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DAVID CUARTIELLES

David is inspiring a generation of teens to better understand technology and problem solving by designing and implementing a new model and process that unqualified teachers can use to engage students in specific technology applications. His model, Creative Technologies in the Classroom, provides teachers with a platform, tools, support and confidence to help young people acquire new skills and technical knowledge. To expand its impact, David is designing an open source platform to share educational content created by teachers themselves.

This profile below was prepared when David Cuartielles was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship .

INTRODUCTION

David is inspiring a generation of teens to better understand technology and problem solving by designing and implementing a new model and process that unqualified teachers can use to engage students in specific technology applications. His model, Creative Technologies in the Classroom, provides teachers with a platform, tools, support and confidence to help young people acquire new skills and technical knowledge. To expand its impact, David is designing an open source platform to share educational content created by teachers themselves.




THE NEW IDEA

David makes learning technology part of a creative and problem solving process for children and teenagers, motivating them to use technology not as an end in itself, but as a tool to design solutions, reach outcomes and create change. This process provides thousands of young people with the opportunity to solve problems and see their ideas put to practice from a very young age. 
Schools in Spain are obliged to have 3 hours of technology teaching a week. But most teachers don’t have the skills nor the knowledge to do so, often making their classes boring and uninspired, driving away students from this field. David has seen this problem as an opportunity and has developed a model that can be applied by un-skilled teachers to teach technology in a way that encourages creativity, teamwork and problem solving through a learning by doing process. 
His model, Creative Technologies in the Classroom (CTC), provides teachers with the platform, tools, support and confidence to help young students acquire new skills and technical knowledge. 
CTC is designed to simultaneously train teachers from 40 different schools to implement the methodology in their classrooms. This professional development is supported with an elaborate online forum to provide continued support, also creating a very powerful community of empowered teachers. Furthermore, each school is provided with a simple, affordable and open-source kit to use throughout the academic year. Teachers are also encouraged to work across the school curriculum with other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects to develop joint projects and objectives.




THE PROBLEM

Technology affects practically every aspect of our lives, only accelerating the rate of change of an already very fast-paced society. Children and adolescents must not only master technology – which in many cases they do – but learn how to use technology as a powerful educational and problem-solving tool. Yet there are some schools that are delaying this opportunity of using technology in the classroom as the valuable learning tool it is and of educating a generation of young, active and creative problem-solvers. 

As part of the Spanish educational reform in 1995, the subject of technology was introduced in the academic curriculum, suddenly and with minimal training for teachers. These teachers, with no previous experience or knowledge on the matter, had to face the challenge of teaching a new subject, without the necessary support or infrastructure. The result was a heavily theoretical and boring subject, often demotivating young students to pursue scientific branches. 

Meanwhile the technological subject field is an essential element in the current and future job market in most developed countries. STEM employment grew three times more than non-STEM employment in the past 5 years, and yet has very poor curricular content in Spain and is often taught in isolation, resulting in low acceptance by students. Although the Spanish public system mandates three hours per week of technology education in secondary schools, the time is poorly used and teachers are unprepared. 

Newer concepts such as the “open-source” world, collaborative economy or indeed social entrepreneurship or changemaking are not included in the state curricular content. Teachers, specifically those related to the STEM world, vocationally want to improve their teaching and content for students but have neither the support nor the resources to do so. 

Key among all challenges is the lack of adequate, ongoing professional development for teachers who are required to integrate new technologies into their classrooms yet who are unprepared or unable to understand. This results in lack of motivation from teachers, and new investments are left unused or applied through old processes.




THE STRATEGY

David has created a model to change the way technology is taught in schools around the world by implementing a cost-effective and widespread roll-out strategy that empowers teachers and enthuses students to learn through technology. David has succeeded in implementing his Creative Technology curriculum in over 450 schools in the past 3 years, in Spain, Sweden and Ecuador. This means that so far more than 13,000 adolescents have had the chance to practice new forms of creativity and problem solving. David has taken his university-based teaching, specifically designed for technology in the creative world, and adapted it to secondary education. His experience has shown him that children and teenagers are not necessarily attracted to coding or algorithms but that experimenting with circuit boards – or any other open-source and easy-to-use hardware - to create tangible outcomes is hugely stimulating and motivating. David implements his methodology through Verkstad, the company he founded around Arduino (a ground-breaking technology co-created by David), and offers teachers and schools an educational experience based on technology that can be adjusted from three months to a whole academic year. The success of CTC is the tailor-made Arduino kit, an essential part of the hands-on process. These kits are economically accessible for schools (36€ per kit, and only one kit is needed per class) and are designed specifically to fit in the content of the training course allowing students (and teachers) to experiment and evaluate progress throughout each module. In fact, the interactive course is designed in such a way that students feel that, after each module, they have reached a milestone, increasing motivation throughout the process. Each kit – which weighs about 10kg – includes documentation, software, access to an online platform for direct support for teachers, and the Arduino hardware. It allows to develop at least 26 different projects around gaming, robotics (basic electro mechanics), digitalization and communications. 




THE PERSON

Passionate about technology and education, David is dedicated to ensuring access equality to tools that can facilitate a collaborative learning experience. 

David has dedicated most of his adult life to teaching. Affected by his mother’s inability to study medicine, as she would have liked, he is also very concerned about access to education for everybody regardless of background, social status or income. It was this obsession that inspired him to enter the world of open source hardware 

David wanted to be an “inventor” since the age of 10, and years later became one of the co-creators of Arduino, one of the first open source hardware platforms. His background in engineering and education, and his vocation to ensure access to education for everybody regardless of their income and social standing, resulted in the creation of Arduino, pioneer in open source hardware. Arduino (open-source electronic prototyping platform for the production of interactive electronic objects) is the basis of David’s educational methodology, as it allows to experiment and create prototypes without need for professional knowledge or training, fostering the maker culture and community within the schools. 

Arduino has become a global leading platform for DIY electronics and earned the team an Honorary Mention at the Ars Electronica Digital Community Prix 2006. For David, Arduino was born from the need to offer students a cost effective tool for them to learn. Arduino was launched at 25 USD when comparative technology at that time was around 1,000 USD, therefore revolutionising access to hardware experimentation. 

David was trained in micro-electronic engineering, but today defines himself as an Education Designer. He is passionate about how education can be transformed through enabling children and young people to play and test engineering ideas in partnership with peers and experts. 

He works to enable such learning to take place through various initiatives including the Fabriken (also known as FBRKN), a FabLab at STPLN in Malmö (which he directs), the Arduino community and his academic research at Malmö University (Sweden). 

Since the late nineties he has developed robotic, mobile and net based interactive art installations and open source tools for live performance and education.




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