College students' need for hands-on experience will boost makerspaces' relevance
- In a piece for Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Education, CDW-G's Dave Doucette posits that makerspaces are set for an explosion of popularity and relevance in higher ed.
- Makerspaces, Doucette writes, give institutions the ability to capitalize on the popularity of experiential and project-based learning while encouraging entrepreneurial thinking, challenging students to creatively develop solutions to real-world problems.
- Examples of highly effective makerspaces provided by Doucette include Case Western Reserve University's "think[box]" — which utilizes 3-D printing, scanners and computer-aided design software — and the University of Texas College of Fine Arts' "Foundry," which focuses on the intersection of the arts and computer science in music production, art made with 3-D printers, and video game and app development.
As policymakers, employers and other stakeholders demand highly skilled graduates, makerspaces present an opportunity for colleges and universities to give students hands-on experiences with specific skills that they can tout on their resumes. This is especially notable when it comes to 3-D printers, which are perhaps the most frequently referenced pieces tech when makerspaces are discussed and increasingly finding use in industries ranging from food to manufacturing to healthcare.
In that context, it's no surprise that the UT College of Arts' Foundry makerspace has also taken an interdisciplinary approach to the concept. While technical skills are no doubt needed in many of the STEM fields, employers have also called for more creative thinking skills among graduates. And when it comes to fashioning innovative solutions for items like organ transplants, prosthetics, mechanical components and more, graduates with creative and artistic skills on top of technical know-how can make a huge difference in bringing an idea into the real-world.
It's a notion many liberal arts programs will want to keep in mind, if they aren't already, as they continue justifying their relevance in the 21st century.
- Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Ed The Maker Movement Is Poised to Thrive in Higher Education
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