DIGIPLAYSPACE: Final Weekend for Digital Play @ TIFF

Young boy playing with interactive screen, ipad and computer

“digiPLAYSPACE is an interactive adventure where kids will engage with emerging creative media technologies and innovative artistic experiences!”

It’s a great time to be a kid!  Innovative educators are getting it that for children (and adults too) play = learning. The out-dated model of teaching by dictation followed by recitation needs a DNR order – no resuscitation please! Experiential learning is where it is at. And exhibits like TIFF Bell Lightbox’s popular digiPLAYSPACE give kids that chance to do just that by interacting with “emerging creative media technologies.”

Recently TVO’s The Agenda featured a series called Learning 2030 to explore how these digital technologies will impact the classroom of the future.

Children born in 2012 will graduate from high school in 2030. They will grow up in a world dominated by the Internet, smartphones, computers, and tablet computers. They will likely participate in a historically crucial transition — one as significant as the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press — from learning steeped in books and blackboards to learning shaped by the screen.” (cited from www.tvo.org)

In this new world where bits of data come at us from all directions it is essential that the generations coming up understand how to assess and build a framework around information to create relevant meaning. More than ever children need to be taught how to learn rather than just what to learn.

Speaking on the March 1st panel for The Agenda’s The Classroom of 2030 at Kitchener’s Communitech  Mark Federman (Alder Graduate Professional School) says that we should  replace the emphasis on the 3 Rs to the 4 Cs – Connection, Context, Complexity and Connotation  – “we need to become used to ambiguity” and not knowing the outcome before we start. A child who is confident in environments where the outcome can’t be predicted is a child who will be able to navigate new spaces and bridge connections between complex ideas within multiple contexts to make meaning that is relevant to them.

Young boy playing with potatoes acting as conduits for electricity

Something as simple as an app can enable a child to go on a non-linear, exploratory journey of discovery. This New Culture of Learning includes, as The Agenda’s host Steve Paikin says, “very strange concepts like fun, passion, games.”

Panelist Douglas Thomas (author of A New Cultural of Learning) says that teachers shouldn’t be punished for making their classrooms easy and rewarded for making the work hard. When a child comments that their class is easy what he or she is really saying is that they are engaged.  Easy does not mean that the learning is not without challenge. Play + Challenge = Solutions.

Young boy and woman high fiving each other

Two local playmates and advocates of deep learning via the lightness of fun are Zahra Ebrahim (archiTEXT) and Mary Tangelder (Spire Works).

“ Zahra’s design class at Ontario College of Art and Deisgn (OCAD) carried their chairs three blocks to Toronto City Hall and initiated a game of musical chairs with passer-bys — an activity that inevitably led to dialogue about community and public space. With Canadian Federal ministry, she’s facilitated a workshop to illuminate the role of play within bureaucracy; back in Toronto, she’s engaged social entrepreneurs with alternative ways of brainstorming through play. Over in Kenya, Mary regularly leads play activities with post-graduate university students to explore how to design schools and learning spaces in refugee camps and communities affected by war, conflict, and natural disasters.” (cited www.huffingtonpost.com) 

Images of kids playing with toys made by the 3D printer in the backgroundChildren playing with interactive screenDescription of interactive exhibit

And in this new world, Canada’s educational system would benefit from taking cues from older traditions that are tried, tested and true. The Learning 2030 series also included a panel discussion –  “Looking to the Future of Aboriginal Education.” Among the many points raised, David Newhouse (Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University) touched on the fact that experiential learning is not some new trend but rather the way indigenous cultures have been passing on knowledge for generations –  long before the first Bible was printed in good ol’ Gutenberg.  (Listen to the Q & A podcast.)

The indigenous way sees the world as the classroom and peer-to-peer learning as foundational. This is not unlike the vision panelist Christine Webb (Director, Academic Programs at University of Waterloo Stratford Campus) has for describing the classroom of the future. She believes that the classroom will become decentralized through online technologies and more emphasis will be placed on the interaction between students learning through each other via chatrooms and blogs as well as creating e-portfolios together. In a virtual space the physical classroom is replaced by a digital “textbook” where students, mentors and educators can co-create and collaborate. It is just the kind of space that affirms play as a valid process for education.

