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Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT Media Lab….home of coding, makerspaces, fab labs and more.

Are you excited about your school moving towards or being a 1-1 school?  Advocate for more coding (programming)  in the classroom, want to see districts leverage technology across subject matters? Want to learn more about Makerspaces, Fab Labs, and how to empower students to be the leaders of their learning?   Would you believe NONE of these movements are new? The MIT Media Lab has been the pioneer in all of these areas. It just might surprise you for how long.

Back in 1979, Nicholas Negropante observed the ever changing world around him and realized that various communication industries that operated in silos, independently, were going to intersect, affect and change the way they do everything.  From publishing to broadcast, to motion pictures and yes education!  His forward thinking  resulted in a a graph that showed what he saw in 1979 and what he predicted in the year 2000.

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From this concept, the MIT Media Lab was born. You know, the folks who gave you the amazing things you use in the classroom and at home everyday such as LOGO, Scratch, and Makey Makey.

When the MIT Media Lab was born, there were 11 groups established within it. Electronic Publishing,  Speech,The Advanced Television Research Program, Movies of the Future, The Visible Language Workshop, Spatial Imaging, Computers and Entertainment, Animation and Computer Graphics, Computer Music, Human Machine Interface, and last but certainly not the least, The School of the Future, led by Dr. Seymour Papert.  Papert was one of the most influential figures in authentic technology integration, basing much of his work from studying with Jean Piaget.

Educators and students have benefited from the MIT Media Lab and Negropantes forward thinking in ways they probably didn’t realize.  Dr. Papert,  I feel was very ahead of his time.  In 1985 he began working with the Hennigan School in Boston, piloting the “one computer-one student” program.  Very successful, this project also pioneered the Lego/LOGO project. And if you are reading this and are using Lego Robotics, or LOGO programming with students, you have Dr. Papert, Dr. Negropante and the MIT Media Lab to thank. They saw the potential for integrating technology in the classroom, benefits of programming (coding as it is called today) and saw how all of this could   naturally integrate across all subject matters. Education just took a few years to catch up.

Today the movement getting so much attention and rightly so are Makerspaces, and STEM. The concepts for these movements and how they are playing out in the educational environment can be traced back to the amazing things the MIT Media Lab does and continue to do.

“The Media Lab” a book by Steward Brand is an outstanding read. Brand was right their at the beginnings of this program. He provides insight into the labs humble beginnings and accomplishments at that time.  Understanding how the lab began combined with their continued success is important to comprehend its ongoing influence with today’s education.

The amazing Dr. Mitch Resnick  is the  LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, Director of the Okawa Center, and Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. The Lifelong Kindergarten group benefits all educators and families K-12   Dr. Resnick constantly talks about the importance of  “Sowing the Seeds for a more Creative Society”.  The Lifelong Kindergarten group reflects the need for creativity in education  in their programs and projects that are developed. (including Scratch, Duct Tape Network, Paper Circuits ,and Computational Tinkering.) Click here to learn more. Dr. Resnick recently published the book  “Lifelong Kindergarten“.   An easy read, Dr. Resnick describes the important need to cultivate creativity in learners.  Resnick intertwines educational history, creative teaching opportunities and practical ideas. This is a great read for any parent or educator.


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