The setup for this class has been a new experience for us. It has been a rollercoaster of learning – we began with doubts of our abilities but have come to the realization that if we put our mind to it we succeed. After being seminar presenters, our interests were sparked in the topics we presented on. We were discussing the readings outside of class one day and realized that collaborating upon our two seminar pieces, Mindstorms and Time Frames, could make for a great final project. While discussing, we felt that the way in which McCloud’s message of time was expressed through comics helped us to comprehend the information on a more complex level than we had in previous pieces. Mindstorms was a piece that we found interesting and relatable to our lives. By explaining this reading through comics, we thought that we would achieve a higher understanding like we experienced in Time Frames.
We chose to explain a nugget in Mindstorms (pg. 416) that dealt with using programming to help children “think about thinking” and do away with “black and white” versions of success. In order to connect Papert and McCloud’s ideas, we decided to use the framework from McCloud but tweak his illustrations to portray Papert’s message of programming. Once recognizing how they could relate, we went through the nugget, analyzed each sentence and tried to pull out the full meaning that Papert was communicating. After discussing the nugget on a deeper level and considering both our views on the reading, we went through McCloud’s comic to find frames that could illustrate that message.
When we were reading McCloud’s comic, we began to see the hidden messages which made us realize that the meaning behind the frames isn’t always apparent. Although you can get a basic message the first time you read through the comic, you can gather more in-depth information if you re-read it. We wanted to incorporate this aspect into our comic so that our readers could have the option to question the ideas. We gathered that McCloud’s Time Frames is about how one thinks about time and how this affects time overall. After reading Papert’s Mindstorms, we saw parallels between the two author’s messages. We felt that Papert’s message was portraying that learning depends on how one thinks about thinking. Both these authors show how powerful the human mind is and how it can affect your perspective on life. In general, this class has made us realize that you should keep an open mind in learning and continue to be curious.
We followed our curiosity and, as writing our comic, we found that other pieces we read this semester related to the nugget from Mindstorms. We looked back on nuggets we highlighted throughout the semester and found some interesting connections to Mindstorms. Theodor H. Nelson was the first connection we made. In a nugget we found from Computer Lib/Dream Machines, he spoke of how computers are not only a tool of clarity and power, but should also be simple and easy to use. He writes, “If a system for thinking doesn’t make thinking simpler – allowing you to see farther and more deeply – it is useless…” (pg. 331). We included this in our comic because we felt like it related to Papert’s idea of how programming could help children learn. Programming and computers are powerful because they teach children complex ideas, but they can do it in a simple way.
We also found connections between Mindstorms and Bill Viola’s piece Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?. We found the sections about “carving out our own realities” and how “the whole is the sum of its parts” relatable to Papert’s nugget. Both portray that discoveries can be found when you look deeper into the material. You find that many things are interrelated, “fitting into an interlocking whole.” We illustrated learning as a puzzle in our comic, because everything we learn can be interrelated and every step is important. Papert distinguished this message of learning through his programming techniques for children.
After completing this project our own knowledge of these readings increased dramatically. We feel that the idea of “thinking about thinking” can increase anyone’s understanding on a certain topic. We think this idea could be great resource for education. We loved doing this comic because it forced us to learn and think about the information in a new, visual way. The format of comics does not explicitly layout information, which causes the reader to think about the subject matter in order to really understand it. This can link back to McLuhan’s idea “the medium is the message.” We used the words of Papert and expressed them in a new way. Changing the medium that the information is given in can drastically change the way it is perceived by the learner. Learning all depends on the way you think about it…
Since everyone thinks about thinking differently, our individual thoughts are written below.
As I began this project with Lissy, I really had no idea what we were getting into. Since I had done my seminar presentation on Scott McCloud’s Time Frames, I wanted to incorporate his visual way of sharing the message into my final project. I loved his way of expressing time in a comical/spooky/intriguing way. When Lissy presented on “Mindstorms” it clicked that the reading would be perfect to incorporate into our final presentation.
When we started the project we were not sure exactly where it would take us. As we discussed it further and further, analyzing Papert’s “Mindstorms,” I realized that even if our comic didn’t turn out the way we had envisioned it, it didn’t even matter. Lissy and I talked about the readings and the class on a deeper level than we ever had. By backtracking, re-reading, and asking each other, “what does it all mean?,” we learned an immense amount. We thought about our thought process. We thought about what Papert was thinking, what McCloud was thinking, etc. These realizations made me begin to consider how this type of project could be used in education to stimulate children’s creativity while getting them to understand material on a more comprehensive level.
Now as presentation day quickly approaches, I am nervous whether you all will see our connections to other authors and understand “Mindstorms” in a more complex way. I really feel like creating a visual component has helped me learn so maybe it can help you all learn too. Thinking of ways to be creative and incorporate ideas into the comic proved difficult, but we did it! I hope you all enjoy our in-depth look at Papert’s “Mindstorms” tomorrow!