Making Digital Come to Life

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Disney’s new cartoon Tron: Uprising. 

My brother got me hooked on it.  It’s visually stunning and the story arc is amazing.  Another example of how great TV is becoming both for adults and children.

Perhaps the coolest element of the show is how everything is made.  Since the show takes place in a digital world, everything is made up of some kind of code.  Vehicles, buildings, even people (referred to as programs) are made up of digital code.  Each code can be modified and contained in a variety of different ways.  The world that each program lives in can be physically manipulated and transformed.  Those with the most power are those that understand how to transform the world around them.

Last week at the annual ECOO conference, I attended an amazing session by David Hann and Ray Mercer.  The two talked about how they were using 3D printers in their schools.  They really emphasized how empowering it was for the students to transform digital files and ideas into physical objects using a 3D printer.  Their session focused on the power that building has for the learning that happens with their students.  In their classes, students get to test different iterations of conceptual learning and make those tests come to life in the physical world.

Holy Tron.

It made me think about the goals in my annual learning plan for this year.

I love learning that happens in the digital world, but it can be detached from reality.  When we learn in physical spaces, the learning is a little more real than the learning that happens digital spaces.  For example, math with manipulatives is more real than theoretical math (digital or paper and pencil math), and face to face conversations are more real than digital conversations. Both types of learning are important; however, whenever there is a chance to move the theoretical towards the tangible, we should seize that opportunity. 


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