What is the Maker Movement, & Why Should You Care?

September 15, 2014 Margo Ensz

This post serves as an introduction to our newest series on the Maker Movement and it's impact and implications in education. Watch for more blog posts on the topic and a white paper in the coming weeks. 

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If you've been listening in and around the edusphere lately, you've most likely heard of makerspaces, maker faires, and the maker movement, which may bring to mind robot-building, software coding, or other  mind-boggling creations from the imaginations of tech-savvy students. As impressive as these accomplishments are, the Maker Movement is based on something far simpler. As the authors of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Education in the Classroom, Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager, put it, “The Maker Movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.” The Maker movement isn't necessarily about the end "thing," but about creating solutions, empowering students, and making connections. 

The Maker movement “treats children as though they are competent.” Empowering students to realize their own powerful ideas and bring these ideas to life is a transformational learning experience, and the sort of connections from abstract to reality that will be necessary for students in tomorrow’s world.

And don’t worry—the Maker movement is not meant to be “one more thing” to add onto already standards and requirement heavy curriculum. In fact, advocates of the movement find that it aligns closely with Common Core and other standards:

“The Common Core and the new Next Generation Science Standards emphasize critical thinking, creativity, and twenty-first-century skills. To achieve these goals requires taking a hard look at both what we teach and how we teach it. The Maker Movement offers lessons, tools, and technology to steer students toward more relevant, engaging learning experiences.”

While the movement exists outside the classroom as well, it seems almost intuitive to connect maker spaces with education. “Maker classrooms are active classrooms. In active classrooms one will find engaged students, often working on multiple projects simultaneously, and teachers unafraid of relinquishing their authoritarian role. The best way to activate your classroom is for your classroom to make something.”

With widespread access to tools and technology, saviness of students, and the desire to solve problems, this seems to be the perfect time for the Maker movement in schools. While some schools are daunted by the notion of creating these spaces, it is important to keep in mind that to create a maker space, the latest technology is helpful, but not at all necessary. ISTE notes several common elements of successful makerspaces:

    • They promote learning through play and experimentation
    • They’re cross-disciplinary, with elements of art, science and craftsmanship
    • They offer tools and materials that encourage students to create rather than consume

With these parameters in mind, educators can create a maker space as simple or complex as is feasible or desired. Over the next weeks we will explore the implications of the Maker Movement, how schools can set up their own maker space, and delve into how the movement is already working within schools. To get started, here are a few resources that explore the Maker Movement back to its beginnings: 

Want in on the maker converstaion? Follow us on Twitter for updates on this series & more information and sources daily. 

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What is the Maker Movement, & Why Should You Care?
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