What are Makerspaces?

The turn of the 21st century has signaled a shift in what types of skillsets have real, applicable value in a rapidly advancing world. The question of how to renovate or repurpose classrooms to address the needs of the future is being answered through the concept of makerspaces, or workshops that offer tools and the learning experiences needed to help people carry out their ideas. The driving force behind makerspaces is rooted in the maker movement, a following comprised of artists, tech enthusiasts, engineers, builders, tinkerers, and anyone else with a passion for making things. The foundation of the maker movement was built on the success of the Maker Faire, a gathering that launched in 2006 and has since propagated itself into numerous community-driven events all over the world. Makerspaces are intended to appeal to people of all ages, and are founded on openness to experiment, iterate, and create. In this landscape, creativity, design, and engineering are making their way to the forefront of educational considerations, as tools such as 3D printers, robotics, and 3D modeling web-based applications become accessible to more people. Proponents of makerspaces for education highlight the benefit of engaging learners in creative, higher-order problem solving through hands-on design, construction, and iteration.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016Makerspaces are beginning to take hold in our sector, many universities have them now. The movement encourages creative thinking in a uniquely engaging way. It leverages the global community movements facilitated by the internet and can be used to engage student cohorts that like creating objects and using new tools such as 3D printers.
  • Precursors to Makerspaces have been studio and project based activities and spaces that have been around for a while. By combining new technologies and focussing on the holistic approach to the process of conceiving, construction and cooperation in a dedicated space we needed a new label and Makerspaces seems to be inspiring new approaches to curriculum design and delivery. - geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Jan 20, 2016
  • Makerspaces are explicitly about active learning through creative activities. They help encourage students to explore ideas physically as well as virtually and are typically collaborative and explorative in orientation. They're also fun and help build a sense of engagement and motivation which are often lacking in academic activities. Finally, many Makerspaces encourage collaboration outside of formal study with members of the community and industry or businesses. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Perhaps a pedagogical model that integrates the learning, assessment, technology and physical space so that Makerspaces are not seen as an addition but part of the core curriculum? - geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Jan 20, 2016
  • - gillysalmon gillysalmon Jan 24, 2016 yes that would be soooo good Geoffrey
  • The text also implies a focus on STEM education rather than recognising the impact the technology can have in many other disciplines, particularly given the ability to produce a variety of creative works directly, or through the application of software.- stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • The concept of Makerspace goes beyond providing access to tools and technologies. It is a shared learning experience driven and supported by peers and community experts. This is a huge challenge to higher education that represents the opposite learning approach. Opening up resources and space for community members to come in and explore biotechnologies, legal ethics, astrophysics, philosophy, dentistry, etc., lead by community experts (that could/should include academics) in community learning experiences, represents a major rethink to how and why universities operate. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016Its difficult to see what the full impact might be, but initial indications show quite a wide uptake. The approach makes use of 3D printers in an interesting way and the relatively simple design thinking methods can be easily deployed in different educational contexts and disciplinary fields.
  • I think the biggest impact is likely to be at the intersection between formal education and external contexts, helping students engage with community groups and employers, supporting entrepreneurial activities and so on. There are also clear advantages in staff using these spaces to create research artifacts and teaching aids - we already have staff creating specimens for student use based on online databases of animal skeletons that we could never use directly ourselves. Interestingly this latter issue may help students work with specimens that represent culturally challenging objects for example Maori students working with models of human bones. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • A sandbox for exploration and design, maker/user testing, collaboration and open source development - joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 21, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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