pi-top blog

Collaborative Learning by Making and Playing

By Andrea Buforn on Jan 23, 2018 4:00:44 AM

Topics: Events FETC Bett Collaborative Learning Education For educators

Here at pi-top we passionately believe that students learn better by making fun things together.

This is why we have made it our mission to give teachers and kids everything they need to embrace STEAM learning collectively and to really bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life.

What we are not about is using technology for technology’s sake in the classroom. Education technology needs to be driven by creativity, collaboration and making things. And not about adapting consumer tech gadgets and tech toys to the curriculum.

Introducing Creative Collaborative Learning in Schools


Collaborative learning is best demonstrated when we allow students to work on projects they strongly want to solve together. Sounds pretty straightforward, no?

For pi-top, the real value of blending project-based learning with Computer Science and STEAM education in schools is clear. Both kids and teachers love building things together. And the notion that children can say that they’ve built their own laptop computer, robot, music-making machine or countless other cool things is what makes pi-top so special.

There are some deep-rooted systemic challenges for schools and teachers who see the real value in pi-top’s unique flavour of collaborative, project-based physical computing. Not least the fact that we work within an education system rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design.

That said, many forward-thinking educationalists are convinced that our education system needs to be based much more on collaboration, making and constructionism. And much less on direct instruction and rote learning.

As Mitchel Resnick, the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab passionately argues: “The most important thing for us to do is to help children learn to think creatively, adapt to change and come up with innovative approaches to new and changing situations.

“Too often in today’s schools I think we end up valuing the things that we can assess. Instead I think we have to figure out ways of assessing the things that we value.”

The Root of Creative is Create


If we need our children to be creative, critical and socially skilled, then why are they being taught to behave like machines? Schools need to move from the traditional model of education and really embrace creative, hands-on, collaborative student-centred learning.

This is far more than an issue of differing perspectives on educational theory. Designing collaborative learning experiences to encourage learners to make things together and helping them to solve interesting real-world challenges is going to be the key to giving children the skills they need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

As pi-top’s chief education adviser, Graham Brown-Martin, notes: “We are on the precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence. Automation. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

“The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. And governments, educators and parents alike must ask the question about how they can prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.”

At pi-top we are obsessive about creating the best physical computing platform to encourage collaborative learning by making and playing. Constructionism and experiential learning, technology that liberates and inspires, personalised learning that’s focused on the child rather than the instruction.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?


All of these things are the reason why we get out of bed in the morning. pi-top is about designing inspiring education technology, working closely with some of the world’s most skilled educators to further collaborative learning in every way we can.

Most of all we are energised and inspired on a daily basis by the many start-ups, teachers and groups of students that we work with. These are the people who are liberating learners and teachers alike to work together to solve problems and create new knowledge.

The bottom line is this: if new technology and STEAM education in schools is not encouraging kids to work together, and promoting hands-on learning through play and project-based learning then it is doing something wrong.

We are providing kids an exciting, engaging and playful entrance into the worlds of hands-on computer science, coding, engineering, design, robotics, 3D printing, business management and so much more. Our technology encourages less solitary screen time and more collaborative ‘creativity time’.

pi-top is about inspiring kids to reach their full potential. After all, isn’t that the point of education?

Want to find out more? Visit booth #2453 at FETC or head over to meet our team at Bett on our stands F480 and G480. We're also hosting three Bett talks:
- 24th of January at 10:30 (Schools Theatre). Teacher's voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
- 25th of January at 12:45 (Schools Theatre). Learner's voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
- 26th of January at 14:30 (Bett Arena). pi-top's CEO, Jesse Lozano, keynote - Make project based STEAM learning a reality in your school.

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