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. 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. 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. Makerspaces are intended to appeal to people of all ages, and are founded an openness to experiment, iterate, and create. The driving force behind Maker spaces is rooted in the Maker movement, a following comprised of artists, tech enthusiasts, engineers, builders, tinkerers, and anyone else who has a passion for making things. The formation of the movement stems from 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.

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

  • Repositioning learning spaces, focus on tinkering and creation, implications beyond STEM subjects towards providing students with agency, emphasising design and systems thinking. Skills that enable big picture thinking and visioning. (- cpaterso cpaterso Feb 14, 2014)
  • Potential to use these learning spaces to enable to students to build communities of practices within Universities - places where interdisciplinary teams of students can work on projects together. Potential for students to develop creativity; design thinking and rapid product develop skills. - ktairi ktairi Feb 18, 2014
  • Engaging learners with things they are creatively passionate about ... many Makerspaces are related to hobbyies and passions that can lead to lifelong and deeper commitment to disciplines or endeavours - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 22, 2014
  • Great possibilities for inter-disciplinary activities and synergies with the type of creative thinking graduates need. - sherman.young sherman.young Feb 22, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I'm not sure where this belongs but I think the point needs to be made that the Makerspace movement comes at a time when many in the community have lost touch with where things come from, how things are made etc. At the Maker Faire mentioned by Fang below, I saw people of all ages agog as they watched people soldering, forging iron, creating a 3D printing design, etc. So before education tries to recreate Makerspaces they need to be creating links with existing initiatives. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Feb 16, 2014
  • i agree michael, there are so many consumers of things, and so few creators of things - the skills and tools to manually craft and make things are like lost arts. And yet seem to be important to sense of self, happiness, identity. But do we only value making things within our institutions if those things or our making skills can be commercialised? Are Makerspaces just a pipeline for graduates with employment skills in the design areas? Or are they actually useful as processes for engaging students in their learning, for motivating them to reflect and look at their strengths and skills and direct their energies accordingly, or are they actually bigger than that altogether - happiness engines, contributing to a healthier communities? - slambert slambert Feb 18, 2014
  • The markerspace philosophy is around building capacity in communities to create, make, break and play. In a place like Swinburne there are labs where students get to make, break and play with things but they tend to be tied to faculty. Makerspaces aim to be inclusive for all. - ktairi ktairi Feb 18, 2014
  • I think it will be interesting to see whether the Maker approach can spread from the hobby/school space and into HE to re-energise the idea of learners physically creating things as part of their experience, I'm astonished that more Computer Science/Info programmes are not using Pi and Arduino to make programming relevant and engaging to learners. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 20, 2014
  • Connection to virtual spaces to share, distribute or even sell the outputs of Making, e.g. websites like Etsy (www.etsy.com). Making is not just a craft or hobby, but the foundation of industrial or professional pathways for learners. - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 22, 2014
  • We need ways to involve a wider range of disciplines. The tendency is to think of engineering and design, but as well as room for business disciplines, the humanities and social sciences have much to contribute.- sherman.young sherman.young Feb 22, 2014
  • campus supported makerspaces provide opportunities to engage with the local community and promote academic study to those engaging with the makerspace. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 26, 2014

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

  • It is a progressive step beyond project-based learning, rooted in a more student-centred approach to creating. (- cpaterso cpaterso Feb 14, 2014)
  • At a minumum: a skills pipeline leading to employable and entrepreneurial design/engineering graduates, but it could be much more - envigorate creative practices outward to the community. - slambert slambert Feb 18, 2014
  • New lifelong learning skills enabling community to engage with arts; crafts; hacking and making. Potential for developing design thinking and creativity skills as mentioned above - ktairi ktairi Feb 18, 2014
  • Technology can provide opportunities to move creativity and arts into STEM models, i.e. STEAM approaches that integrate arts and sciences - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 22, 2014
  • Great for student engagement and articulating grad attributes in a really visible way. - sherman.young sherman.young Feb 22, 2014

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

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