In order to promote my long form article on Makerspaces in Education, I have created three short form pieces of varying lengths that can be used in different contexts on the web.
Schools of Education seeking to meet the needs of an evolving K-12 landscape should incorporate Makerspaces into their curriculum. Makerspaces can inspire educators to explore methods of hands-on learning, through exposure to emerging technologies. These learning environments encourage the 21st century skills kids will need to succeed – including creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.
As our society evolves, so should the focus of our public school system. Rather than teaching kids specific content, we need to teach kids how to become thinkers. We must provide kids with the tools to create, collaborate, and problem solve. These skills require a different type of learning environment, one which supplies the space and the tools to design, tinker, and build. Makerspaces present the opportunity for kids to come together and work through problems, using traditional craft materials and innovative technology tools. These creative learning spaces will set kids up for success in our modern world.
Society is changing. No longer do we value the ability to recall content – rather our future depends on individuals who are able to think creatively, develop innovative solutions through interdisciplinary collaboration, and leverage digital tools to solve problems. Traditional classroom spaces rarely provide these opportunities – therefore the environment in which we teach kids must change too.
Makerspaces, collaborative classrooms filled with craft and technology supplies, invite children to explore, analyze, and experiment in a hands-on and supported environment. Makerspaces offer an opportunity to challenge conventional methods of teaching, while providing scaffolded learning experiences to develop the skills of individuals. These spaces encourage children to learn what they will need to be successful in our modern society by engaging them in tactile experiences that expand their knowledge of math, science, engineering, coding, and art.
As schools across the country look to incorporate Makerspaces into their buildings, Schools of Education, responsible for training teacher candidates, should also develop Makerspaces within their own campuses. Exposing teacher candidates to emerging technology tools and methods of collaborative learning can accelerate the inclusion of these learning environments at the K-12 level. Teachers will need to be prepared to utilize these rapidly evolving technologies, including programmable robots, wearable electric circuits, and 3D printed artifacts. Teachers must be empowered to lead students through the design thinking process and engage in iterative design to arrive at innovative solutions.
The problems of our modern world will require flexible thinkers who can combine art, science and technology, and who have an understanding of the design process as a tool to arrive at solutions to complex problems. These types of thinkers will not grow out of traditional, lecture-based classrooms – therefore we need to begin incorporating Makerspace experiences into K-12 environments to expand the skillset of the graduates of tomorrow.