The Maker Movement is a theoretical and physical embodiment of constructivism that will reform how we educate students. (Roffey, 2015) Education grounded in “making” has the capacity to transform the way we think about pedagogy and learning (Kurti, Kurti, & Flemming, 2014). At the heart of this movement is the understanding that “learning happens best when learners construct their understanding through a process of constructing things to share with others” (Donaldson, 2014, p. 1). Key to the success of the maker movement in education is the shift away from ready-made knowledge to a classroom environment ripe for exploration, creativity, innovation and collaboration (Donaldson, 2014; Papert & Harel, 1991; Schön, Ebner, & Kumar; Schrock, 2014) with hands on materials and real world problems (Hatch, 2013). – Makerspace for Education
Makerspace for Education is a comprehensive online resource that speaks pretty well for itself; so we’ll let it do the talking here: “The purpose of Makerspace for Education is to provide educators with a hands-on, creative, user friendly, “anytime, anyplace”, professional development tool that can be used as part of a community of practice. It allows educators to inform themselves, with tools at their fingertips, on the various aspects of the makerspace as they are ready. Using interactive tools that allow access to necessary information, directly from a user-friendly interface and based on the key frameworks of constructionism and constructivism, makerspace, design thinking and media literacies, teachers will have the tools they need to begin, or continue, their makerspace journeys.”
That’s a big promise that delivers in important ways, just by being there. Developed by Trish Roffey, an Emerging Technology Consultant and Teacher for Learning Services Innovation in Edmonton Catholic Schools the Makerspace for Education website is collaboratively “made by teachers for teachers.” The site explores different aspects of classroom makerspaces independently, allowing for each element (material) to be explored and implemented on its own, or integrated with other elements with which educators are already familiar.
It seems obvious to us, with our extensive background in public makerspace design (FCDI Executive Director, Terri Willingham’s book, Library Makerspaces: The Complete Guide, was published earlier this year). But without a frame of reference, it’s reasonable to ask what relevance classroom makerspaces have to manufacturing education and training. The short answer is: “Making” is manufacturing and “manufacturing” is making.
As we continue to explore the manufacturing landscape in the 21st century and its connection to the larger academic , business and industry ecosystem, it’s clear that to create a seamless academic and talent pipeline that serves manufacturers and all businesses, the earlier youth are exposed to the terminology, tools and skillsets of making things, and the more readily they’ll grasp and explore careers in manufacturing and related fields.
Think of academic makerspaces as 21st century machine shops, which most schools no longer have. But many schools are open to creating hands on learning spaces that include additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping design and production, robotics education platforms, Augmented and Virtual Reality tools, hand tools and small scale power tools, and design and coding education resources. That idea of inspiring students to “exploration, creativity, innovation and collaboration with hands on materials and real world problems” isn’t all that different from what manufacturers do all the time.
Among the gems here:
- Curriculum Guide – Acting as a field guide to navigating the website, the curriculum guide is chockablock with professional resources, tutorials, lessons and web links.
- Reference page
- Mechanisms of a Makerspace – i.e. pedagogy
- Makerspace Workbook – a budgeting tool for building out your space
The drawbacks are largely organizational and cosmetic. Navigation is inconsistent, and resources get lost within the content at times. It’s also easy to get lost within the site itself, since one you click into a page and start scrolling and clicking on other things, it can be hard to get back to where you were. A menu bar on each page would be helpful, as would standardizing the overall layout to make it easier to find the great resources buried in the site. On the home page, I found this great “Makerspace Workbook” under a “Purchasing Ideas” icon (and which also isn’t editable, so it functions more as a reference resource). But then when I wanted to locate it again, I couldn’t find it anywhere. It’s not linked in the Materials of a Makerspace tab, which says “Coming Soon” on the landing page, but which when accessed through the top “More” tab, blossoms into dozens more drop downs (which is a bit confusing and hard to navigate as well, with numerous other submenus branching off from the others).
The reliance on kits is also something of which to be aware. While MaKeyMaKeys , Bloxels and LittleBits are great resources, it would be nice to see a far more comprehensive “tools” list than is presented in the budgeting workbook. Things like a well rounded collection of hand tools, small power tools, Dremels, die cutters, and desktop CNCs and routers would all be great and affordable additions to any school makerspace.
Those observations aside, there’s plenty to mine on this site, and ways to connect directly with Roffey and others to ask questions and share ideas. Overall, Makerspace for Education is a good jumping off point to explore different methodologies, tools and resources for employing making in the classroom. Combine with:
- Instructables for Teachers
- Maker Education
- Renovated Learning
- Using a Fab Lab for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FormLabs)
- School Fab Lab
And you’re ready to make some seriously meaningful education happen!