Maker Centered Learning

Maker Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape their Worlds (2017) is one of a few new “maker” resources here at the Doucette.   Making is becoming a hot ticket item in the education field with many publishers and manufacturers jumping on the making wagon.

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Having read some of the literature beginning in late 2014, there seems to be a definite  change in tone and content in this later literature.  Looking back at the Maker Movement Manifesto from 2013, it really was all about the gadgets:  3D printer, soldering, circuits, copper wiring.  It was about setting up a place in which to make with tools that were purchased, usually beyond the budget of the average school.

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There is new hope for those educators who wish to make in their classrooms.  Maker Centered Learning dwells on the benefits of having students make with whatever you have and where ever you are.  Instead of embracing the Makerspace in schools, educators are more openly embracing the maker mindset in the environment they work in.

Although having a dedicated maker space in a learning commons or library is a very desirable location in a school setting, newer literature is encouraging teachers to take what they have to situate making in their learning spaces. In addition, the re-designing of these learning spaces  to make them more flexible for different uses including making and more hands-on activities is showing up more and more in the writing.

Meaningful Making: Projects and Inspiration for Fab Labs and Makerspaces was also received in the library recently and is comprehensive in looking at projects with how-to’s, additional websites and curriculum connections.

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There are many new resources to support making in learning environments. There is a definite change in the focus from buying and equipping a Maker Space to including making in a classroom using what is available.  The emphasis on the hands-on learning aspect of making is coming to the fore and not a minute too soon.

 

3D Printing in a School or Educational Environment

Do you look at the advertisements for 3D printers and wonder if there is one with your name on it?  Do you wonder how engaged your students would be if only they had access to a 3D printer? Are you reading articles that say that having a 3D printer is a necessary part of your new Maker Space?

Having a 3D printer is a great addition to a Maker Space no matter the age of your students.  3D printing allows students to create prototypes not limited to the available materials.  There are many websites that show designs that have been created to be printed on a 3D printer.  Thingiverse is one comprehensive collection of what others have designed to be printed.

Some students have the ability to design or invent a prototype or parts that do not exist in real life or on design websites.  For this purpose, many of the design websites allow students to create 3D designs for printing.  AutoDesk AutoCAD is recommended but facilitators may need to investigate and work through the design process first before introducing it to students.

Tinkercad is a great app or website to start out creating items and have students who haven’t experienced “design” to explore.

Remember that committing to a 3D printer in your space means that someone has to maintain the printer, make sure things are printing smoothly and organize the printing requests.  Local experience says that while the printer is printing someone should be present, not watching but in the area doing some other work.  If this will be your Library Assistant, it would be a good idea to train and be available as backup for their learning.

Having a 3D printer in your workspace also means continuing cost.  The same way we purchase paper for the printer or photocopier, the filaments that create the 3D printed object need to be purchased, loaded and maintained.

Although many schools have a 3D printer on their wish list, you may be the person who investigates before you get one and plans for its maintenance, use and all the other design sites and software necessary to make the best use of this technology.

Here at the University of Calgary, we are lucky to have a 3D printer administered by the Taylor Family Digital Library.  There are Tech Mentors that can facilitate students to complete a design that is recognizable by the 3D printer software.  And, for supply cost, you can print an object.  Occasionally, workshops are available to show students how the process works.  Visit the 3D printing page for more information.

Librarians on the Road – Part I – Edmonton Public Library

Although the Doucette Library serves the students of the Werklund School of Education, we librarians realize that there is a big world out there.  Recently, three of us hopped in the car and drove up to Edmonton to see some unique educational spaces.

We started our tour at the Edmonton Public Library, Downtown Branch, where a significant makerspace has been installed on the main floor.  This space is largely dedicated to the digital aspects of making, although there are plans for a large re-model and expansion of the space.

Dedicated gaming areas are comfortable and almost silent due to the plastic cone enclosures for the speaker system.  Gamers do not have to wear headphones and the noise is directed at the player.  All the stations were being used when we were there on a Monday afternoon.

Not one, but three, 3D printers are situated by the staff desk.  Staff members are familiar with trouble-shooting all three printers.  The printers are produced by a company in Edmonton so further trouble-shooting is only a phone call away.  PC and Mac computers contain design software and staff can help clients with their creations.

Two sound rooms provide a location for podcasts, music recording, and practice.  They are small but equipped to provide maximum sound proofing.

The Espresso Book Machine was producing a single volume work by a local author.  In a matter of minutes, a copy complete with cover and glued binding is ready for the client to look at.

There is a green screen space that is often used by schools, photographers and filmmakers to produce excellent quality work.

Clients could be seen converting photographic slides from the ‘70’s to digital media that would not degrade as the slides were doing.  Conversions can be done from VHS, CDs, photographs and slides.

This space is very well used.  Staff is accommodating and very busy.  School trips are booked solid for the foreseeable future and it is a popular drop in for all ages. Oh, and all the power outlets hung from the ceiling offering maximum power to everyone.

This is one well-used educational makerspace.  And the fact that they will provide smaller maker areas for every branch in Edmonton means that Edmonton Public Library knows that making is the way of the present and the future.  Go and visit sometime and see what possibilities are already in place.

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3D Printing

Many makerspaces are built around the 3D printer as a main attraction.  Makerbot has made the purchase of a 3D printer and the accompanying software a possibility for some libraries and makerspaces.

The Taylor Family Digital Library at the University of Calgary makes use of a Makerbot 3D printer in its Digital Media Commons. Recently, I attended a workshop run by a Digital Mentor to walk through the steps to generate an artifact in 3D.

All the software from Sketchup for the beginner to Rhino and Blender for the more advanced designer is available on the gaming computers located near the 3D printer.

Next, we were introduced to a 3D scanner by Next Engine that scans 3D objects with laser precision for printing.  This scanner is reported to be used by Jay Leno for reproducing small parts for his vintage car collection.

Then, we returned to see how the scanned item was imported into the Makerbot software.  This software is one of the reasons that Makerbot is such a popular trademark.  It is easy to learn and prints good results.

Although a 3D printer is not essential in a makerspace, it does add a bit of novelty to making.  One of the recent items printed at the TFDL was the 3D model of a brain for a neuroscience student.  As she works on the model she is extra careful since it is the image of her own brain.  For unique parts or for those intent on designing unique items, the makerbot delivers.

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