How is the “Maker Movement” changing education?

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The maker movement is a multidisciplinary social movement, seamlessly blending aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with a central focus on creation. Although the maker movement is quite diverse and varied, there are several core values that guide the movement as a whole.


The theories of Constructionism and Constructivism are foundational philosophies behind the maker movement.


Constructivism:

  • A philosophy of education proposed by John Dewey and Jean Piaget
  • Knowledge is actively constructed by learners as a result of experience
  • Learning is ongoing construction and revision of mental representations
  • Learning is seen as a product of play, experimentation, and authentic inquiry

Constructionism:

  • An extension of constructivism offered by Seymour Papert
  • Learning takes place through a process of developing an idea, then designing and creating an external representation of that idea
  • Learning takes place through the construction of knowledge through the acts of creating, collaborating, and sharing.


Inquiry-based learning is a core value of the maker movement, which has made it particularly appealing in the education sector. Curiosity, wonder, and playfulness are central themes in making.

“Maker education fosters curiosity, tinkering, and iterative learning, which in turn leads to better thinking through better questioning. This learning environment fosters enthusiasm for learning, student confidence, and natural collaboration. Ultimately, the outcome of maker education and educational makerspaces leads to determination, independent and creative problem solving, and an authentic preparation for the real world by simulating real-world challenges.”


Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (2014). Part 1: The philosophy of educational
makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8-11.

In this sense, the most important duties of maker education are: (1) to set the stage for observation and collaboration to take place naturally; and (2) to connect students to the tools and resources needed to enable them to initiate their own learning.


Another prominent value within the maker movement is the willingness to embrace failure. Failure is seen as one step of many in the right direction toward a successful solution to a problem. Makers are encouraged to experiment and play with ideas. Makers must learn to be confident in taking risks and to trust in themselves.

Maker culture emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach. The underlying belief is that employing many disciplines in the creative process offers multiple entry points for engagement while fueling creativity and igniting innovation.

In fostering creativity, exploration, and active inquiry, the maker movement has the ability to make a significant and powerful impact on STEM education and prepare students to become engaged members of society.

“The world today is looking for open, curious individuals with innovative spirits who seek and take on new challenges, develop rich thinking processes, and visualize unique possibilities. There is a need for people who are comfortable with taking risks, are eager to discover new quests, seek collaborations, and are geared toward making unique contributions with the possibilities they uncover.”


Smay, D., & Walker, C. (2015). Makerspaces: A creative approach to education. Teacher
Librarian, 42(4), 39-43.

If you are interested in learning more about the maker movement, Make: magazine is a great place to access a wealth of resources, including DIY projects and ideas for makers, an interactive online community, tool guides, a web-based storefront for purchasing various maker tools and supplies, maker spotlights, and information about their Maker Faire events. For further reading, Dale Dougherty, the founder of Make: magazine, offers a unique perspective on the advent of the movement, touching on its core values and its vast reach.


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