Fall Conference Roundtable Discussion


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During the NWAIS Fall Educators Conference, our team hosted a roundtable discussion to share with NWAIS educators what we've been working on, the goals and scope of our project, and solicit from the community the questions and interests around makerspaces and makerEd. In this post are notes from that roundtable discussion both for participants and for those of you who were interested but unable to join us. Did we miss anything in the notes? Please let us know in the comments!

 

We are not here to set the mold for how to implement maker on your campuses. It is our goal to act as a clearinghouse, to gather and cull through resources in our region and beyond, and to share our findings in order to help teachers who are trying to start a makerspace or implement maker projects. We discovered that when teachers do begin this process, they are at a loss for models and points of contact - our goal is to fill that need.

Here are some questions that came from participants and that we will work to address on our website/blog:

  • What does a makerspace look like? Is it a separate space? Is it integrated into the classroom/curriculum?

  • Are there any pictures of existing makerspaces?

  • What does makerEd look like in action, especially in our region?

  • How can we build meaningful relationships between schools and community makerspaces?

  • How did the existing makerspaces (at Open Window School, University Prep, etc.) come to be? What was the process/evolution? What challenges were overcome?

  • Where in the school day/curriculum does makerEd seem like a natural fit?

  • Where is makerEd already happening and how do we capitalize on that existing framework?

There were several common ideas that came through in our discussion that reflect the conversations our team is having.

  • The definition of makerEd and makerspaces is very flexible and fluid, and while that is a good thing, we can create some measure of consistency by establishing which specific tools, technology, practices lead to a productive and successful maker program.

  • It is helpful to have someone on campus with experience in makerEd in order to bridge connections between the available tools/tech and the existing curriculum (Adrienne fills this role at OWS).

  • There is a wealth of maker lessons/projects available online, but finding them and knowing that its relevant to your content is challenging.

  • There are tinkering camps/clubs and then there are maker lessons/projects that tie to the curriculum. Both models are viable, relevant, important - it depends on your objectives.

  • There are many tool lending libraries and community makerspaces that cater primarily to the adult community; the philosophy of these places is to bring people together to share, to create, to inspire - this is the mindset/philosophy that makerEd offers students.

  • MakerEd is based on student agency. Students may be taught how to use a tool and be asked to complete a specific task, but it is up to the individual student to discover HOW they will solve the problem.

  • Just as computer labs are disappearing as we integrate technology into the classroom, maybe dedicated makerspaces will be less relevant as the maker philosophy is more integrated into the classroom (still, not every student/teach will have their own laser printer).