Today’s Educator Spotlight shines on Alex White, the Digital Learning Coordinator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). Alex is a Sydney based artist, producer and curator who is using littleBits in several of his electronic art workshops. Read more about his experiences below:
Tell us about your current teaching experience.
I am the Digital Learning Coordinator for the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). We run a range of creative learning programs for school groups, as well as many other informal learning groups. My role is focused on developing our online learning resources and supporting and developing onsite programs to utilize digital technology (or just anything that uses electricity really!).
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
I’m not sure how I first heard about littleBits, but when I started in this position I knew it was an opportunity to have a look at them to see if they might work in this context. I liked that littleBits seemed to have a commitment to and focus upon art making rather than just learning electronics. The gender neutral focus is also very important to us.
Which product did you use and what made you decide to choose this?
We have a Workshop Set and a few other smaller kits that we used to test out littleBits for our programs. I’m hoping we can purchase another Workshop Set soon! The Workshop Set we bought was from when they were first released and included quite a bit of diversity, as well as providing enough base modules for us to have everyone in a program creating with similar parameters.
How are you using littleBits in your programs or space?
All our onsite programs include a visit to the gallery exhibition spaces where participants take part in creative strategies designed to support them to respond and relate to the works and build upon their own creative processes.
We then head into our workshop spaces, where we usually have traditional classroom construction materials (cardboard, sticky tape, cellophane etc) to combine with littleBits. Students work in groups to build sculptures or installations that relate to some of the works they have seen. For instance, while the Annette Messager exhibition was installed, we had 40 students create fantastical buildings that were combined together to create a colorful illuminated city. Students built pulsing, rotating and shaking lighthouses and tower sculptures combining creative thinking with logic, design skills and team work to create rather than just problem solve.
In workshops that are more than an hour or so long, we get students to consider building elements of interactivity into the constructions. See examples of past workshops on the MCA website.
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
Use mirrors, lights, motors and video cameras to build interactive, generative electronic kaleidoscopes.
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
I think littleBits work really well for small groups so don’t feel like you need a kit per student. If they are working in a group of 4 or 5 then it takes the focus off the electronics and gets them working in a more integrated way.