Mitchel Resnick’s work is proof that the pioneering ideas of HCLE Pioneers like Seymour Papert continue, benefit from advocates and champions, and can form the foundation from which other pioneering ideas are launched.
Mitchel Resnick is currently the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT’s Media Lab. From there, and throughout his career, he has embarked upon several projects directed at fundamentally changing education: Lifelong Kindergarten, Computer Clubhouse, SCRATCH Programming Software, and Lego Mindstorms).
As the title of Code-to-Learn suggests, Mitchel Resnick has long advocated for the use of technology in education, where technology is used to aid education, regardless of whether that education is about technology. Kindergarten students exhibit the kind of exploration and self-direction that he feels can be used throughout life, but that is frequently replaced with lectures and structures that are passive rather than active – hence, Lifelong Kindergarten. People of every age can benefit from regaining that sense of playful learning.
Computer Clubhouse is actually reminiscent of the origins of our (HCLE’s) parent organization, LO*OP Center (oral history available as a video), where young people can meet and use computers outside of school, possibly even with the help of more experienced people. Whether because of a lack of access, a desire to be with others with similar interests, or both, public places can further unstructured and freer learning. According to their web site, there are now over 100 Clubhouses spread across 19 countries.
SCRATCH is a block-based programming language designed to help students create their own multi-media projects. As Mitch said in one of his videos, “If Seymour Papert was to redesign LOGO in the 21st Century, what would it look like?” One aspect that is current and new is the ability and interest in sharing the results online. A mix of icon and text-based programming blocks introduce people as young as 5 years old to logic and critical thinking while playing.
As for LEGO Mindstorms, his efforts helped make LEGOs turn into more than toys. LEGO Mindstorms for Schools provided students with the opportunity to make and program custom robots, teaching them a skill that some would traditionally only encounter at a college level. By making it simple, approachable, and associated with a toy, learning becomes available earlier and is more fun.
Each of these ideas are examples of the need to continue pursuing, developing, and inventing new learning techniques and tools.
Mitchel Resnick continues his work, so consider this a snapshot. There will probably more to tell as the work continues.