Digital literacy: learning about creative technologies

Technology will save us website

Technology Will Save Us website

Learning about digital technologies, and how to use them creatively can be a bit of challenge mined with misconceptions. The ideas that it is too hard, too “techy”, not useful for your practice, or simply that it takes too much time to fully explore, are widely spread. Whilst we use tech everyday, we don’t necessarily know very much about them or how to experiment creatively. What are the resources that can help us to learn new skills, understand the technologies surrounding us, and feed our creativity with a bit of digital know-how?

Following her exploration of inspirational websites, and supporting the Creative Technology Day event being held at CSM, Sarah Kante looks at the digital resources helping us to explore creative technologies. The list of sites that follows covers coding, app building, making as well as learning software or educating children about technologies. Descriptions are in the websites’ own words.

creative bloq

GENERAL

Learning about digital technologies encompasses many different things. From Creative Bloq’s software tutorials, general e-learning websites such as School of Everything with good coverage of creative technologies, to Decoded and its Digital Enlightenment mission, the websites below are good places to start to find out what is out there, and how little we seem to know about the technologies we are becoming increasingly dependent on.

Creative Bloq 
www.creativebloq.com/tag/tutorial

Creative Bloq delivers a daily balance of creative tips and inspiration across web design, graphic design, 3D and more. Bringing the very best design work to our audience and offering the insight that enables them to keep up to date with the latest trends and developments in global design and to create their best work.

Tutorials sponsored by Intel and HP.

bbc

BBC Learning

This is the learning section of the BBC with useful information and links to external websites.

school of everythg

School of Everything 

The School of Everything – the website that helps you learn whatever, whenever and wherever you want. From Biology to Beekeeping, History to Hula hooping, we’ve got it all (well most of it). And you don’t need to go to the end of the earth to learn what you want – we help you find teachers and lessons near you. That means you can make your brain bigger on your own doorstep.

In the 1960s a group of people set up the Free U in sunny California – it started with blank piece of paper pinned to a notice board asking what people could teach and once subjects were listed and there were enough people signed up to each they ran the courses. Makes sense really doesn’t it? We just decided to turn that into a 21st century new fangled website thingy so you can design your own education however you please.

cs4fn

Computer Science for Fun 

cs4fn was created and is written and edited by Paul Curzon, Peter McOwan and Jonathan Black of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science of Queen Mary, University of London with the aim of sharing our passion about all things to do with Computer Science.

In addition to Peter, Paul and Jonathan and other staff at Queen Mary, University of London, members of several other Universities have supported cs4fn by writing occasional articles or contributing images from their research, including the University of Bristol, the University of Swansea and the University of Aberdeen.

Queen Mary is a partner in Creative Technology Day, Thursday 2 October at CSM.

decoded

Decoded 

At Decoded, we believe that Digital Enlightenment is attainable for everyone and anyone.

Digital Enlightenment transforms individuals and organisations, empowering people and giving them a fundamental understanding of the technologies behind the screen.

In business, this freedom empowers individuals, and cultivates an environment rich with constructive & creative discussions about technology which in turn leads to increased efficiency across the whole business.

Digital Enlightenment is a strategy that, when adopted, can transform a whole company.

On a personal level, this freedom empowers individuals to question technology, disrupt it and dismantle it. It equips us and our children with the tools we need to interrogate and exploit the technological advancements that are being made every day, turning us from consumers to creators.

e-skills

E-skills UK 

e-skills UK is making sure Britain is getting the technology skills it needs to succeed. As the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology, we work on behalf of employers to develop the software, internet, computer gaming, IT services and business change expertise necessary to thrive in today’s global digital economy.

Our work now incorporates that of the National Skills Academy for IT. This employer-led partnership promotes excellence in IT learning and development by approving high quality, relevant training providers.

mozilla

Mozilla Webmaker 

We’re a global community dedicated to teaching digital skills and web literacy. We explore, tinker and create together to build a web that’s open and made by everyone.

Our toolsevents and teaching guides allow webmakers to not only create the content that makes the web great, but — perhaps more importantly — understand how the web works. With this knowledge, we can make a web without limits. That’s the philosophy behind webmaker.org. We’ve built everything so you can see how it works, take it apart and remix it.

