Two weeks ago we learned about the model or movement Connected Learning for youths to follow their passions by connecting them with people that
can help them achieve their academic, career or civic goals. That model also shows how new media can create and support environments that reach out a broader number of youth and help them follow their passions and engage in society. For this blog post, we were to connect online and create something new of personal interest. I decided to use one of my favorite online sites, instructables.com. l wanted to make my first simple robot controlled by an Arduino microprocessor.
I found a pretty cool and simple set of instructions for a robot controlled by the Arduino Uno board and decided to modify the design by making it a toy car for my baby daughter. After a week of identifying the instructables article, collecting four pink wheels, two small DC motors, an acrylic base, and the Arduino microprocessor I noticed I needed to buy another board called a ‘motor shield’. Without this shield there was no way to use the simple Arduino board to power and control the two motors, so I decided to abandon this idea and look for another project. I found another car design http://www.instructables.com/id/FBRKN-laser-cut-car that I was able to follow along and being able to modify. This article had seven steps with detailed pictures and included the vector file from Adobe Illustrator to be able to export it to a laser cutter.
This Do-It-Yourself (DIY) assignment helped me experience the benefits of connecting with experts through an online community. I started this project with my desire to make a toy car for my daughter using the laser cutter and made out of wood. After signing into instructables.com I used the easy search engine and I was able to find the project from a user called FBRKN. I read the materials needed section and reviewed all of the steps making sure the project would not taking me weeks to complete. Though the instructions were not written with perfect grammar, the instructions were easy to follow because the author included detailed pictures of each step, making a big difference in being able to complete the project. I found that instructables.com is a good example of an online community that bring experts and novices together to create interest-driven projects.
Connected Learning does not just seek to connect youth and their passions to contribute in society, but also to provide multiple entry points to opportunities for learners of non-dominant* populations (i.e. minority, diverse, or of color). I find that instructables.com is an example of this idea of giving “multiple entry points to opportunities” to people that are looking to create something, and though one can pay the upgrade membership fee, the free option is sufficient for anyone to access any project. It is incredible the amount and diversity of projects in that website.
*Term employed in Ito et al (2013) report (link above).