For Instructors

This page is for faculty who wish to better understand the maker movement, how it might incorporate well into their courses, and how it increases student success at all levels. If there is any additional information that you would like, feel free to contact atkinstechsupport@uncc.edu.

What is a makerspace?

In the most basic sense of the term, a makerspace is a physical space where people can go to engage in making, but the maker mindset, which makes up the space, values tinkering, discovery, and positive failure. It is a place where people can go to experiment with how things work and use previously inaccessible tools to develop a project.

How do I get started?

Seek makerspace assistance with your course materials.

Matching the values stated in your syllabus and assignment sheets with makerspace values can help students understand how to approach their work and will be an indication of how you value the maker mindset. Shifting existing projects to meet maker expectations can be an easy way of gradually incorporating making into your course and experimenting with its outcomes.

Work with your liaison librarian.

Since they already know much of what is happening in your department’s classes, your liaison librarian can connect the types of research already happening in your classes with possible makerspace uses.

Attend or request a faculty workshop.

Seeing individual help is always an option, but when many faculty within a department are interested in the opportunity, the makerspace coordinators can develop an ideation session for the department in which faculty might reconsider an assignment, project, or activity, and how they can use the makerspace or a maker mentality to enhance it. When less time is available, coordinators could attend department meetings to introduce faculty to these same concepts.

How do I incorporate this into my class?

Encourage a maker mentality.

    Value positive failure, discovery attempts, and the articulation of process work. Students often think about the end result, while reflecting on the process can be more helpful to troubleshooting their work.

Grading

    Your assessment strategies will change when you move from directive-based assessment to a more fluid maker-based practice (Lake, 1994). For some, this may mean offering more specific feedback about different parts of a project. Others may find themselves altogether reconsidering what they are valuing from an assignment. Consider assessing concepts such as critical thinking, problem solving, revision, and other overarching concepts that will be manifest in student work.

Designing the Learning Experience

Working from a maker mindset means that you are “creat[ing] the conditions for learning,” rather than “prescrib[ing a] learning experience” (Brahms as qtd. In Schlageter, 2017). This can, in fact, help students of all levels learn at their own paces (Burke, 2015), but comes with a different type of learning. One of the most challenging concepts for most instructors will be the difference in learning rates and concepts. Kurti, Kurti, and Fleming (2014) show that engaging in a maker mindset in the classroom means “recogniz[ing] that some peripheral concepts may not be learned by all students. Yet students faced with a common challenge to design their own unique solutions will naturally come to some common understanding” (par. 5). This type of interaction with concepts will ensure that students will be able to transfer their understanding of their (interactions) to new situations. However, they also assert that  a well-planned design [will] allow students to discover the concepts the teacher intended them to learn all along” (par. 4). These methods also encourage collaboration and give students a chance to learn from other students as they develop team-building skills and consider alternate solutions.

Distance Education

Distance Education students can take advantage of making as well, but due to the location of resources, this can look very different than in a course that takes place on campus. One option is to develop a virtual makerspace that looks much the same as a learning management system (LMS). Instead of including directive modules that lead to a predetermined outcome or product, using the LMS as a virtual makerspace can offer collections of programs, apps, presentation interfaces, and so forth, allowing students options in using their own ideas to work toward a certain understanding or outcome (Loertscher, 2015)

 

References

Burke, J. (2015). Making sense: Can makerspaces work in academic libraries? Proceedings from the Association of College and Research Libraries. Portland, OR.

Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D.L., and Fleming, L. (2014). The philosophy of educational makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 41(5).

Lake, K. (2001). Integrated Curriculum. School Improvement Research Series. Retrieved from: http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/IntegratedCurriculum.pdf

Loertscher, D. V. (2015). The virtual makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 43(1), 50-51.

Schlageter, B. (2017). Groundbreaking framework and free online training available for creating makerspaces in museums and libraries. Childrens’ Museum Pittsburgh. Retrieved from: https://pittsburghkids.org/pages/groundbreaking-framework-and-free-online-training-available-for-creating-makerspaces-and-libraries