Building Curricula for Makerspaces

What’s the difference between makerspaces and other trends in EdTech?

Well, in fact makerspaces don’t just represent one trend but rather all of them. That’s because these hybrid computer labs/art studios/machine shops can encompass any educational device or technology a maker might want to put into them. The sky’s the limit, and more schools and libraries are beginning to take notice and incorporate makerspaces into innovative curricula.

Makerspace

What happens in makerspaces?

Makerspaces are places where learners can make things. Students are encouraged to:

  • create
  • experiment
  • tinker
  • collaborate

In some labs, this act of creation may take the form of tech development. Students may learn to code and work together to design a piece of software. Perhaps that software goes on to power a piece of technology, such as a VR helmet or another wearable device. Maybe students will instead create their own objects, either through 3D printing or by embedding technology within more traditional mechanical manufacturing.

Whatever the scenario or the topic being explored, the philosophy behind makerspaces remains the same: to roll up your sleeves and use the tools at your disposal to create.

Why create makerspaces?

Many schools that have embraced makerspaces notice a marked increase in student engagement. Makerspaces are unique and fun, and they allow for new types of learning to take place. It will be up to administrators, curriculum designers and more to discover how best to build a pedagogy around the makerspace philosophy. This will likely need to embrace the ideal of open collaboration—the key to makerspaces is creating an environment that supports trying new things and sharing the results.

Makerspace pedagogy will also likely dovetail nicely with another growing trend: competency-based education. Just as competency-based programs reward students for demonstrating their abilities and achieving tangible progress, makerspaces allow for students to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting: The tools of makerspaces are computers and drones, not pens and spiral notebooks. Supporting curriculum, then, will likely be around completing a task.

Will makerspaces upend the way we think about education? They may not replace traditional classrooms, but they’re certainly likely to supplement more and more of them.

What do you think of makerspaces? What innovative tasks have you seen them used for? Answer in the comments below.

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