Our goal: encourage millions of people around the world to move beyond using the web to making it.

Creating the web is the heart of our work. We build tools like ThimbleX-Ray Goggles and Popcorn Maker that allow people to create amazing content while peeking under the hood of the internet, getting familiar with all the moving parts and getting their hands dirty with foundational elements like HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

techwillsave

Technology Will Save Us 

We are on a mission to help anyone become a maker of technology. We think this happens not with one kind of skill but with multiple skills related to technology and design. We believe the foundations of a maker are rooted in an ability to be resourceful, finding real needs to solve and having some basic technological knowledge. All of our kits are focused on helping people to become makers.

Soldering, electronics, programming and design – these are the skills we think are at the heart of being able to make and create with technology. We use real components and electronics in all of our kits as we want to invite people to go under the hood of their devices and understand them better or even create new ones!

lynda

Lynda 

To help you learn the skills you need to achieve your full potential.

lynda.com is a leading online learning company that helps anyone learn software, technology, creative, and business skills to achieve personal and professional goals. The lynda.com video library consists of engaging, top quality courses taught by recognized industry experts and are accessed by members through individual, corporate, academic, and government subscriptions.

 

codecademy

CODE

Whilst coding can be learnt from the sites mentioned above, this section covers resources which mission is specifically to help you master everything from HTML-5, CSS, PHP or JavaScript.

Codeacademy 

Codecademy is an education company. But not one in the way you might think. We’re committed to building the best learning experience inside and out, making Codecademy the best place for our team to learn, teach, and create the online learning experience of the future.

We are rethinking education from the bottom up. The web has rethought nearly everything – commerce, social networking, healthcare, and more. We are building the education the world needs – the first truly net native education. We take more cues from Facebook and Zynga in creating an engaging educational experience than we do from the classroom.

w3

W3 Schools 

W3Schools is a web developer information website, with tutorials and references relating to web development topics including technologies such as HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript, PHP, ASP, SQL etc.

It is created and owned by Refsnes Data, a Norwegian family-owned software development and consulting company.

W3schools presents thousands of code examples. By using the online editor provided, readers can edit the examples and execute the code experimentally.

 shayhowe

Learn to Code 

Learn to Code HTML & CSS has one goal — to teach people how to build beautiful and intuitive websites by way of clear and organized lessons. The guide covers a variety of web design and development topics, ranging from beginner to advanced skill levels.

Learn to Code HTML & CSS is written by designer & front-end developer Shay Howe.

github

GitHub 

GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over six million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.

With the collaborative features of GitHub.com, our desktop apps, and GitHub Enterprise, it has never been easier for individuals and teams to write better code, faster.

Originally founded by Tom Preston-WernerChris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett to simplify sharing code, GitHub has grown into the world’s largest code host.

 

appsforgood

APPS

Applications are everywhere. Whatever it is you need, have a problem with, or are interested in, there is an app for it. The following sites help you understand and maybe even build your very own digital age survival kit: an app.

Apps for Good 

Our goal is to transform the way technology is taught in schools; to empower students from all backgrounds to seize the opportunities of our digital age and create solutions to the problems they care about, using technology.

Apps for Good is an open-source technology education movement that partners with educators in schools and learning centres to deliver our course to young people 10-18 years of age. We provide the course content, training and connections to our Expert volunteers, and then let teachers do what they are best at – inspiring and guiding young people.

In the course, students work together as teams to find real issues they care about and learn to build a mobile, web or social app to solve them. Like professional entrepreneurs, students go through all key aspects of new product development, from idea generation, technical feasibility and programming to product design, deciding on business models and marketing.

Our roots lie in the favelas of Brazil where our parent CDI started computer based learning programmes in the 1990’s. Our future is to become a global platform for creative learning through technology.

code with chris

Code with Chris 

This is where I teach people how to build iOS apps even if they don’t have any programming experience.

