In February, my students in the Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology course (EME610) and myself visited and toured The HIVE. Then, this past April a group of students and myself attended the Gulf Coast MakerCon event. Both of this activities were an attempt to learn more about Makerspaces and the Maker movement as learning spaces. In all honesty, I initially thought it was all about 3D printers. What I learned since then is that Makerspaces really focused on design thinking. Some spaces are technology heavy (hardware and software), others are more about crafting, others are about innovative ideas, and the lists goes on. Basically there are various views as to what constitutes a markerspace.
From talking to those involved in the markerspace movement here in Tampa, I also learned that the term Makerspace at times seems too crafty. A few weeks ago I toured a school in Tampa in which there are different Makerspaces for students in different grade levels. It was interesting to talk to instructors from the different grade levels. One instructor in particular expressed some concern over the term “makerspace.” He though that the maker movement should be more focused on design thinking. He was very interested in having students master design thinking with simple tools like paper and pencil before even allowing them to use more advance technology. This instructor also expressed concern with the total lack of guidance in some makerspaces. I consider myself an academic novice on makerspaces (as I am still learning and educating myself on the topic) but I do agree with the notion that design thinking requires guidance and supervision. I practice this in my systematic instructional design course. The graduate students and myself spend a significant amount of time going over different elements of their instructional design projects.
Another interesting aspect of Makerspaces that I learned about recently, while attending AERA, is the lack of diversity. One of the “working poster sessions” (we need more of this at AERA — great session format) I attended was on makerspaces reaching diverse audiences which include individuals in different genders, socio economic status, and cultural backgrounds. There were a total of 7 or 8 posters in the session (below is a screenshot from the AERA online program). If you are interested and want to learn more about inclusive makerspaces, I strongly recommend reading the abstracts and following up with the authors.