Makerspace 102 – Stuff

Now that your maker mindset has set in and you are thinking that messy making in your classroom is a real possibility, let’s see how we manage to engage students in making.

First of all, having some materials in your classroom to make with is not as difficult as it sounds.  You may put a call out for parents to help with objects that may be in the home or you may have a small budget with which to purchase some consumables.  One of the best ways to collect materials for your makerspace is to have an on-going take-apart station in your classroom or learning commons.  A take-apart station can house electronics or appliances or anything that you feel you can scavenge parts from.

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Books like “Unscrewed” by Ed Sobey help you figure out the best items to take apart and what you can salvage from each item.

You may want to add a few items from the Dollar Store to help students imagine a prototype for making.  Do you put all your consumables out at once? Not a chance.  Everything would disappear before you turned around.   One experience at a makerspace that I had made sense to me.  Once students have designed a prototype and taken a good second look at it, they can present their plan in order to access the materials they need to build it.  That way item are planned to be used and embellishment can be indulged in at the end of the prototyping (if at all).

Next time we will talk about task design.  Task design is one thing about making that is probably my biggest struggle.  I want students to be engaged and invested in the task but making it personal for them is something that is not easy for me.  Let’s look at task design together next time.

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The Horizon Report – 2018

Although The Horizon Report for the K-12 environment is the one I most pay attention to for writing this blog, this Horizon Report – Post Secondary has some interesting findings.

Educause has now partnered with NMC to research and publish the Horizon Report but the main areas of interest remain the same.download

This report examines key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education (long, mid and short-term trends), significant challenges impeding technology adoption in higher education (solvable, difficult and wicked challenges), and important developments in educational technology for higher education (one, two-three and four-five years to adoption).

There is much to read and analyse in this report.  It is especially interesting to see how long post secondary takes to adopt some trends.  For example, one long term trend (five or more years) is to evaluate advancing cultures of innovation. (p.8)  Does this seem like a long time to adopt an innovative mindset within post secondary faculties?  I thought it was but that is my opinion.  Of course, the adoption will vary.  Some institutions and even some faculties within institutions will be faster to adopt an innovative mindset and create more diverse learning opportunities for students.

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The finding that “rethinking the roles of educators” is a wicked challenge is in line with discovery that innovation is a long term trend.  In order to innovate in the faculties of post secondary institutions there will have to be shift in the role of the educator.  As with the K-12 environment, teachers will be shifting from “knowledge experts to learning facilitators.” (p.34) Taking into account that students have knowledge at their fingertips in a way never experienced before in education, instructors and teachers will have to become comfortable with digital communications and guiding students to relevant, authentic data, research and conclusions.

There is so much more to talk about – this post is only the beginning.  I’ll follow up soon with information about Makerspaces and how they are becoming more prevalent in post secondary environments.  Pay close attention to page 40 of the report, “other  institutions, such as the university of Calgary, supply maker pedagogy, resources, materials selection criteria and project ideas.” See the note 208, it is linked to my research guide about makerspaces.  We will discuss the other findings in a new blogpost, later this week.

Baby, If You Love Me…

Not the usual title of one of my blog posts but I have to say that a workshop about improv games last week led me to wonder how this experience can translate into the classroom.action-2483679__340

Considering the time of year that I’m writing this post, I think improv can develop relationships with your students quickly and solidly without the awkward in between time when working groups are hard to form and students are reluctant to commit to any group in the class.

The introductory game was entitled, you guessed it, “Baby, If You Love Me….”  In this situation, we were to repeat to anyone of the group, “Baby, if you love me won’t you please, please smile.”  After that we could do or say anything to get our collaborator to smile.  Our partner would have to say back, “Baby you know I love you, but I just can’t smile.”  Having people concentrate on not giggling while being put on the spot is the purpose of this exercise.  We quickly sorted into gigglers and stone-faced groups that could not be coaxed to smile.

In this way, the group quickly got comfortable with each other and we learned, through various other exercises, to be silly and fun with people we did not know very well.  We also, at times, invaded their personal space.

Resources like 101 more drama games and activities  here at the Doucette can help you integrate some improv into your classes here on campus or to use during your practicum where you can quickly get to know students in your class.

Our leader pointed out that knowing what is a low risk, medium risk and high risk game is important.  Choose the level of risk according to the outcome you would like to see.  I see these risk levels in terms of how “uncomfortable” you want to make participants.  Low risk means most people will be comfortable with the process.  High risk will involve someone possibly being very uncomfortable with the exercise.  For example, saying “Baby, I love you, won’t you please, please smile,” was relatively low risk with just enough of discomfort saying this phrase to a co-worker to make it a real experience.

Start with something easy and low risk and see if you can’t laugh with the group you are working with.  This type of exercise breaks the ice and helps form relationships for everyone in the group.

For the 7 people in my group, we now see each other at work and say, “hello” and know that we have a unique shared experience that helped us get to know each other better.