Electronic Textiles as Disruptive Designs: Supporting and Challenging Maker Activities in Schools

Electronic textiles are a part of the increasingly popular maker movement that champions existing do-it-yourself activities. As making activities broaden from Maker Faires and fabrication spaces in children’s museums, science centers, and community organizations to school classrooms, they provide new opportunities for learning while challenging many current conventions of schooling. In this article, authors Yasmin Kafai, Deborah Fields, and Kristin Searle consider one disruptive area of making: electronic textiles. The authors examine high school students’ experiences making e-textile designs across three workshops that took place over the course of a school year and discuss individual students’ experiences making e-textiles in the context of broader findings regarding themes of transparency, aesthetics, and gender. They also examine the role of e-textiles as both an opportunity for, and challenge in, breaking down traditional barriers to computing.

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