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. 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. The driving force behind makerspaces is rooted in the maker movement, a following comprised of artists, tech enthusiasts, engineers, builders, tinkerers, and anyone else with a passion for making things. Makerspaces are intended to appeal to people of all ages, and are founded on openness to experiment, iterate, and create. 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. A recent addition to makerspaces has been the introduction of virtual reality (VR), which eliminates limitations to physical space by harnessing 3D imagery to simulate a 360 degree view of an environment; those on the cutting edge are anticipating the design of digital makerspaces equipped with VR. Proponents of makerspaces for education highlight the benefit of engaging learners in creative, higher-order problem solving through hands-on design, construction, and iteration.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - ashfordrowe ashfordrowe Aug 8, 2016 It seems as though the notion of 'makerspace(s)' is one that is beginning to gain significant traction in education. I think that it is an increasingly important innovation and, in many ways, highly consistent with the requirements of an more IT literate student (and graduate!) population.
  • - deborah.lee deborah.lee Aug 18, 2016As a librarian, I think this is a very important development both for academic libraries and higher education. It pulls in the literature on engagement and learning. And as a movement, it is redefining both physical and virtual learning spaces.
  • MakerSpaces, in my opinion, is one of the most important technological advances in higher education. They allow students to explore "in a real way" instead of a "theoretical way" knowledge that they have acquired in courses. 3D printing and scanning in conjunction with other activities allow students to grasp concepts more easily, and at the same time, allow students to innovate. Although one can imagine a MakerSpaces as just a room with printers and scanners (and routers and plotters, etc.), in my opinion it is really a system, where those machines are just one element. For example, legal advice for students is required such that intellectual property (of their products) can be protected. Similarly, merchandise advice is also required such that their products can reach some markets. It is clearer now that we need to help students to develop abilities that allow them to solve problems using different and complementary knowledge, which implies to work with students of other disciplines. MakerSpaces promotes this kind of interaction. - jreinoso jreinoso Sep 7, 2016 Completely agree! - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • Physical manifestation of digitally-created objects is an amazing concept, and the technology needed has tumbled in price to the point where it is easily affordable, and is useful in all sorts of ways from medicine through to art and design. However, dedicated and accessible-to-all makerspaces sadly seem to still be way off for us. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 16, 2016
  • Makerspaces seems like a great opportunity for students to be creative, while learning about some of the latest technologies. Though, it will be critical to be able to conform teams and projects coming from the broadest disciplinar spectre possible, as creativity and collaboration -and therefore innovation- potentiates itself when different domains intersect on the same problem. - fledezma fledezma Sep 21, 2016
  • With limited budgets, Makerspaces have provided an opportunity for cross-departmental collaboration, where resources can be shared in order to achieve a common goal. However, I feel that better guidance on how to establish a Makerspace is important. They're 'cool', but in my opinion are too often associated with 3D Printing, I think the concept of a space dedicated to Creating and Making within any domain must remain at the forefront of this experience. People who want to establish a Makerspace, should not feel compelled to purchase a 3D printer in order for it to be considered as one - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • Makerspaces and the technology inherent to them typically encourage attempting to do something you're not already familiar with, figuring out which parts of your attempts work and which don't, and then trying again. This approach to ideating and iterating on an idea is sometimes lost in other sectors of education where students feel pressure to turn in the most perfect and refined work they can create. In makerspaces failure should be encouraged. Failure teaches students more. Failure-based learning is wildly different from the pedagogical approach of traditional academics. Makerspaces encourage experimentation and critical thinking and push students out of their comfort zone.- rlw32 rlw32 Sep 30, 2016
  • The faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa developed a Makerspaces entirely run by students, and, interestingly enough, open on week-ends to the neighborhood community, so that students, companies, neighborhood associations and individuals can profit from each other's experience and perspectives. Creating, developing together is a nice way to integrate even more the community into the academic curriculum. http://engineering.uottawa.ca/makerspace - agermain agermain Oct 1, 2016
  • Agree completely that makerspaces are a very important and exciting part of what is happening in learning today; my only concern within the context of the Horizon Project is that makerspaces have already reached levels of use commensurate with what we consider to be "mainstream adoption," so really are no longer within any of our projected (future-looking) horizon time lines. I see them on many campuses I visit--particularly within campus libraries--and suspect increasingly large numbers of learners are gaining access to them when they use their local public libraries, too. - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 3, 2016

