Agency by Design

Educational initiatives that emphasize making, design, engineering, and tinkering have been gaining traction in schools and organizations across the country. While maker-centered learning is not a new concept, recent and emerging trends suggest a new kind of hands-on pedagogy—a responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, and crossing boundaries.

Agency by Design (AbD) is a multiyear research initiative at Project Zero investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences.

The Framework
Resources
publicationsParticipatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom presents a systems-based approach to examining creativity in education that aims to make participating in invention and innovation accessible to all students. Moving beyond the gifted-versus-ungifted debate present in many of today’s classrooms, the book’s inclusive framework situates creativity as a participatory and socially distributed process. The core principle of the book is that individuals are not creative, ideas are creative, and that there are multiple ways for a variety of individuals to participate in the development of creative ideas. This dynamic reframing of invention and innovation provides strategies for teachers, curriculum designers, policymakers, researchers, and others who seek to develop a more equitable approach towards establishing creative learning experiences in various educational settings.

Field NoteFrom Maker Space to Maker Campus

From Maker Space to Maker Campus

Boston-based architect David Stephen discusses his experiences developing “Maker Campus Master Plans” with various members of Agency by Design’s Oakland Learning Community.

activities and practicesMapping Systems

Mapping Systems

The practice of mapping allows learners to build and demonstrate their understanding of the parts, people, and interactions that comprise a given system.

activities and practicesMaterials Exploration

Materials Exploration

This practice promotes noticing, play, and exploration. When learners have time to tinker with materials they can gain an understanding of the affordances, possibilities, and constraints inherent in a variety of making materials.

activities and practicesCritical Sensitivity to Design Questions

Critical Sensitivity to Design Questions

A set of questions for students and educators that support critical inquiry and awareness when approaching human-designed objects and systems.

videosAgency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds

Agency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds

"Agency by Design: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds" explores the ways in which educators can develop teaching strategies that support student agency through maker-centered learning experiences.

Video by Alex Coppola

Field NoteMaker Empowerment: A Concept Under Construction

Maker Empowerment: A Concept Under Construction

Agency by Designer project Director Shari Tishman introduces the concept of “maker empowerment” as a potential outcome of maker learning experiences.

thinking routinesParts, People, Interactions

Parts, People, Interactions

This thinking routine helps learners slow down and look closely at a system. In doing so, young people are able to situate objects within systems and recognize the various people who participate—directly or indirectly—within a particular system.