The Makerspace Movement is Making Waves in Classrooms Everywhere. So What's it all About?
I've been increasingly interested in learning more about the Makerspace Movement as a teaching and learning tool. Technology can certainly play a part in being a “Maker” as a student in a classroom, but it doesn't necessarily have to. But even when it doesn't, it fits right in with concepts like Active Learning and Project Based Learning that we love to explore here (these can also use tech, but do not have to). Today's post from guest writer James Broadbean gives us a good overview of this growing trend in today's innovative teaching practices. – KW
Have the children of today lost the ability to create and invent? Has the replacement of Legos and Play-Doh with iPads and Xboxes’ removed the natural curiosity to make things in our youth? Pioneers of the emerging ‘Makerspace Movement’ will disagree and instead suggest that students just need the space and time to let their creativity flourish.
Part of the trending ‘DIY Culture’, the ‘Maker’ subculture refers to the ideology of cutting out the middleman and creating your own product or idea which can then be shared or improved upon. The ideology of the Maker Movement is to discover through the sharing of ideas and many enthusiasts use the internet to find like-minded people to commune with.
Maker culture utilizes the developing technological advances to further knowledge rather than allowing the technology to replace it. Extremely popular websites such as Etsy, which showcases handmade goods and makes huge revenues, are essentially maker communities that demonstrate the growing power of the trend.
Making Space for Makers in Education
Today, learning institutions are beginning to embrace the Maker culture and are providing children with ‘Makerspaces’ that deliver a platform for making things and learning through hands-on design. The makeshift areas are often just unused storage spaces, classrooms or libraries with resources such as- electronics, metalwork, woodwork, robotics and arts and crafts that children can use.
The idea of these Makerspaces is to allow the student to discover, invent and understand through ‘making’. To engage students and teach them the practical skills that are important in today’s technological age. The program does not intend to replace the traditional educational format, rather it is supposed that they can coexist.
A school in Virginia, US has hit the headlines with their Makerspace Program and the schools innovative philosophy has other institutions re-thinking their learning environments. The school has transformed their library into a Maker Space area with 3D printers and computer repair and programming zones which students can attend, run and share ideas within.
Several schools, colleges and universities are considering implementing such areas in their establishments but it doesn’t have to be big budget. Makerspaces can be as simple as a room with building blocks and paint as long as the viewpoint of the teachers is to champion creativity and innovation through making. However, for more advanced tools schools can apply for sponsorships or grants through sites such as ‘Botball’ or they can fund the project materials online through DonorsChoose.org.
Resources to Learn More
Here is a selection of web resources that are great sites for learning more about what's going on with the Makerspace movement in our schools:
- The Blog at Makerspace.com: There are plenty of posts here focused on the Makerspace movement in education.
- The Case for a Campus Makerspace: Hack Education's Audrey Watters makes the case for creating Makerspaces in our Higher Education institutions.
- 6 Strategies for Funding a Makerspace: Some great ideas for funding a Makerspace in your school.
- The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces: This article is a reprint from the June 2014 issue of Teacher Librarian: The Journal for School Library Professionals. It is “a thoughtful and insightful examination of the philosophy and pedagogical underpinnings of the maker movement.”
The current educational system is often criticized for being stale and outdated so it is important that projects such as the Makerspace Movement are recognized. The world is changing rapidly and it is essential that our teaching techniques follow suit to maintain their relevance.
The Makerspace Movement is here to stay and should be welcomed and encouraged!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Education Technology Thought Leader Interview – Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.
20 Fun Free Tools for Interactive Classroom Collaboration
Student Created Content is an Exciting and Inspiring Learning Tool that Teaches Many Skills