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

  • - helga helga Aug 9, 2016 Not a new theme, but a comment on the above description: I´ve always considered the "making" aspect mostly as a physical, "real life" counterbalance to virtual or IT-centered activities. From that viewpoint, I find the development of digital makerspaces both an interesting addition but also a move back from hands-on working with actual materials.
  • - MarwinBritto MarwinBritto Aug 9, 2016 One suggestion would be to include the importance of developing robust policy for makerspacers since the devices can be used to create inappropriate and illegal items.
  • An efective make space is much more than just a room with 3D Printers and Scanners (or VR), and I see that the descriptión could include a more systematic description, including some activities that should be include as legal advice for intellectual property protection, merchandise advise for reaching certain markets, or the instruction of innovation methodologies as Design Thinking or TRIZ.- jreinoso jreinoso Sep 7, 2016 - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • Makerspaces foster collaboration and creativity. Hands-on can mean tangible builds (makerbots, etc.) and digital tools and software (like Adobe). - courtnem courtnem Sep 14, 2016
  • I think the programming that accompanies the establishment of a Makerspace, is as important as the technology. I've been involved in creating two Makerspaces (not necessarily successfully), and I've come to realize the importance of identifying the type of workshops you want to offer, prior to identifying the technology that will be added to the space. - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • We're exploring the concept of fluencies in this area. We recognize and openly tell students and faculty that the technology they are learning to use in our Maker Commons is very unlikely to be a technology you encounter in a job setting (with some exceptions). The experiences in the Maker Commons prepares students to be adaptable and think critically about the technology they use and the technology that hasn't even been invented yet but will be critically important to their future workplace. How do they make tech do what they want? Even opening their eyes to the idea that tech doesn't have to do just the thing that it says on the box or from the manufacturer - that there are other paths to take with it - this is a revelation to many.- rlw32 rlw32 Sep 30, 2016
  • As I explain above with the example of the Markespaces at the University of Ottawa, this concept of enabling collaborative creation, of development of tangible objects, of prototyping, testing, redoing etc. while involving the neighborhood community in the process enables deeper and more diverse learning. - agermain agermain Oct 1, 2016
  • An important element is building employability and life skills - craft, design, pooling skills and resources, sharing knowledge, incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, ART, Engineering, Mathematics. - DaveP DaveP Oct 2, 2016
  • As we have developed our MakerSpaces over the last year we have become acutely aware of a dichotomy between what I refer to as Creation Spaces and Production Spaces. Creation Spaces are explicitly geared toward disruptive activities including workshops but most importantly they are extremely open. They are at root Augmenting Human Intellect (Engelbart) through the mode of technology. They are idea-enabling spaces. The problem occurs when they get hit by classes who have an assignment requiring 3D printing. Our D-Lab was overrun last year by a single Engineering class of 15 students trying to print out a final assignment. They tied up the lab for three straight days, making it unusable as a creation space. The solution, as I see it, is to implement Production Spaces to support that kind of activity. MakerBot has is somewhat misnamed Innovation Centers, which provide a good model for this kind of Production Space. We're still in the early stages of defining this technology but I am wary of using the term "MakerSpace" to refer to anything other than Creation Spaces. We need a different term for the other kind of space. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016

