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Designing for Failure: New Directions for Supporting Successful Learning - A skyline lecture by Yasmin B. Kafai, University of Pennsylvania

In education, we cherish success and fear failure. But not every learning experience is a success right away. In fact, making mistakes and then learning from them is the norm rather than the exception. My talk is about finding a different, more productive stance which can turn failure into success for learning. Drawing upon research in secondary computer science education, specifically in the context of designing and programming wearable and machine learning applications with electronic textiles (clothing that connects sensors and actuators via sewing circuits with conductive thread), I present the idea of "Debugging by Design." This instructional approach involves students actively designing failure projects for others to fix, collecting, and celebrating their mistakes, and learning from each other in the process. By intentionally designing failure projects, students can deepen their understanding of concepts, enhance problem-solving skills, and cultivate a growth mindset. Additionally, this approach can be extended to explore machine learning applications as failure artifacts, fostering ethical considerations and mitigating biases. As machine learning becomes increasingly pervasive in various domains, it is essential to understand its limitations and potential biases. By embracing failure as an opportunity for growth, we can create a positive and supportive learning environment and illustrate how failure can become a path to success in learning.​​​​​​​


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