Digital Atelier Connected Learning Project and Research Results Released

Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.® today announced its involvement in the Digital Atelier research project by which Chicago-based high school learners are given access to an effective connected learning space. Details about the project and the research results can be found on the newly updated LearningCommons. The Digital Atelier Research project is being shared in the Bretford Booth (#1306) during ISTE 2016, June 27-29 in Denver, Colorado.

The Digital Atelier (DA) is an in-school, student-centered makerspace that provides a safe, creative environment for students to learn and explore digital media under the guidance of artists and other professionals.

Bretford partnered with Convergence Academies operating from Center for Digital Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago and Archeworks to provide furniture for Digital Ateliers in two high need, traditionally low-performing Chicago Public Schools: Tilden Career Community Academy High School and Donald L. Morrill Math & Science Elementary School. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Convergence conducted ethnographic observations with a University of Illinois at Chicago School of Education research team, collecting evidence of the DA’s impact on student learning, youth identity development, school culture, and teacher innovative practice.

Key research findings include:

· “Connected learning” in which students are free to explore topics that interest them in an informal setting, is important to students’ academic and personal growth – and schools can play a vital roles in fostering this type of learning.

· The design of learning spaces is critical to students’ success. When students have access to flexible, comfortable learning spaces and are given a choice in their learning tools, they are inspired to create and explore.

· Mentors trained in a connected mentorship model play a significant role in building the capacity of students and teachers to use digital media in support of learning.

· The Digital Atelier motivates reluctant learners to attend school, resulting in improved attendance and GPA.

· Participation in the Digital Atelier increases students’ communications skills through a variety of technologies and media.

· Students who frequently visit the DA receive over 100 hours of additional information learning time while they are at school each year.