Joining the Maker Movement

People engage with the Maker Movement in many ways. Some read about it, some attend events, others watch it happen. Yet, gaining real access is simple once the premise of doing-it-yourself is implemented. You can easily join the Maker Movement just by making or modifying something, and even better as Mark Hatch would suggest, is to make something and give it to someone. The process of giving a personally crafted artifact to someone is significantly different from purchasing a gift as it’s tied to emotion and personal transformation (Mark Hatch).

You might be wondering how you can gain access to and/or join the Maker Movement. This list below gives you some options and resources for getting involved and sustaining the Maker Movement.

Have you thought about how your existing skills, knowledge, and talents can be used to ‘design, adapt, hack, and create’ (Bullock, 2014)’?

/AJS

What do we call the ‘results’ of Making?

I’ve come across many way in which the end results of Making is referenced. Different fields have their own terms, for example, educators make reference to learning outcomes, designers use the term portfolios, artists create physical objects, STEM complete projects and in some cases produce products, and so forth the terminology proceeds. Is there a way we can reference the results of Making that embody all these notions of what happens at the end while embracing the process of learning that happen during Making?

In recent conversations with the Principal Investigator, Shawn, on this SSRCH project (which is embedded in the context of education), we had such conversations. During some initial discussion, I used the word “product” to describe the outcomes of Making; this caused a strong reaction in Shawn for which I was grateful as it fueled a rich dialogue. In discussing this further, we surmised that “product” as a term to describe the result of Making takes away from the very ethos of the Maker Movement. This description is deficit in the processes that exemplify Making such as sharing, giving, learning about something, variability of perspectives, tinkering, and supporting a community – essentially — everything the Maker mindset encompasses.

As the conversation proceeded, we turned to the term “artifact” to describe the resulting creations of Making. Does this term work? I looked at the etymology of the word “artifact” and found some historical themes derived from computing, archaeology, and biology that align well with the Maker Movement.  Underpinning the term artifact (as spelled in the Oxford English Dictionary) are subtexts of [reference]:

  • Objects that are shaped through human touch
  • Creation for specific interests groups through community endeavours
  • Results of human collective conception and supported by capacity to make free and independent choices
  • Products and outcomes of processes (e.g. experiment or digital processing) that are shaped by actions (not necessarily human) and may not be innate to the object

Now I move to test the term “artifact” in education. The artifact symbolizes the (collaborative) learning process including the design, creation, tinkering and hacking [Bullock, 2014] innate in Making for a specific community, which may also extend to the teaching of that process to others in the affinity group. The tacit knowledge and conceptions that result from  Making is then sharable with and future artifacts (even learning artifacts) may look very distinct as they are shaped by collective processes of the community of practice.

How does the term “artifact” to describe the results of Making in education sit with you?

/AJS

How is the Maker Ethos relevant to pedagogy?

Populations, communities, and practices typically share an “ethos” which characterizes their guiding beliefs around activities of interest. In Maker communities the ethos is grounded in attitudes, skills, knowledge, commitment, and competencies that allow people with similar interests to “hackadaptdesign, [and] create” (Bullock, 2014) artifacts (stay tuned to read more about “What we mean by artifacts”).  Maker communities involve collaboration amongst members within the do-it-yourself culture and are driven by affinity-to and curiosity-towards the activity at hand.  The spaces that Makers create are often micro-communities with self-guiding standards, such as being creative,  sharing knowledge and skills, problem-solving, togetherness, mentoring others, and making excellent mistakes while feeling safe to do so. These Maker Spaces can been seen in coordinated ventures such as Tech Shops, in labs, or can pop-up in someone’s garage. Making can happen anywhere, but the really interesting part is watching it unfold. What can we learn from the Maker Ethos that might be relevant to pedagogy?

Having the privilege of witnessing Maker Spaces, a couple of guiding beliefs appear to be at the core of the Maker Ethos. These drivers seem to be sharing, learning, exchanging, and gusto! Maker community interactions are a powerful thing and what’s evident in this ethos which I feel makes it distinct from, for example a collaborative group or team, is the inherent tendency to focus on the process of Making. This focal point of process in my opinion circumvents the innate drive towards a focus solely on finished projects and outcomes, which often seem to drive most team-based work. In Maker Spaces, competition appears to be deflected and the Maker Ethos shines through.  Then the innovation can happen.

The Maker Ethos opens some new doors for pedagogy. The guiding beliefs can play out in profound way such as:

  • Allowing learners to gather around a task/ challenge/ problem of interests to create gusto. This is associated with motivation and happiness towards the completion of projects/ outcomes.
  • Fostering  commitment to the solving of difficult problems by leveraging the Maker Community as a resource for the exchange of knowledge and skills.
  • Focusing on the creative and inspiring aspects of the learning and sharing process throughout the completion of projects/ outcomes to advance collective knowledge.

Educators can create opportunities in the classroom for students to learn by doing through working on authentic projects that are personally meaningful and globally valuable. The creation and design that learners bring to real problem can foster innovation in a relevant and momentous manner.

/AJS