“Students who understand the innovation process and develop traits that successful innovators possess will have a distinct advantage when they enter the workforce.”The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces
Last year, a wonderful member of my 5th grade team planned a career fair for our students. One of the volunteers was a recruiter for Worksource. In his presentation he told us that 65% of our students will be working in a job that doesn’t exist right now. I remember being so shocked at that number! And while my students were amazed at the possibilities, I have to admit it made me a little nervous. How do we get our students to possess the traits that will have them be successful with their future jobs, when we don’t even know what those jobs will be? Well, ISTE Student Standard 4 is focused on the Innovative Designer and gives us some guidance for how we can help prepare our students:
ISTE 4 – Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
4a – Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
4b – Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
4c – Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
4d – Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
How as educators, can we encourage innovation in students?
My search led me to an incredibly insightful piece of writing, Here’s how you teach innovative thinking. Team ISTE writes about the shift from the information-age into the innovation-age and how students will need to have traits that will help them fit into this age. “Many innovative companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Instagram did not exist when their current employees were in grade school.” They go on to talk about the key concepts of teaching innovation:
- Students will need the ability to collaborate with “collective intelligence”
- Students will need to be lifelong learners to keep up with the ever changing available answers
- Students will need to develop a sense of metacognition to evaluate the way they think
They also note the need for 5 specific job types: makers, coders, inventors, entrepreneurs and authors. This led me to the idea of maker space… so the research continues!
Thankfully, there is an abundance of resources about makerspaces and specifically how you can use them in the classroom! Quite a few articles mentioned that the idea of makerspaces help students to learn through constructionism. This is a term I wasn’t extremely familiar with it, but I found out that it a term that is synonymous with the term “constructivism”. In Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning, the authors defines Constructivism as, “an approach to learning that holds that people actively construct or make their own knowledge and that reality is determined by the experiences of the learner”.
Learning about constructivism helped me to relate the concept to the more basic idea of having students learn through play! What a fun idea. My next stop was an article titled The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces.
I learned that makerspace for education is meant to challenge students to look at the same problem, and while they may have different approaches to solve the problem, they will come to similar conclusions. Makerspaces enable students to work through the problem in their own way, while also having the ability to work collaboratively. I also came to see that a main goal of makerspaces is for students to bounce ideas off of one another, in a hope that some may rise to be the teacher and lead the others to one conclusion.
Now that I understood what the concept of makerspace is, how do you create one? Well, Kurti, Kurti, and Fleming gave us a great breakdown of how educators can get started!
The last piece of establishing an educational makerspace is to understand the main guiding principles of the makerspaces. There are 3 key principles that will help students to be success:
- It’s OK to fail
- Breaking things is not a cardinal sin
- Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
I understand why makerspaces are gathering such popularity in schools! I’d love to hear your thoughts and makerspace success and trials! Comment below to share.
Elliott, S.N., Kratochwill, T.R., Littlefield Cook, J. & Travers, J. (2000). Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College.
ISTE Connects. (2016, January 19). Here’s how you teach innovative thinking. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=651
Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8-11.