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Dundee’s DJ Jelly does digital literacy!

makey makey workshop stickers

One of the inputs that we deliver to our 3rd year MA(Hons) at the University of Dundee’s School of Education and Social Work is the Makey Makey challenge. It is part of a module that focuses on Learning Beyond Subject Boundaries. The purpose of the input is three-fold:

  • To develop students’ digital literacy skills and understanding – in this case, the use of digital peripherals such as the Makey Makey with the computer;
  • To develop students’ thinking about the place and purpose of the design process in the classroom and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges that this brings;
  • To develop students’ understanding of interdisciplinary learning and how to plan for it in an effective manner.

Which Framework themes are addressed by this input?

The themes from the National Framework for Digital Literacies in Initial Teacher Education being addressed in this input are:

  1. Digital Skills Development
    • Capturing, creating, editing and combining images, text, sound, animation, video, data and code (direct link with Computing Science strand)
  2. Pedagogy in the digital domain
    • Devising and enacting effective teaching & assessment strategies
    • Nurturing effective learning cultures

What is the Makey Makey and how did I become interested in it?

Some time ago I was lucky enough to attend the Mozilla Festival in London and at this I saw a man called Eric Rosenbaum demoing his new invention, the Makey Makey. I was in awe of this device, what it could do and the opportunities for learning that this brought to the table for me. I followed this up some time later when my initial interest and playing about with it was sent in to the stratosphere when I saw Le Frutophone on the Makey Makey gallery. This led me to find out about a piece of software called Soundplant which then further contributed to my developing ideas about its use with my teacher education students.  For some reason I was hugely inspired by the Le Frutophone example so my mind set to work. After some consideration the thought of using a food substance for my workshop led me to the idea of using jelly (as in, with ice-cream). A connection with the Destiny’s Child song, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly began to bear fruit and I ended with a DJ set using a selection of samples of well-known Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé songs that I created and then placed on a Soundplant file. I then connect a number of fruit-flavoured jellies -straight out of the fridge- to Soundplant, via the Makey Makey, and then demo this invention in the tongue-in-cheek guise of my DJ Jelly character!

This is what the set-up of the Makey Makey and Soundplant looks like.

Demonstration of the Makey Makey set up for the design process workshop.

What do I ask the students to do?

In the workshop I give an initial input in which I frame the place and purpose of the design process in CfE. I offer a series of examples of where design is embedded in our lives and I offer some provocations about how design can play a part in how we respond to cultural, scientific and societal problems we may face today or in the future.

I also build on earlier inputs from colleagues on the module that focus on IDL and I show how this activity allows different subject areas to be purposefully linked together.

The presentation for this input is available here.

This workshop is delivered to both our MA and PGDE(P) cohorts. This is what I ask of the students from the different programmes:

PGDE Students

In our workshop you will address these design challenges:

  1. Game Controller: Use the materials provided to create a joypad that will allow to play a computer such as Pacman, Dance Dance Revolution or Space Invaders.
  2. Scratch Piano: Use the materials provided to create a playable keyboard that will allow you play a digital Scratch Piano

MA(Hons) Students

The undergraduate students get more time with me on this module (2 hrs face-to-face, 2 hours tutor directed time) and so they are given this design challenge.

The V & A in Dundee is soon to host a new exhibition and it has issued a call for local people to create installations for its Electricity in Design Exhibition. These installations must allow visitors to interact with them. The conductivity aspect requires an exploration of electricity at the heart of the design but it also acts as the sparking catalyst to engage the visitors with the concept of design and the new museum itself. You have been issued with a Makey Makey to help you create your installation.

MA(Hons) students are also given the chance to respond to the design process in their own way in terms of coming up with the a context that they think would work in the classroom.

Student responses to the design challenge

You can view several of our student groups’ Makey Makey design challenge responses on these YouTube playlists.

MA(Hons) Year Group 2019-20

MA3 2019-20 Makey Makey Design Challenge student responses

MA (Hons) Year Group 2018-19

MA3 2018-19 Makey Makey Design Challenge student responses

Support Materials

The work that we do with our students was picked up by the people from Makey Makey and it was featured on their website.

Makey Makey resources

  1. What is the Makey Makey?
  2. How to use the Makey Makey.
  3. Tutor demonstrates how to use the Makey Makey.
  4. The new Instructables site has lots of Makey Makey examples
  5. Ideas for creativity with Makey Makey via Pinterest

Associated Reading

  1. NESTA Digital Makers
  2. NESTA Young Digital Makers report (2015)
  3. Screen time? What about creativity time? Mitch Resnick
  4. The maker movement in education
  5. What do we mean by digital making? Oliver Quinlan

Please feel free to share any of the work that you are doing with the Makey Makey and the design process on this Twitter hashtag: #scotITEdigi.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.