Talking of “systems thinking” has some people stymied in the Making Learning Connected MOOC this week. That’s OK. Pushing people to think different about the world is part of the learning process. Even though our world is built upon systems, we don’t often make those systems visible or even wonder about it.
I was thinking of how to engage more people in making a system more visible and have fun with it and then it dawned on me: Rube Goldberg Machines. You know Rube Goldberg Machines, right? They were crazy contraptions designed out in the old days of Sunday Comics by Rube Goldberg that remain hilarious to read, even today.
He was a master at visual humor but even his stories that went along with the contraptions are examples of concise writing and humorous twists in the end. I use Rube Goldberg examples with my sixth graders as a way to teach them how to read visual information and how to write out an expository drawing of something.
The key concept is that each Rube Goldberg contraption is a system, where one thing causes another thing to happen, all as a chain of events leading to something strange and weird. It’s cause-and-effect in service of a laugh.
My drawing above, done in the app Comics Head, is how to break the Internet. My hope is that my CLMOOC friends might dive into designing their own Rube Goldberg contraptions as a way to explore systems, with the hashtag #ruberiff in social media spaces. You can draw it out on a napkin, use only art, or use only writing.
Come #ruberiff with me this week. Make something funny.
Peace (with Rube), Kevin