Rematerialization of the virtual and its challenges for design and technology education
In addition to the virtualization of material and social processes, the 21st century is also characterized by rematerialization of the virtual—using augmented, embedded, and ubiquitous technologies to augment all kinds of material objects with virtual dimensions. Embedded technologies are in a never-ending loop of creating unforeseen exchanges between people, tools and artefacts and constantly co-modifying the environments of action. They can create extrasensory information layers on our perception, and they learn and accommodate to actions of people and other sensing items, who react and change their behaviours accordingly. While the rematerialization of the virtual creates new opportunities for learning from and with the tools and artefacts that augment human actions, it also challenges many existing practices of craft education. To this end, we introduce the reader to key technological trajectories that drive a need for teaching cross-boundary design competences that combine computational thinking with understanding of the social and material nature of human activity. We present an overview of a sociocultural approach for framing adaptive ecosystems that supports the evolving process of learning and making. We give examples of embedded technologies to illustrate the rematerialization of the virtual and suggest a pedagogical framework that bridges craft education and computing education for the development of the skills and mindsets needed for making the futures of digital society.
Keywords: computational thinking, maker pedagogy, learning by design, design & technology education
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