Making Minds (SSHRC)

Making Minds: Digital Maker Education
for Literacies Learning with Marginalized Youth

In our modern society, the definition of literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write, and now includes the computational skills and social processes necessary to responsibly consume and produce digital texts across a range of media. Funded by a grant from the SSHRC Insight program, “Making Minds” seeks to investigate the relationship between maker pedagogies and the development of adolescent digital literacies and identities for students who live in poverty.

As community makerspaces continue to inspire the adoption of maker culture by formal education, it is important to explore what educators need to understand about maker pedagogies, and how they can support student learning. To this end, the research questions for this particular project ask:

  1. How do adolescents’ digital literacy skills develop over time while immersed in a rich media setting that emphasizes digital making rather than digital consumption?
  2. How do maker pedagogies intersect with the development of 21st century competencies, such as multimodal communication, creative and critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and cultural and global citizenship?
  3. How can maker pedagogies be used to enhance literacy teaching and learning, specifically for students who live in poverty?
  4. What are the materialities and modalities afforded to literacy learners through digital design and production?
  5. How do maker pedagogies work to build students’ “performative” competencies in digital literacies, and how might the promote civic engagement and a participatory social justice orientation, particularly among students who live in poverty?

Working alongside teachers in Oshawa, ON, and Ottawa, ON, this longitudinal study will review the impact of implementing digital making into classrooms over the course of four years (starting in grade five). The teaching and learning of literacy in both English and French language contexts will be studied to assist in the development and refinement of teaching methodologies for digital making in formal education.