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?

  • useful in professional disciplines - Engineering, agrisesearch etc - eg in developing prototyes - n.wright n.wright Sep 29, 2015
  • it's open-ended. while students may use makerspace for a course assignment, they are also able to use it for their own creative exploration and self-driven project. available for faculty and other community members to explore and make as well. this fits with trend in higher ed toward more personalization, student-driven learning, and hands-on application of learning. it also fits with the trends of design thinking, lean startup, entrepreneurship. - kvogt kvogt Oct 6, 2015 - helga helga Oct 6, 2015 - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 13, 2015 - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015
  • encourages students to think and solve problems. Encourages faculty to connect content to the real-world while allowing students to personalize and add meaning to content. - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 13, 2015
  • This fabulous learning resource/approach has, over the past couple of years, increasingly become so common on campuses (often within campus libraries) that it may have moved beyond being a horizon/Horizon technology. This doesn't mean everyone has a makerspace--far from it; it just means that it's quickly moving beyond the point of being a developing technology.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 14, 2015
  • The MakerSpace we are building for the West Houston Institute has an extremely broad focus. It will support programmatic activities in engineering, art, filmmaking, and computer science but it will also be a key entrepreneurial incubator in conjunction with our Center for Entrepreneurship.- tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015

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

  • in addition to filling a need to renovate and repurpose classroom space, makerspaces can enable the learning experience within any classroom to change to meet the needs of the future as well. it opens up curricular opportunities that may not have been available before. - kvogt kvogt Oct 6, 2015 - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 13, 2015
  • are there applications for makerspaces in the humanities and liberal arts? - kvogt kvogt Oct 6, 2015 I would say yes, definitely in areas such as history, art history, archeology, but I could also envision language/linguistics and literature when it comes to visualising/creating the subjects, patterns, models etc. that are being discussed - helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • makerspaces as incubators for student products and projects that can be funded by real businesses. - Sam Sam Oct 16, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015
  • I would call for some center of gravity (learning by doing?) that would make description about something more than classroom redesign. Maker Movement seems most intent on letting individual students and groups combine problem solving, critical thinking, making into some interesting hybrid driven by exploration and drive. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 20, 2015
  • Perhaps not one single space but connected spaces using the specialist resources of each space across a University or across a city for example laser cutting, smithing, wood, steel, electronics - a lifeline for smaller businesses and education to come together - real life work experience for students example http://www.wavemaker.org.uk - DaveP DaveP Oct 25, 2015
  • Makerspaces blur the boundary between information and physical objects -- or in other words they create an ability to cycle from digital to physical and back. - escience escience Oct 25, 2015

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

  • redefining what a scholar is and what a scholar does - kvogt kvogt Oct 6, 2015
  • redefining learning spaces. For example I spoke with a math faculty member that imagined a kitchen lab type area in her space to help in teaching math - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 13, 2015 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 14, 2015 - escience escience Oct 25, 2015
  • The MakerSpace signals a pivot from higher education's traditional, and increasingly outdated notion, of being in the business of selling content into one where skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking come to fore. Despite those that would turn these spaces into a welding training lab or something like, the MakerSpace concept resists this kind of programmatic pigeonholing. The one thing we have to be cautious of is not conflating the technology with the space itself. Making is an ethos, not a set of machines. Roland von Kurnatowski of one of our local MakerSpaces told me something that really stayed with me. He said, "The equipment is just here to get the people in the door." As long as we keep that in mind, MakerSpaces have the capacity to be catalysts for change across the institution.- cevetell cevetell Oct 22, 2015 - DaveP DaveP Oct 25, 2015 - escience escience Oct 25, 2015
  • The technology changes in the next few years will enable a shift from rapid fabrication of mostly inert objects to active objects (with embedded sensors, electronics, and, later, biological components). This is going to dramatically increase the space of applications for makerspaces, and will dramatically strengthen the direct linkage of rapid fabrication to data collection, localized/adaptive design, and physical/informational lifecycles. - escience escience Oct 25, 2015
  • Makerspaces are interdisciplinary -- they offer affordances of use to many disciplines, and require skills that are owned by none. Making can be seen as an extension of information literacy. - escience escience Oct 25, 2015

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