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British Journal of Educational Technology


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Much attention in constructionism has focused on designing tools and activities that support learners in designing fully finished and functional applications and artifacts to be shared with others. But helping students learn to debug their applications often takes on a surprisingly more instructionist stance by giving them checklists, teaching them strategies or providing them with test programs. The idea of designing bugs for learning—or debugging by design—makes learners agents of their own learning and, more importantly, of making and solving mistakes. In this paper, we report on our implementation of “Debugging by Design” activities in a high school classroom over a period of eight hours as part of an electronic textiles unit. Students were tasked to craft electronic textile artifacts with problems or bugs for their peers to solve. Drawing on observations and interviews, we answer the following research questions: (1) How did students participate in making bugs for others? (2) What did students gain from designing and solving bugs for others? In the discussion, we address opportunities and challenges that designing personally and socially meaningful failure artifacts provides for becoming objects-to-think-with and objects-to-share-with in student learning and promoting new directions in constructionism.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fields, D. A., Kafai, Y. B., Morales-Navarro, L., & Walker, J. T. (in press). Debugging by Design: A Constructionist Approach to High School Students’ Crafting and Coding of Electronic Textiles as Failure Artifacts. British Journal of Educational Technology, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.



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