The Doer Who Learns: The Makerspace Librarians' Handbook

"For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing," said Aristotle. Or, more simply, the doer who learns. As a writer in the education field, and I trace my lineage back to those first book reports in third grade, I have been learning by writing for many years. So I must admit to some concern when I saw arts (did I mention I flunked art in kinder?) and crafts see a resurgence in schools, a contra-decima to the establishment of the Common Core as Chris Aviles suggests in his article which I explored earlier.

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As I have written more about makerspaces, experienced it firsthand, I realize that we are moving quickly to the digitization of arts and craft experiences. Making things from junk, then digitizing the creation, resulting in a 3D printing that is functional, well, that moves the experience of creating down the road. Makers appear an innovation on what humans have been doing for years--hunting, gathering, and making stuff.
Disclaimer: This is the first of several blog entries featuring this book. ALA approached me with a copy of the book, asking me to review it. I received no payment for this review. I retain full editorial rights over my content and any quoted content is indicated. And, I wrote this blog entry, and will offer the book as a resource at the next makerspace I attend facilitated by my colleague, Peggy Reimers (@preimers)

The Source

In a new book published by the American Library Association (ALA), #the makerspace_librarian's sourcebook, edited by Ellyssa Kroski, I find myself overawed again by the scope of possibility. When you consider what teachers teach, students learn, and the yawning chasm between that incomplete experience and what life offers, what the marketplace demands, this sourcebook sends a powerful message:
This hands-on sourcebook...includes everything libraries need to know about the major topics, tools, and technologies relevant to makerspaces today. [It]...delves into 11 of the most essential technologies and tools...found in makerspaces, ranging from 3D printers, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and wearable electronics to CNC, Legos, drones and circuitry kits and includes an assortment of project ideas that are ready to implement.
For the sake of variety, I decided to do a quick skim of the book to see what useful nuggets might reveal themselves, half submerged in the rapid flow of text and quotes, 400 pages long. Here are some of my take-aways of this must-have textbook for schools, teachers, librarians and administrators eager to fundamentally understanding the maker movement and implement it in their schools.
[I've tried to put my own remarks in square brackets to distinguish from straight quotes or excerpts from the book.]

My Notes

  1. The book is divided into multiple sections, including:
    1. Creating the Library Makerspace
    2. Makerspace Materials, Tools and Technologies
    3. Looking Ahead
  2. Creating the Library Makerspace
    1. Chapter 1 - Makers create things, ideas, and concepts (Cherie Bronkar)
      1. A typical academic makerspace would include 3D printers, programmable electronics, digital microscopes, video equipment, large format printers, and other items that add to the institution's curriculum.
      2. A space like this gives students endless possibilities to put their education into practice.
      3. How to get started without funding:
        1. Paper crafts like origami, book art (using withdrawn books), creating apps
        2. The makerspace movement need not rely on high-priced tech.
        3. Making can be as simple as featuring a building contest with Legos or hosting something more technical like a hackathon. 
        4. Students can make and display dioramas, science projects, crafts, and jewelry along the line of friendship bracelets.
        5. Use computers and host training to help students create videos on their phones and upload them to free video editing apps, run a contest for the best Vine [or Snapchat or Instagram Story], create a school YouTube site, create funny video spoofs of a book the class has read
      4. The cost of makerspaces is explored, and include equipment lists. You'll have to read the book to see the components, but here's an approximate cost:
        1. Tech-focused makerspace starter kit: $3,300
        2. Bigger Budget Tech-Focused Makerspace Starter Kit: $21,000
        3. Media - Video Focused Makerspace Starter Kit - $7200
        4. Media - Sound-Focused Makerspace Starter Kit - $7500
        5. Low Budget Elem School Focused Kit - $500-$1000
        6. Dream budget-Milling/Power Equipment List - $30K-$50K
      5. [You know, as I look these lists over, there is a lot of cost-savings possible if we disregard proprietary software titles (e.g. Final Cut Pro) and use free open source tools (e.g. Shotcut).]
      6. An effective way to learn is to create training materials for users while you're learning. [Great tip!]
      7. Usage policies and planning your makerspace are also covered
    2. Chapter 2 - Pedagogy and Prototyping in Library Makespaces
      1. This chapter was authored by Laura Costello, Meredith Powers and Dana Haugh
      2. [Some fascinating approaches and quotes included for each!]:
        1. Active Learning: 
          1. "Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind." - Dale Carnegie
          2. Active learning is the process in which students participate in activities to facilitate understanding and retention.
        2. Collaborative Learning: 
          1. "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." -Andrew Carnegie
          2. Any exploration of an idea with two or more minds involved. Individuals working in groups generally retain more information and understand a concept more fully than those working alone.
        3. Inquiry-based Learning: 
          1. "Sometimes questions are more important than answers." -Nancy Willard
          2. Inquiry-based learning is the proces of learning by posing questions, problems, or scenarios. It provides a scaffold for student learning but allows students to explore and develop a better understanding of concepts instead of simply presenting the facts or providing a linear path to established ideas.
        4. Project-based Learning:
          1. Projects are complex, multilayered learning experiences that require students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
          2. Suggestions for PBL:
            1. Present a compelling, challenging real world problem for students.
            2. Encourage students to explore topic through extensive inquiry, research,  information application and reflection.
            3. Organize time for critiques, revisions that scaffolds peer collaboration.
            4. Empower students to share their results with each other and others.
        5. Constructionism:
          1. "For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing." - Aristotle
          2. Inspired by constructivist theory
          3. People learn better when they are actively making things.
          4. Students are encouraged to build or create tangible objects to understand the world around them.
          5. Instead of teaching at a person, constructionism supports the idea of assisting learning through trial and error.
          6. Students test their ideas without fear of failure.
      3. Makerspaces are safe spaces where learners are encouraged to fail to test boundaries and explore creative limits in pursuit of intellectual growth and understanding.
      4. "Good novels, if we are ready for them, transform us. Good curricula should have the same effect." -N.V. Overly & E. Spalding
      5. The ability to tinker, build, break, and create something you envisioned is an incredibly powerful lesson. To work alongside makers of all levels reinforces the idea that we are all learners and need help to succeed.
      6. Instructional approaches
        1. ADDIE framework
        2. Rapid Prototyping
        3. Backward Design
        4. Eight Learning Events: an instructional design model that describes content and context-independent, observable, specific learner activities
          1. imitate
          2. receive information
          3. exercise
          4. explore
          5. experiment
          6. create
          7. self-reflect
          8. debate
Wow, Chapter 2 does not disappoint in terms of awesome ideas and rounding up instructional approaches! I have to admit that it's my favorite chapter so far. 

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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