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

  • - helga helga Aug 9, 2016 As mentioned under (2), for me the process of hands-on making is a very valuable and enriching experience especially in largely digitalised fields of work. I.e. to understand a subject matter both from the virtual/simulated side as well as from the actual look and feel of it. I agree. - jreinoso jreinoso Sep 7, 2016
    add your response here
  • One of the most beneficial outcomes of having Makerspaces in universities, will be it's effect on early-fostering the entrepreneurship spirit among students, as they will be able to complete product design processes, taking them from mere ideas to functional prototypes. - fledezma fledezma Sep 21, 2016 - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • I'd also say the opportunity for cross departmental collaboration. Find some departments or schools that want to share resources and work with an administration to find a space and offer experiences that are applicable to the curriculum and the overall concept of making and creating. I also think there's opportunities for universities to collaborate with the local community as part of this movement - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • Bringing Seymour Papert and Idit Harel's Constructionism - http://www.papert.org/articles/SituatingConstructionism.html - fully into the range of learning approaches used across disciplines in higher ed.- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 2, 2016
  • See my notes in the IoT section for a discussion of the impact of customizable (i.e., MakerSpace-created) technologies on what we do and how we teach. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016

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

  • - MarwinBritto MarwinBritto Aug 9, 2016 Georgia Tech has an "Invention Studio" which is a student-run makerspace that provides free training to anyone at Georgia Tech. See http://inventionstudio.gatech.edu/
  • - deborah.lee deborah.lee Aug 18, 2016Mississippi State University has The Factory, which is a collaborative project that brings campus units and equipment together to provide makerspace environments. The main wiki is located at http://ecenter.msstate.edu/maker/index.php/The_Factory; the MSU Libraries maintains a guide as well at
  • I am the director of a digital makerspace at USC Annenberg: http://www.AnnenbergDL.org. Our idea combines digital building (Adobe, WordPress, etc.) along with a Digital Detox focus where students play with arts and crafts to inspire their creativity. - courtnem courtnem Sep 14, 2016 I LOVE the concept of a Digital Detox - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • We do have a makerspace in Leeds, although, sadly, it is not actually at our University: - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Sep 16, 2016https://leedshackspace.org.uk/
  • East Central University in Oklahoma has launched the Pitsco Maker Space Lab specifically to integrate the maker movement into their teacher training programs. Story in Campus Technology - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Sep 21, 2016
  • I've been working to establish a Makerspace at the two locations, and I've been impressed by the workshops and programming at the http://westportlibrary.org/services/maker-space and http://fergusonlibrary.org/youth/makerspace/ I will add that we're working closely with the latter, with some of our students providing the workshops and programming. We'll also be collaborating to on a Global Game Jam with the latter. I think this demonstrates the community aspect that van expand beyond the campus.
    - matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Sep 24, 2016
  • I manage the Maker Commons at Penn State http://makercommons.psu.edu This is located in our main University Libraries location. The focus is on 3D printing with a farm of 34 printers that accepts remote submissions. These printers can be accessed by any Penn State campus across Pennsylvania and the prints shipped to a students' home campus library. This is offered free of charge to students and faculty. Rapid Prototyping and the Internet of Things is also explored in the Invention Studio - another facet of the Maker Commons. Here technology like littleBits, Philips HUE bulbs, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Makey Makeys, LEGO, and more are explored to help students quickly prototype and test ideas. Maker Commons staff partner with faculty to develop making assignments in classes and disciplines not normally associated with the practice (English Technical Writing or Kinesiology courses, as just two examples).- rlw32 rlw32 Sep 30, 2016
  • University of Ottawa Richard L'abbé Makerspace http://engineering.uottawa.ca/makerspace - agermain agermain Oct 1, 2016
  • Leicester Hackspace at De Montfort University http://leicesterhackspace.org.uk - DaveP DaveP Oct 2, 2016
  • The D-Lab at HCC http://tech.nwc.hccs.edu/dlab/ - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016
  • The West Houston Institute http://hccs.edu/institute - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 26, 2016
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