Building a framework to guide makerspace purchasing decisions
New Jersey library media specialist Laura Fleming writes for EdSurge that administrators should develop a vision, mission statement and themes for their makerspaces to guide purchasing decisions, rather than focusing on the products first.
As makerspaces should be unique to the student populations they are serving, Fleming recommends five things to consider when assessing products, including whether the product can increase equity and access through mobility, whether it allows for open-ended exploration and whether it can empower and engage students.
School leaders who are designing makerspaces should know the learners who will be using them, choosing products that connect to their unique needs, wants and interests — and Fleming suggests these products should be relevant, either to the local school community or global trends and best practices.
Makerspaces have been popping up at schools and community centers around the country for several years now. Some of these are especially high-tech, with 3D printers and other expensive products. Others give students the chance to explore and create without such a high price tag. As Fleming suggests, the key to makerspaces is less what is in them but how students can use them.
One of the “founding fathers” of the maker movement, Dale Dougherty, has encouraged teachers to incorporate makerspace principles into the classroom. This means creating lessons that give students control over their own learning, prompting intrinsic motivation and creative problem-solving. Researchers have found benefits of such a design but it is a complicated shift for many teachers, which means administrators who want to support it need to start with high-quality professional development.
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