Introduction: Intro: a Night of Learning Exchanges
This is a creative learning workshop inspired by and adapted from class week 4 "Peers" activity of MIT MediaLab's Learning Creative Learning (LCL) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
More information here: http://discuss-learn.media.mit.edu/
You can use this project's Random Idea Generator on scratch.mit.edu.
Feel free to print out this PDF, remix any content here or at our Random Idea Generator, and run with this idea as you like. Feedback appreciated!
Some of our goals for this creative learning workshop when we tried it included: to relax socially and play with creative energy, explore peer learning and interest-based learning, and meet new friends. The idea is not so much to come up with new workshop, project, and event ideas for the sake of quantity, or to encourage meaningless projects. Instead, I hoped this would help us to cultivate an environment unafraid of risk of "failure" with experimentation, to enjoy and celebrate exploration, and to give more opportunity for peers to explore ways they might find project goals together over common ground involving individual interests. Some ideas and efforts from a workshop like this might result in ideas that are too silly, too unreasonable to actually conduct in full scope, or not something the group actually wants to pursue. Some ideas may actually turn into real projects. If so, that's great. If the only benefit is playful exploration, new friends, or participants becoming more comfortable and confident in a creative learning environment, it's a success. Please leave any feedback including about any remixes, concerns, or suggestions.
Feel free to adapt this workshop however you like for your group's needs.
Step 1: Warm-Up I: Deconstructed
A. Each teammate should secretly and quietly come up with an idea for a new project, workshop, demo, or other event at a creative learning space like a Makerspace or Hackerspace. It can be something they would like to see, it can be something they would like to help with, it can be silly or serious, it can involve a solution to a real or fictitious problem, or anything imagined. Resources may or may not be available and it can be completely unfeasible if that's just what happens. We are just looking for ideas here.
B. Still keeping their idea secret, each teammate should now write down a basic and vague deconstructed list of words that might help frame out important considerations about their idea such as parts, materials, tools, techniques, history, processes, or anything communicated in one word or a basic phrase.
Step 2: Wrap-Up II: Reconstructed
Now each teammate simply takes their partner's deconstructed list and they should try to secretly and quietly reconstruct the idea. They may arrive at the same idea or a new idea, it doesn't matter. This is not a contest, and should be relaxed and casual.
Step 3: Wrap-Up III: New Ideas
Each member should assume or pretend the reconstructed idea they came up with is the exact idea their teammate originally had. Teammates briefly and quickly take turns offering as many quick and vague suggestions, enhancements, word associations, and other comments and feedback about the reconstructed idea. These should be basic and vague statements that do not spell out any specific ideas. When receiving commentary and new ideas, a teammate should quickly move past confusing items but think about ways such commentary could be applied to their original idea.
This may involve teammates talking about entirely different ideas at the same time and could lead to varying results. Results may include silliness, unique solutions, and dangerous new ways of thinking creatively.
Step 4: Warm-Up IV: Wrap-Up
Try finishing the wrap-up by letting each teammate share the ideas they have been hiding from each other and then invite teams to go around the room talking about their original ideas, their lists, the ideas their teammates reconstructed, and any reflections.
Step 5: Main Event I: Decide
Teams take a little more time to get to know one another and figure out what they would like to learn from each other. A goal is for each teammate to decide on one topic they will be teaching. Expertise is not required, but openness, truthfulness, and respect are encouraged.
Step 6: Main Event II: Announce
Give each team a very brief time to share what they will be teaching and learning with each other as peers.
Step 7: Main Event III: Teach
After deciding which teammate goes first, a brief amount of time is used for that person to teach the other person. Time is called, and teammates switch. It can be engaging, useful and fun to offer reflection time where teams can share what they learned and the exercise in general.
Step 8: Bonus Event: Pick
Teams use a random method such as our CC-BY Random Idea Generator at scratch.mit.edu or drawing topics out of a hat to select one topic apiece that they will use in the second part of this bonus event.
Step 9: Bonus Event: Brainstorm
Now ask the teams to take a brief amount of time to collaborate and come up with a new idea for a project, workshop, or other creative learning space event based on their two topics.
Step 10: Use the Random Idea Generator at Scratch
Draw topics out of hats, use the random idea generator at Scratch, or come up with your own way to randomly distribute topics to teams.
I invited participants to engage in reflection, discussion, and sharing their experiences. Everyone was also encouraged to seek each other out and follow-up on any shared interests.
Feel free to remix any content/ideas.
As a final thought on this from me to you and yours, consider this..
If we can have fun, learn something, and come up with awesome new ideas over random topics that are thrown at us..
And if we can think in new directions and expand our own dreams even when we are talking about entirely different things..
Imagine what we can do when we band together over common ground and shared passions, after taking time to learn one another's perspective.