Functional Aesthetics for Learning: Creative Tensions in Youth E-Textiles Designs
The Future of Learning: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Volume 1, Full Papers
J. Aalst, K. Thompson, M.J. Jacobson, & P. Reimann
Most research in programming and engineering focuses on students’ understanding of functionality as a way to gage their learning, leaving aside aesthetic dimensions. In our work with the LilyPad Arduino, an e-textile construction kit with controller, sensors and actuators that can be embedded via conductive thread and programmed in fabric and garments, we examine how functional aesthetics can play a productive or sometimes unproductive role in learning. Drawing from observations and interviews with 35 high school youth that created e-textile artifacts, we identified three different approaches ranging from giving up on desired designs to making something functional or not finishing or getting a design to work because of unwillingness to give up on aesthetics. We see the third approach, finding a new design that both meets aesthetic desires and matches affordances of the technologies, as particularly promising approach and discuss how aesthetic dimensions can provide important connections in learning.
Fields, D. A. Kafai, Y. B. & Searle, K.A. (2012). Functional aesthetics for learning: Creative tensions in youth e-textiles designs. In van Aalst, J., Thompson, K., Jacobson, M.J., & Reimann, P. (Eds.), The Future of Learning: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012), Volume 1, Full Papers. International Society of the Learning Sciences: Sydney, NSW, Australia, 196-203.