Project

Dreaming through Code

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Dreaming through Code 

Designing creative learning workshops for local organizations committed to introducing technology to kids in a non-intimidating way

“Dreaming through Code” is a workshop series designed for introducing computer science in an accessible and meaningful manner. The project is designed to be an introduction to technology and coding that uplifts and amplifies how deep, transformative learning happens in all places and not only in schools. Designed to allow for multiple touchpoints of exposure and engagement with computer science, we organized a series of workshops focused on the idea of dreaming to allow young people to learn through creating and connecting. The workshops utilize three different computational tools for making: Scratch, a programming language and online community; OctoPlay, a new mobile application that allows young people to create and send animations, messages, and stories; and Makey Makey, a programmable controller that allows young people to transform everyday objects into computing interfaces. With dreaming at the center, workshop themes revolve around topics like community, ro… View full description

Dreaming through Code 

Designing creative learning workshops for local organizations committed to introducing technology to kids in a non-intimidating way

“Dreaming through Code” is a workshop series designed for introducing computer science in an accessible and meaningful manner. The project is designed to be an introduction to technology and coding that uplifts and amplifies how deep, transformative learning happens in all places and not only in schools. Designed to allow for multiple touchpoints of exposure and engagement with computer science, we organized a series of workshops focused on the idea of dreaming to allow young people to learn through creating and connecting. The workshops utilize three different computational tools for making: Scratch, a programming language and online community; OctoPlay, a new mobile application that allows young people to create and send animations, messages, and stories; and Makey Makey, a programmable controller that allows young people to transform everyday objects into computing interfaces. With dreaming at the center, workshop themes revolve around topics like community, role models, superheroes, music-making, and future aspirations. 

The workshop series was run over the course of ~1-2 months in collaboration with two organizations focused on serving their local communities:

  • blackyard, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and, 
  • Freedom Skatepark Jamaica, located in Bull Bay, St. Andrew, Jamaica.
The project is designed to be an introduction to technology and coding that uplifts and amplifies how deep, transformative learning happens in all places and not only in schools.

blackyard

blackyard is a local Cambridge grassroots organization centering Black, Indigenous, and POC youth that offers after school (formerly homeschool) programming with a mission that “seeks to cultivate a learning community, rooted in personal transformation and transforming power, to honor the brilliance and power of all Black young people.” The workshops were facilitated at blackyard’s afterschool site and at the MIT Media Lab. Participants were elementary-aged students. The final session with blackyard included parents and families collaborating in a making activity and viewing a showcase of the projects that the young people made over the course of the workshop series. 

Freedom Skatepark Jamaica

Freedom Skatepark is Jamaica's largest public skatepark that is free and accessible to the whole community of Kingston and St. Andrew, and the wider country. It was built under the direction of the Concrete Jungle Foundation (CJF) and is run 100% by local community members, volunteers, and members of Jamaica’s professional skateboarding and professional surfing scene. CJF sees and utilizes skateboarding as a means to advocate for personal development and community development. The skatepark also serves as a local youth center that has implemented CJF’s Edu-Skate Programme, a positive youth development program that utilizes skateboarding, group discussion, and community activities to empower and provide positive education to underserved children aged 6-16. The workshops were offered on-site at Freedom Skatepark’s facilities in Jamaica and were organized and taught in collaboration with Rica G., Freedom’s computer science program facilitator, educator, and local youth advocate. 

Workshop Design 

Each workshop in the series is designed into a dream, describe, create, celebrate format, a remix of the creative learning spiral (imagine, create, play, share, reflect), walking students through small group discussions and then making around that topic. For example:

The first workshop, “Community Dreaming”, was intended to the young people to (1) discuss what community means to them and their hope about the future of the communities they belong to, (2) imagine what the future of their community might look like and draw a representation of that, and (3) engage with creative learning through making Scratch projects. 

Another workshop “Identity and Role Models”, was designed to allow young people to reflect on (1) who are the role models they look up to, including people within their family, community or those they consider to be superheroes, (2) who or what they want to be like in the future and (3) engage with creative learning through making Octoplay projects. 

The layout of the workshops was designed to work within the space, resource, and experience considerations specific to each community organization. Much of the workshop design was informed by the direct observations and direct input of the leaders of each organization and their students. The program theme around dreaming emerged from one of the community values already being uplifted at blackyard. 

This co-design process also led to some workshops being specifically tailored for each organization and the specific interests of their kids. For example, with Freedom Skatepark, one workshop focused on their young people’s passion for music making. Combining our dream, describe, create, celebrate format with a music-based curriculum  “One Mic to One Mouse” designed by Rica G., this workshop allowed the young people to learn about and explore (1) rhythm, (2) poetry, language, and lyricism, and (3) audio production by making their own “MIDI” sampler devices from playdough and found objects with Makey Makeys. The workshop was also facilitated by local musician and artist Romario “Runkus” Bennett.

blackyard Workshops Series Schedule

  1. Community Dreaming – May 2, 2022
  2. Superheroes and Role Models – May 25, 2022
  3. Imagine a Future – June 1, 2022
  4. My Time Capsule (Showcase & Family Workshop) – June 11, 2022

Freedom Skatepark Workshop Series Schedule

  1. Community Dreaming  – May 14, 2022
  2. Music Making: One Mic to One Mouse –  May 21, 2022
  3. Identity and Role Models – May 28, 2022
  4. Showcase – June 4, 2022

We would like to thank all of our collaborators and volunteers for their time and contributions to the organization and facilitation of this Dreaming through Code workshop series 

  • Ashley Herring
  • Colin “Topper” Carew
  • Rica G.
  • Jaleesa Trapp
  • Max Addae
  • Natalie Rusk
  • Romario “Runkus” Bennett
  • Rupal Jain
  • Thaís Xisto
  • The Learning Creative Learning teaching team and our classmates

This project was the outcome of the final project for Lifelong Kindergarten’s Spring 2022 Learning Creative Learning (MAS.712) class at the MIT Media Lab.

Image Gallery of Dreaming through Code Workshop Series with blackyard

Images Gallery from Dreaming through Code Workshop Series with Freedom Skatepark Jamaica