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?

  • Althought Maker Spaces are probably seen as nerd spaces for a small segement of the student population interested in electronics and comptuers, I would argue that they have the potential to do much more. The help teach students how to move from consumers to people actively involved in the design and creation of things. This lesson in ownership, respnsibility, creativity, curisoity and learning seems to be a hallmark of the university. - david.thomas david.thomas Oct 11, 2013
  • Maker Spaces mark an important cultural moment as they contribute to fostering curiosity and open ended thinking, which is so frequently shut down in the United States' K12 educational system. Moreover, many of the hand-created disciplines/classes have been eliminated from mainstream curriculum over time. Maker spaces provide a return to the value of the handmade, at a time when our society is more digital than ever. Maker spaces are also interdisciplinary, more like real world learning. - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013
  • Need more of these new spaces outside our 4-walled classrooms. These new learning spaces can be part of the curriculum/assignment...pushing students to take charge of an learning space area/maker space. Authentic assessment: collaboration, at what level do others engage with their space, is it environmentally friendly, is it current, etc. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 13, 2013
  • Makerspaces will be an important new role for libraries. Often combined with 3D printing. So libraries become a place where you play with new technologies. And you can print out your work in3D. - rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Oct 16, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013
  • Really, really important to tell a story about makerspaces that is broader than just growth of 3D printing. (The speed of 3D Printing at present will leave it a maker novelty rather than the bread and butter leveraged by whole-class projects.) Low-cost computing from RaspberryPi and Arduino boards combined with custom designed components produced on a CNC router, laser cutter, or sewing machine can yield the ultimate inter-disciplinary sandbox where academic disciplines come together to play. Time-honored crafts meet cutting-edge tech to blend old and new. Prototyping tools like cardboard and pipe cleaners are as essential as final, finished products to the ethos of the space. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 21, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 28, 2013
  • Definitely relevant because we now conceive academic libraries and learning spaces even more as places where knowledge is made/produced/constructed not just discovered or received. - holeton holeton Oct 25, 2013
  • Makerfare and Makerspaces is more than the resurgence of "hands-on learning". Rooted in Seymour Paperts' research on constructionsim, the maker concept combines technology, engineering and problem solving. As many have said in this wiki, this form of learning taps into so many areas. There may be some new energy focusing on career technical education melding more traditional trades into computer based or technology enhanced fields of employment. - cchandler cchandler Oct 27, 2013cchandler

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

  • 2010 IBM Global CEO survey: creativity selected as most crucial factor for future success - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013
  • Perhaps there are some fine lines between the Do-it-Yourself Movement (DIY, Anya Kamenetz) and Makerspaces - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 13, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013
  • There is a "build it and they will come" ethos to the Makerspace concept that needs to be looked into. Fully programmed Makerspace does just end up being a lab in the service of curriculum. But lacking any structure, I wonder if the spaces will thrive over time? - david.thomas david.thomas Oct 16, 2013
  • We are facing a significant definitional challenge as we plan our space. For one thing, there are a lot of different version of even the term out there and I have had lots of people come to me in the last six months with "look what new thing I've discovered" only to find out that it's nothing more than a slightly different version of a Maker Space. We also have a broad constituency now looking to use the space we have planned. So what exactly goes in a Maker Space? Does it vary by use case scenario? We have a lot of those. I think this technology, while very exciting, is still in its infancy with regard to defining what it is and how it looks. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 17, 2013
  • Timescales between innovation and product launch are reduced significantly and the barriers to entry from idea to a thing or artifact are lowered substantially. Digital addittive manufacturing systems like 3D printing and Digitally controlled subtractive systems like laser cutting have made things that were once difficult to produce easy.- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013
  • The description suggests that openness and access are an essential characteristic of makerspaces yet the reality is that many maker-type spaces have limited access to particular audiences (e.g. product realization labs or other dept.-specific labs) or elite/wealthy clientele (e.g., TechShop). So I would construct that more as a problem or issue to be addressed in this domain.- holeton holeton Oct 25, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Fostering an intrinsic passion for creativity in learners is a move towards preparing them for being successful contributors in a global, mobile, digital society that will continuously need new, transformative ideas. Individuals learn to collaborate, problem solve, and see complex problems through to completion. - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013 I agree that creativity is an integral part of this process.
  • Creating these new learning ecosystems allow students to nurture their passion and search for activities that engage/inform others about their topic. This space allows for students to be 'actionable innovators.' Moves 'design thinking' in an action format, not a textbook discussion. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 13, 2013
  • Don't disagree that project-driven "learning by doing" or "design thinking" models come along at just the right time with 21st Century Skills conversation and STEM or STEAM discussions. Maker Education Initiative and MakerCorps projects helping shape this discussion. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 21, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013
  • The ability to rapidly prototype, test and gather data, revised, test, revise and then produce will shirk the timeline of traditional R&D models for engineering and allow universities to become more direct incubators and producers of products. Manufacturing can be situated in more close proximity and coordination with idea generators like universities, and production can be more local to communities, remaking domestic manufacturing, (Making in America, From Innovation to Market, Berger 2013)- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013
  • What Joseph and the others said :) - holeton holeton Oct 25, 2013

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