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High-Tech Textile Design - September 20, 2012 Webinar with Kylie Peppler

On the connectedlearning.tv webinar series last week, Kylie Peppler, assistant professor in the learning sciences program at Indiana University, Bloomington, led a discussion about e-textiles and her current work on creativity, systems thinking, and media arts in youth comminities. For this September 20, 2012 webinar, Peppler was joined by moderator Craig Watkins and participants Christina Cantrill, Michele Knobel, Sam Dyson, and Yasmin Kafai.

Peppler kicks off the webinar with an introduction to e-textiles. E-textiles combine electric circuitry with traditional fiber arts and textiles. Commonly used materials for creating e-textiles include a microcontroller board -- often a Lilypad Arduino -- LEDs, batteries, and conductive materials including conductive thread, velcro, and fabric tape. She explains that makers interested in e-textiles were initially on the fringes of multiple communities; their work didn't quite fit into robotics, but was also quite different from traditional crafting and fashion design. Now, there is an online community called LilyPond, that supports e-textile creators and gives them a space to share their work and get feedback.

The second part of Peppler's presentation looks at how e-textiles intersect with learning. What are youth learning through this process? She highlights three aspects of the arts and physical computing involved in e-textile crafting:

  1. Creative computing: Learning how to computer program toward creative ends
  2. High- and low-tech craftsmanship: Learning how to sew, craft, solder, and more
  3. Electronic construction and theory: Learning how to use electronic components together meaningfully

At this point in the webinar, Peppler opens the conversation to the group. The participants take some time to share how their own work intersects with the e-textile movement. Sam Dyson discusses the work of the Hive Learning Networks project Hive Fashion. Christina Cantril mentions her work with Kylie Peppler on a forthcoming e-textile curriculum titied "Short Circuits." Yasmin Kafai speaks about how this work intersects with her own work in the area of computer science education. And Michele Knobel reflects on how e-textile creation fits within the context of new literacies and 21st century skills.

As a concluding topic, Watkins asks the participants to reflect on what implications the rising popularity of e-textiles could have on gender norms. Sewing and crafting, which often has more female enthusiasts, meets up with robotics and engineering, which has been an arena dominated by males. Participants share statistics, observations, and thoughts on this question.   

You can watch the one-hour webinar below. Visit the webinar archive page to see time markers for specific topics, learn more about the participants and host, and access the session's Livestream chat archive.

Watch live streaming video from connectedlearningtv at livestream.com
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