And this style of learning leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and plenty of time for field trips to TIFF!

So treat the 21st Century kids in your life to the final weekend of digiPLAYSPACE. From iPods to potatoes, 3D printers and interactive green screens digiPLAYSPACE offers “an interactive adventure where they will laugh and learn with new media technologies, interactive art installations, learning-centric games, mobile apps, and new digital tools and hands-on production activities. There’s something for everyone!” (cited from www.tiff.net)

Young boy casting a ballot in a box to vote for his favourite exhibit at DigiPlaySpacePhotography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

VISUAL MEDICINE: Andrew Dexel Opening @ Neubacher Shor Contemporary in Toronto

Change of Seasons by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Canvas. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

“The explosion of colour is a form of medicine”

It’s fitting that Andrew Dexel’s work should follow MIXED BAG MAG’s post on the Journey of Nishiyuu. Andrew is another example of how young Aboriginal voices are getting our attention regarding the importance of referencing Indigenous Knowledge as a source for solutions to today’s problems.

Hailing from Vancouver, Andrew is from the Nlaka’pamux Nation. His work acknowledges the clash of values we have in Canada yet in its own way bridges the gap as he soothes the viewer with an artistic remedy.

“My work relates my spiritual path; my journey. I express the inspiration lovingly given to me through teachings and stories from my elders and mentors. My work embodies the powerful visions that I have been given through these teachings. I am grateful. My work is a modern expression embodying the symbolic abstract inspired by my home: Coast Salish Territory.” Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel

Tomorrow evening in Toronto at the Neubacher Shor Contemporary Gallery in Parkdale Andrew’s show “Nooaitch” opens. As one of the artists featured in the online version of Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture as well as the exhibition at SAW gallery in Ottawa, this solo show of Andrew’s work compliments the Beat Nation show currently on at The Power Plant.

Colourful painting down in Contemporary West Coast Art style Colourful painting down in West Coast Art style Colourful painting in the West Coast Style

“A fusion between graffiti and North West Coast Art”

“Ceremony and spirit, transformative art and ancient knowledge, these are themes throughout Nlaka’pamux artist, Andrew Dexel’s work…the voices of younger artists like Dexel who are working to fuse indigenous perspectives, aesthetics and tradition within new forms and materials are the cutting edge of ‘Native’ art. Dexel’s earlier work with graffiti art and street art led him to looking more diligently at Westcoast formline design and really solidified his ideas in line work. His unique palette, comes in part from this graffiti reference and also from the world of ceremony, the explosion of colour is a form of medicine, blowing up our expectations and creating new forms and ideas with diverse starting points. One part medicine, one part magic Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture, with the beauty of his lines, the hopefulness of his palette and the spiritual animism that populate his canvasses.” ~ Tania Willard (co-curator of Beat Nation)

Andrew is part of a growing movement of contemporary Aboriginal artists who hover in the in-between space of traditional and modern. These artists blend together indigenous knowledge of healing  with a street smart aesthetic. It is here that  Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel moves fluidly. He offers us “visual medicine.” Experience the healing.

Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture”

Andrew’s new work at Nooaitch show

www.visualmedicine.ca | En Paa Uk Flickr Stream

WEDNESDAY NIGHT…
Opening Reception for Andrew Dexel: Nooaitch
Neubacher Shor Contemporary 6 – 9pm
(Show runs until April 27)
5 Brock Avenue, Toronto, M6K 2K6

Map to Neubacher Shor Contemporary

Logo that reads Neubacher Shor Contemporary

Acrylic painting on wood in West Coast Art styleRaven Child by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Crated Wood Panel. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

Star Nation by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Canvas. Image provided by Neubacher Shor Contemporary.