Makerspaces, maker lab, mini makerspaces?

I’m currently catching up on my classes following a big conference held on my campus that I helped organize – and prepping for a forthcoming conference (on Friday). So this brief post is not fully-formed ideas that I want to record for next week’s writing goal planning meeting i’m holding for myself.

Makerspaces have become popular in higher ed in libraries and design and engineering schools. What can makerspaces and digital makerspaces bring to composition and writing studies? I’ve been exploring the ways creative making can support digital making in conference presentations – what does this mean for composition? Can I tie any of this back to ideas of teaching for transfer?

Mini makerspaces are interesting too – what happens when we move away from the formal structure of a makerspace? Makerspaces aim to not be ‘formal spaces’ – my use here is to indicate a designated space for the makerspace. Mini makerspaces seem to be mobile units that can be brought into classrooms to support specific learning. While more research is necessary, my approach to creative making in the classroom seems to closely resemble the set-up of a mini makerspace. My questions here – and these tie to my own use in the classroom – does bringing the mini makerspace into the classroom (instead of moving to a makerspace) change student perception? Change the support tied to transfer of knowledge? Since i’ve been working closely with librarians and information literacy – this idea of transfer when in the classroom versus moving the whole classroom could have implications for how we conduct library sessions.

Maker lab is a new term I ran across this week. I saw Digital Humanities Lab, Humanities Lab and Maker Lab in different articles. What I found of particular note with the use of “lab” is an emphasis on approaches to thinking NOT technologies. I love that approach. There were some labs and projects with incredibly low digital technology. The goal is to focus on asking questions, observing, questioning the world, experimenting, gathering data, and interpreting. All thinking Humanities majors excel at. The labs I read about started from independent studies and a quest for knowledge. Faculty asked students simple questions like “What are you interested in studying” then developed long-term projects from there.

So, this post with just information dump is to help me further theorize how I’m using Ozobots in my classroom to support composition learning. How do I develop a makerspace, or mini makerspace, or Composition Lab (I can create names too!) – how does that help support good writing?


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