The Chalk Blog

Making a Mark with Makerspaces

makerspaces.png"If you build it, they will come and if you let them build it, they will learn." ~ Laura Fleming

Have you heard some rumblings about makerspaces, but aren’t really sure what they are or why you should care?  We are here to help with some basic information about makerspaces including what it is, why it's picking up momentum, what impact they have on student learning and how you can get started.

What is the maker movement?

For decades, modern society has made our lives easier by eliminating our need to make things.  But the maker movement is here and the pendulum is swinging back.

The maker movement is, "a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device."-techopedia1

With the recent resurgence of DIY trends, making has infiltrated communities and schools alike. The maker movement is being replicated in our schools as we recognize the importance of the kind of thinking required for making.  Schools and libraries across the country have started makerspaces.  

Get started on your makerspaces movement today by registering for Learners Edge FREE webinar: Making a Mark with Makerspaces: One Maker Share His Success Story on Monday, March 27 at 4:00pm CDT. Unable to make the webinar Monday? Access our FREE on-demand library to watch it or any of our previously recorded webinars later.

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What are makerspaces?

"Makerspaces are places where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests; learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual; and develop creative projects." ~ Diana Lendina, media specialist/teacher librarian in Tampa, Florida who transformed her school library and started a makerspace from scratch.

Makerspaces can come in all shapes and sizes and originate from the digital world’s hackerspaces.  A makerspace can have a fun name like FabLab, Techshop, Creations Station, The Makery,  The Innovation Lab or CoLaboratory.   Sometimes makerspaces are open for a limited time only – Maker Fairs are events that showcase making.  The key takeaway is that your makerspace will be what you make it.

Why is making picking up momentum?

K12 schools across the country are reaping the benefits of making. Makerspaces are learner-centered and provide relevance and authenticity to learning.  Makerspaces can be flexible and adaptable so help to address differentiation and diverse learning style preferences. Makerspaces can promote an entrepreneurial mindset.  Makerspaces encourage digital literacy and can help teachers and students become more comfortable with tech tools.

Makerspaces help students move from rote learning to creating something that makes their thinking visible. Teachers across the country are working hard to prepare students with 21st Century skills.  Those skills include: creativity and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; and communication and collaboration.  According to the US Department of Labor, 65% of today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet.  Futurist Thomas Frey predicts that by 2030 over 2 billion jobs will not exist anymore, which is about 50% of all jobs on the planet. So, how can teachers prepare students for success if we don’t really know what that might look like? Instructional approaches that promote creativity, innovative thinking, and technical knowledge are a great place to start and that’s just where makerspaces come in.

Learn more about this way of teaching and how you can engage students with your own form of a maker space with Learners Edge's FREE Edge Express Course #424: Making Your Mark on the Maker Movement.

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Makerspaces unleash the power of learning by doing. It’s human nature to tinker.

Herman Miller researchers studied 13 innovation centers from across the country.  They found:

“…there is a direct correlation between effective learning and the experience of constructing a meaningful product. Furthermore, it’s been shown that encounters with tools can promote self-discovery and new thinking, which support social and technological innovation.”2

Additionally, makerspaces promote curiosity, resiliency, problem solving, self-direction, and self-evaluation.  Makerspaces, by design, are “safe” spaces where students can learn to embrace the flop and fail forward. Making involves trial and error; it’s likely that at first we won’t succeed, so students develop grit, persistence and a love for problem-solving and critical thinking. These traits promote effective learning across disciplines and will help position students to successfully transition to the future job market. "Agility is the new smart," says Annmarie Neal, founder of the Center for Leadership Innovation.

"If you can make a mistake, you can make anything!" ~ Marva Collin

Finally, makerspaces are typically designed as open spaces and thus encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas.  Many schools have capitalized on this aspect to promote intergenerational learning.   Students from different grade levels, teachers, staff and community members can come together to solve problems and to exchange ideas.  Additionally, schools may seek community sponsorships to support makerspaces thereby building bridges that expand outside the walls of the school.

So, do makerspaces really impact student learning?

Makerspaces can help to move students from consumers to creators.  Evidence of the beneficial effects of makerspaces is beginning to be documented. In a 2013 report, high-school-age users of YOUmedia (a makerspace) at the Chicago Public Library listed these effects: 

  • Feeling of safety, community, and belonging
  • Greater involvement with chosen interests
  • Improvement in at least one digital media skill
  • Improved academic, communication, and writing skills
  • Better understanding of opportunities after high school

Get started on your markerspace journey by joining us an upcoming webinar: Making A Mark with Makerspaces: One Maker Shares His Success Story.

 

Makerspaces Webinar (1).png

We’ll lead you through some important guiding questions to help you make your mark with makerspaces:

  • Who can partner and support me in this project?
  • What are your makerspace goals?
  • What kind of experience are you trying to create?
  • Who will lead the student experience?
  • What expectations do I have for students?
  • How much physical space do I have?
  • What does my school already have?
  • How can I get what we don’t already have?
  • How will students access the space?

We hope to see you at the webinar!

Can't make the webinar? Don't worry, our webinar recordings are available on-demand for FREE on the Learners Edge website.

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Sources:

1. What is the Maker Movement? - Definition from Techopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/28408/maker-movement

2. "Innovation Through Experience: Reshaping Learning Spaces for Makers, Hackers, and Coworkers." Innovation Through Experience: Reshaping Learning Spaces for Makers, Hackers, and Coworkers – Research Summaries – Herman Miller. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

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Topics: Leadership

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