.cc not only do we value accessibility, but we create and curate curriculums and workshops for schools that may not have options of a STEAM immersive learning experience that honors all learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory, sensory, etc.). As our previous author educators stated, “…everyone, including novices, younger and older people, and people with diverse cultural identities, learning, social, emotional, linguistic and physical needs can easily enter and participate [in learning environments].”
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design states “that everything in STEAM learning environments, including physical makerspaces as well as digital platforms and networks that facilitate digitally distorted STEAM learning, should be designed to meet everyone where they are, regardless of size, age, (dis)ability, language, social status, gender, or identities.” The value of equity to all that involve themselves with the self-directed NEXT.cc curriculum or within the framework of physical workshops that NEXT.cc hosts is the goal. In conversation with students, mentors, and parents, we reach out to connect informal learning with directed K12 instruction with life long learners. We do not just focus on giving facts and principles, but empower students to bring their lived experiences and synthesized knowledge for real life problem solving into changing perceptions, actions, and involvement.
In all of our E-learning journeys there is an element of action or activity to use the whole body and senses available to us to integrate the knowledge being received. In designing with equity in STEAM in mind we understand that “the design of STEAM learning needs to be refracted through the lens of activity. Making practices and activities align closely with contemporary disciplinary practices and dispositions in STEAM disciplines,” we support multi-generative conversation and potential for community leadership within learners that are sharing their learning by uploading it to the NEXT.cc Gallery. This whole person approach to learning takes away from Ken Robinson’s quip on our focus in academia to focus above our bodies and a little more to the left hemisphere while we forget the rest of our body, only allowing floating heads.
We know there is always room for improvement, which is the growth mindset that we instill at NEXT.cc. We are always learning about accessibility, expanding learning journeys, and bringing more connections through our volunteer teachers and teams that build curriculums for learners around the world. We look forward to hearing how your learning journey grows through NEXT.cc.
We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. Franklin D. Roosevelt
The world needs human creativity and innovation now more than ever. DESIGN IS OUR TOOLKIT!!!!
Castek, J., Schira Hagerman, M., and Woodard, R. (Eds). (2019). Principles for Equity-centered design of STEAM learning-through-making. Tucson: University of Arizona.
Robinson, Sir Ken, The ELEMENT: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything.