Collaborative Research: Mixing Learning Experiences for Computer Programming Across Museums, Classrooms, and the Home Using Computational Music

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Innovations in Development proposal seeks to investigate how we can foster engagement in computing in informal learning environments that can transfer to at home / in school engagement (and vice versa). Overview Introducing K-12 learners to computing concepts is especially important given how, in disciplines ranging from science to the humanities to the arts, computational thinking has become central to how we create, communicate, experiment, evaluate, iterate, and innovate [1], [2]. However, as a nation we have yet to make major strides in developing computing literacy as a core 21st century STEM skill for tackling multidisciplinary problems [16]. The proposed work involves a four year process of working with a multidisciplinary team of digital media, learning sciences, and music technology researchers working in tandem with organizers from multiple STEM-focused museums to iteratively design and develop a tangible programming environment based on the widely used EarSketch learning environment, which connects programming concepts to the manipulation of musical samples, beats and effects. The resulting work, called TuneTable, will be used to a) engage museum learners in collaborative, playful programming experiences that create music; b) direct museum learners to further learning computational music experiences online with the EarSketch learning environment; c) draw EarSketch learners from local area high schools to visit the museum and interact with novice TuneTable users, either as mentors in museum workshops or museum guests; and d) inform the development of a smaller scale, affordable tangible-based experience that could be used at homes or in smaller educational settings, such as classrooms and community centers. Intellectual Merit The proposed work seeks to test the hypothesis that a tangible computational music remixing environment and accompanying online environment can create social learning experiences about computing both within and out of the museum. Following from this hypothesis, the proposed work seeks to address the following research questions: RQ1: How can a music remixing environment focused on collaborative, playful, approachable interactions encourage the voluntary participation in computer programming in an informal environment? RQ2: What affordances in a tangible music remixing environment encourage the collaborative use of computational concepts? RQ3: How can a tangible music remixing environment encourage learner creativity in the use of programming and musical concepts? RQ4: How can museum learning experiences be extended to other contexts (home / school / out-of-school programs) through the use of an online learning environment? RQ5: How can answers to the above research questions inform the design and development of informal learning experiences for broader audiences and environments, such as community centers or collaborative learning at home? We expect the findings in conjunction with these RQs to make broader contributions, more generally to STEM & arts interventions, informal learning in STEM, and tangible approaches to computing. Broader Impact The results of this work will inform the CS education and greater learning informal communities about the potential beneficial relationship between formal and informal learning environments The proposed final work will involve three tabletops installed across the country in STEM museum spaces, providing access to the learning experience to thousands of learners on a daily basis and pointing them to further learning experiences onli
Effective start/end date9/15/168/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (DRL-1612619)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.