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A Path for Success in Learning by Making: Follow, Tinker, Play, Share

Explore and create

Explore and create : Creation lab

Thursday, December 3, 11:15 am–12:45 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Bea Leiderman  
Dr. William Rankin  

Studies, testimonials and even neuroscience point to the benefits of learning by making (constructionism), but teachers and learners sometimes struggle with getting started. This engaging, interactive session will introduce a simple strategy for moving from novice to maker — and participants will use the very same strategy in the workshop.

Audience: Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: n/a. Materials will be supplied in session.
Topic: Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The goal of this session is to help teachers leverage the 3 dimensions of learning (content/community/context),a model which I presented at ISTE 2018 and ISTE 2016 and which I've been developing for about a decade (

This will be augmented with a new structural model: follow/tinker/play/share that leverages a progressive strategy for implementing constructionist and maker learning and gives teachers a productive strategy for incorporating project-based and maker learning in their classes — even if they or their students don't know quite how to get started.

Attendees will work through an initial design scenario and will then modify it to fit their local purposes in the tinker and play phases, and they'll leave both with something they can deploy in their schools and with the experience of having used this model.

Learners will also be familiar with the terms and concepts of communities of practice, constructionism, and project-based learning.


Improvisation activities: attendee participation (8 minutes)
Communities of practice & cubic learning: lecture (12 minutes)
Learning activity 'bake off': follow: attendee participation (10 minutes)
Learning activity 'bake off': tinker: attendee participation (10 minutes)
Learning activity 'bake off': play: attendee participation (20 minutes)
Learning activity 'bake off': share: attendee participation (10 minutes)
Concluding thoughts: lecture (10 minutes)
Q&A: attendee participation (10 minutes)

Supporting research

Charles, Rankin, Speight (2019). Education, Knowledge, and Learning: an overview of research and theory about constructionism and making. London: Pi-top publishing. 2nd ed.

Rankin, Leiderman (2018). A Learning Journey: exploring new paths in teaching and learning. London: The Educational Collaborative for International Schools.

Mehta, Fine (2019). In Search of Deeper Learning: the quest to remake the American high school. Cambridge MA: Harvard UP.

Papert (1980). Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. New York: Basic Books.

Vygotsky (1966). “Play and its role in the mental development of the child.” Voprosy Psikhologii 6.

Kolb (1984). “The process of
experiential learning” In
Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, nJ: Prentice-Hall. www. experiential-learning.pdf

Wenger-Trayner (2006). “Communities of practice: A brief introduction.” media/15868/COPCommunities_of_ practiceDefinedEWenger.pdf

Wenger-Trayner (2004). “Learning for a small planet: A research agenda.” www.learning %20for%20a%20small%20planet.pdf

Doolittle (1997). “Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development as a theoretical foundation for cooperative learning.” Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 8(1): 83–103. www.proactiveteaching. org/pdfs/91.pdf

Weimer (2013). “A summary: Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice.” /Faculty-Teaching-Resource/Program-ReDesign/ Orientation-and-Team-Formation/Book-Summary-Learner-Centered-Teaching-by-Maryellen-Weimer.pdf.aspx

More [+]


Bea Leiderman, Independent Consultant
Dr. William Rankin, Unfold Learning LLC

Dr William Rankin is a learning-experience and learning-frameworks designer and educational theorist who served as worldwide Director of Learning at Apple from 2013 through 2016. An academic with more than 25 years of classroom experience, Rankin helped design the world’s first iOS-based 1:1 learning program for higher education, for which he was named Campus Technology magazine’s 2008 Innovator of the Year for mobile learning. He has worked with schools, governments, and organizations in more than 30 countries to design, develop, and implement innovative learning and is an expert in mobile- and technology-enhanced learning and constructionism.

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