Makerspaces

“The role of the teacher is to create conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge” ~ Seymour Papert

new invention

“New Invention” by Andrew Martin, UK (CC0, public domain)

Introduction: “On a personal note…”

As a child, I was nurtured in a “makerspace” environment.  Of course, we didn’t use the term “makerspace” back then; it wasn’t fashionable jargon in the 70’s and 80’s. Yet, makerspace conditions were always present during my childhood. I had access to a workshop full of tools, a sewing box full of scraps, a garage full of possibilities and numerous other resources inviting creativity and imaginative making.  I also had makerspace role models.  My parents and grandparents were constantly building, re-modelling, creating and making things.  In fact, many of my favorite childhood gifts were built, sewn, crocheted, or hammered into existence. This childhood influence has significant bearing on my makerspace outlook today.  Intuitively, I know that makerspaces can provide powerful, authentic and educationally relevant experiences for students. I believe that my early makerspace experiences developed my own capacity for creativity and innovation. This is one of my personal reasons for promoting makerspaces in school libraries.

Michelle 055

Demonstrating the “tools” of the new Librarianship!

Beyond personal experience and intuitive knowing, I recognize the need for research and professional literature to support beliefs, to aid understanding, and provide a sound rationale for undertaking makerspaces in schools. My project and process for this ETAD 898 course will explore the emergence of makerspaces and participatory learning in both elementary and secondary school libraries, examining their historical evolution, their current manifestations, as well as recent research and other literature focusing on their effects and outcomes. In preparing my annotated bibliography for this course, I intend to identify and integrate the contributions of some leading authors in makerspace literature. Furthermore, in addition to a professional blog, a final outcome for my project will be the creation of a rationale for developing a makerspace in a school library.  As I intend to create a makerspace in both my elementary and secondary school libraries, I require a solid background in the “why” of makerspaces before moving forward with such a venture. I will eventually incorporate this rationale into a visual presentation (Google Slides or Slideshare) for the purpose of informing and engaging an audience of administrators, educators and parents about the nature of makerspaces and their value in school libraries.

Key Questions – the Inquiry:

There are several key questions that I hope to answer throughout this independent study. These questions will also guide the scope and limits of my source selection.   School library services and programs are being reinvented to address the needs of today’s learners and makerspaces have become the newest feature of this reinvention.  However, some may suggest that makerspaces are just the latest fad in education. Therefore, I pose the following questions: How did makerspaces emerge on the educational horizon? How did school libraries become the hosting platforms for makerspaces and what is the justification for this? Do makerspaces have lasting value; what kind of longevity can we anticipate from such endeavors? Do they provide sufficient benefit to justify the time, effort and financial investment required to develop and maintain them? What specific educational (and other) benefits do students and school communities gain from makerspaces?

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