In addition to building cool applications for other people during the day, I’m also very interested in the quickly evolving indie scene for app and game development. The notion that you can make a living based on the choices that YOU make day to day (aka be your own boss) is very attractive to me.

So with the emerging indie app development scene, I want to empower others to build apps and to keep myself accountable to build and ship products into the App Store. The fact is, if someone becomes inspired as a result of one of my posts or videos and it moves them to take action, that is a huge success in my book.

 

dojo

KIDS

Many online resources are now targeting kids. A generation that was born with the digital, they take tech for granted but do not necessarily know much about it. The websites in this section try to remedy this problem and help shape the digital future of technologies by educating the future web designers, app builders, digital makers and tech specialists.

CoderDojo 

CoderDojo is an open source, volunteer led movement orientated around running free not-for-profit coding clubs (Dojos) for young people. Since CoderDojo is an open source movement, are different and completely autonomous! Dojos are set up, run by and led by volunteers.

At a Dojo, young people between 7 and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and much more. In addition to learning to code, members meet like minded people, show off what they’ve been working on and so on. CoderDojo makes development and learning to code a fun, sociable and awesome experience. CoderDojo also puts a strong emphasis on open source and free software, and has a strong network of members and volunteers globally. 

 

codeclub
Code Club 

Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites.

Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on.

 kidsruby

KidsRuby 

KidsRuby makes it fun and easy to learn how to program.

You can see your code, run it, and see what it outputs all at the same time. This makes it a lot easier to learn.

KidsRuby is real Ruby code. You can also do anything that “Hackety-Hack” can do like display messages. (Hackety-Hack is an older program for kids to learn programming using Ruby).

rasperry

Raspberry Pi 

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer, which can be used in electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn how computers work, how to manipulate the electronic world around them, and how to program.

There isn’t much any small group of people can do to address problems like an inadequate school curriculum or the end of a financial bubble. But we felt that we could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them had to be forbidden by parents; and to find a platform that, like those old home computers, could boot into a programming environment.

scratch

Scratch 

With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.

Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

 

Adobe

OTHER

Some resources are too important to ignore, yet do not really fit into categories. Adobe TV, promoting its own software, but also providing tutorials to every tool anyone interested in creative technologies will one day use, is such an example. Tableau Software tackles data, and our understanding, or lack of it.

Adobe TV 

Adobe TV is Adobe’s online TV network, offering free training, inspiration, and information about the latest Adobe products & services. The best of Adobe’s expertise and community is now in one place. Watch when you want and where you want, save episodes, subscribe to your favorite channel, and post videos on your blog. And it’s not only the talent that’s in action – Adobe TV itself is produced and delivered using Adobe products and technologies. From planning to playback, Adobe TV is brought to you by Adobe.

tableau

Tableau Software 

Tableau helps people see and understand their data.

We believe data analysis should be about asking questions, not about learning software. We make inspiring, easy-to-use products that help people achieve greatness with data. So that data can reach its full potential and positively impact the world.

Data yearns to be free, to tell its stories to all those who care about its revelations. Discovering and sharing those stories should be easy. But it’s not. Why? Most software intended to help people access and understand data is hard to use. For too long, data has been trapped behind scripts, wizards and code.

CTD logo

At Digital Present, we explore what 21c digital literacy means within an art and design university setting – recognising the continuum of functional skills, creative engagement and critical inquiry. The resources listed in this post are accessible by all, helping us understand and take control of digital technologies, opening new possibilities in our practices, and making us aware of what is increasingly shaping our technologically mediated environments and lives.

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many more resources, online and in the analogue world to help us grasp what digital technologies are all about. These websites are, however, a good place to start exploring new skills, new possibilities, and start making.

QUICK LIST AND LINKS
Creative Bloq
Creative Bloq Tutorials 
BBC Learning
School of Everything
Computer Science for Fun 
Decoded 
E-skills UK 
Mozilla Webmaker
Technology Will Save Us
Lynda
Codeacademy 
W3 Schools 
Learn to Code 
GitHub 
Apps for Good 
Code with Chris 
CoderDojo 
Code Club 
KidsRuby
Raspberry Pi
Scratch
Adobe TV 
Tableau Software