Since this is my last chance to post here for the semester, I want to take the time to be a little less verbose, and instead show everyone some of the places I’ve been in my digital travels in this class. It’s been a blast of a journey, and I want to be able to share all I can. I believe in the power of engaged, self-directed, hands-on learning. It opens up something inside you. You feel powerful when you have the option to learn about something you are personally invested in, and it makes you want to learn more. A National Geographic article says it well:
“These [places], full of various raw materials and tools for students’ experimentation, promote innovation through play. They also provide safe places for students to take risks, experiment, and learn through trying (a.k.a. “fail”).”
Information and knowledge is like a web—nothing in this world exists in a void. Everything is connected. And the more you know, the more you realize there is to know. Makerspaces facilitate that kind of learning, and hopefully engage any who want to take those steps. It’s a personally guided tour to discovery, and that is something worth pursuing.
In this class, I’ve seen the value of personal ownership in learning and how transformative that can be. And I loved the level of engagement we had and the different perspectives throughout the semester from my colleagues. Factoring in gender and ethnic barriers was something I am passionate about, but had not considered until another student had brought that up, but is now certainly on my horizon. I loved making my chainmail. It may still be fresh in my mind, but that one did stand out. I loved seeing what other people created (though I think pictures should be a requirement. I really wanted to see what everyone else had made!). I think I took a stance against the $11,000 “beginner’s makerspace” article the most, and oddly, even though it wasn’t required text but was quoted by others frequently, the “I am not a maker article” simply for the gap of logic given that “making” required something physical. A really interesting perspective that I don’t think was pursued enough was how to evaluate the “success” of a makerspace, and like the innovated thinking required in implementing such a space, if our evaluative practices must also undergo a paradigm shift to see a deeper, broader world out there (like the girl “chatting” and “updating” facebook was dismissed as using the space, when in fact, I argue, she was). A look at how to be inclusive and reach out/welcome as many constituents as possible would have also been nice, so that we aren’t unintentionally catering to a certain demographic while excluding others.
But onto the list! Here are some of the little gems I’ve found along the way throughout this course.
A Kids/Beginner’s Makerspace – on the cheap and highly versatile
A basic step up (in price and technology) in Creating a Mini Makerspace, from Scholastic
An awesome list from the Colorado State Library’s Library and Creation Learning Centers on Digitial Creation Software, much of which is absolutely free (no joke).
The Library as Incubator Project – Ideas, community, collaboration.
Create – a makerspace listserv.
MakerBridge –“ a community for those interested in the maker movement, especially in schools and libraries.”
A real proposal of how one library system is going forward in makerspaces
A useful list of tips to starting a makerspace in a school (or libraries)
No room for a permanent makerspace? Or maybe you don’t have enough believers? What about a cheap pop-up makerspace?
A few neat, practical ideas from the Tinkering Studio