Kent State held their latest Learning Innovations Conference Series on November 4th, 2022. The theme was Maker Education. John Spencer was the opening Keynote speaker.
John’s talks and books focus on Design Thinking , Project Based Learning (PBL through Design Thinking) … Creativity, Curiosity, Empowering students…Making.
He reminded us that “we are all “Under Construction” ” . One of his teachers when he was young, Mrs. Smoot, told him “when you hide your voice, you rob the world of your creativity”. I think this is very true. One of our roles as educators should be helping students find their voice to unleash their inner creativity. He likes to say “making is magic” and it is in the sense that it transforms things like learning and people. Technology does not transform learning, Technology becomes obsolete. The skills you learn and use (while making) don’t become obsolete. These skills are “Timeless skills” essential skills that are not “soft” at all. They aren’t 2st century skills , they apply in all centuries.
He likes the term “Vintage Innovation” to talk about doing different AND better, overlap of the “tried and true” and the “never tried.”. Mashing up lo fi and new tech, cutting edge tech with old skills. Students need to be curious and ask TONS of questions. I thin Curiosity is the first C in education that leads to all the rest (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration). We need to develop the skill of “problem finder” not just “problem solver”. We also need to know the difference between “FAILure” and “FAILing” one is permanent, one is a stepping stone (temporary). Embrace failing…it happens all the time to everyone. What’s next mentality… Lots of “inventors” with great inventions have closets and rooms full of things that didnt work.
S3 technologies lead a session about Makerspace ideas. They shared the connection with Makerspace ideas and John Hattie research on affect. Some of the things that happen in a MakerSpace that have large affect numbers are:
Meta-cognition strategies (0.55)
Creativity programs (0.70)
Reciprocal teaching (0.74)
Evaluation and reflection (0.75)
Planning and prediction (0.76)
Transfer strategies (0.86)
Cognitive task analysis (1.29)
They also shared the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. It helps educators intentionally and strategically use technology to enhance and propel student learning.
Vicki Turner shared about the “Nitty Gritty” of managing a Makerspace.
She reminded us that it will always be “you don’t quite know how to do it”. Admin needs to be involved as much as you can get them. I have spoken with Michael Triska at NORT2H along these lines. Many admin come to their building and he wants to have a Makerspace setup in the atrium so that admins see it and play with it. We need them to get their hands on. I think we need an admin Maker bootcamp in the summer.
Makerspaces will always be a mess and will always have storage issues. You will have to repair and fix stuff, or call in the manufacturer to do so. They often need more electrical than the existing space has. Get mobile with stuff Husky too carts are good. Budge the kids and get student helpers. Display the student work EVERYWHERE, even central office. Train ALL your staff and admin on tools and skills. Accept ALL donations, even if you might not use it…you never know what idea or positive interactions it will generate. And get lots of books (I agree).
I presented about Maker Centered Learning across the curriculum. We talked about ideas in various classrooms. But the first thing we did was dump out a ziploc bag of stuff and built something. Maker needs to be experienced, not just seen and heard. Maker is good for our social and emotional health. Everyone said they felt good after making something. Here are my slides if you are interested (i have others also) https://bit.ly/mclksu2022
Afterwards, I chatted with Erika Cousineau from the Girl Scouts, Colleen Cosgrove from the Boy Scouts and John Spencer. We had a nice chat, sometimes about maker ideas and questions, sometimes about personal stuff. Nice, casual learning and connections. We need more time like this. I shared my idea of an Oregon Maker Conference (John lives in Oregon). I want to do a 3 day conference. Maker tools and ideas in the morning. Lunch and afternoon visiting 2 wineries. Evening dinner together and a bonfire. Do that for 3 days. Lots of casual time where we can share and talk about things we learned/did in the morning and percolate ideas. John did bring up a great question/issue : how do we create access to Makerspaces OUTSIDE of school? for kids, for families... Why havent community/local Makerspaces thrived (there have been several national businesses that tried and failed)...
I think the next Learning Innovations needs to be hands on Maker.
Like PittFab & ChattFab and FabPlay.
At the same time that I was presenting, there was a session/panel on creating a NEO Maker network (some thing I have been talking to people about for a couple of years). I am hopeful that we can create one because it can only help people... "the smartest person in the room is the room" applies to networks...also "I may be smart, but my network is genius" works also (thanks Kevin Honeycutt). I think we should have quarterly events at various spaces where we come together and make something. Maybe an annual Edcamp and a MakerFaire. I don't know if newsletters do any good -- I am trying a blog (and need people to be guest Bloggers to share their stories). The network should run the annual Summit-Portage FabPlay workshop ...and maybe some others, maybe a bunch of summer camps. Maybe we could work on that issue John brought up - getting out of school access to Makerspaces. (I want a Mobile Makerspace that can go anywhere anytime...that is a whole other blog)