Ohmygosh! This was such a simple, practical article about creating effective makerspaces. It got me dreaming about the makerspace that is supposedly coming to my daughter’s school. I really need to get better plugged in there because I didn’t even know they were putting one in. I would have loved to provide some input.
Most importantly, I would have asked if there was any way that it could be connected to the library. I think it’s a real missed opportunity to not have these two learning spaces connected. The library, after all, is a place where students are exposed to new and previously unexplored ideas. In an ideal world, there’s enough library time each week for library programs that help students actively engage with those ideas through collaborative, hands-on projects. We know this is how students learn. Having a makerspace would be a step in the right direction.
Modern school libraries have moved waaay beyond the role of merely supporting traditional literacy (reading and writing), toward being a key player in ensuring students meet state standards related to digital, visual, textual and technological literacy (which apply to K-5, not just the older kids). The modern library is a place of learning and doing. As Joyce Frye Willams puts it, “Our libraries should transition to places to do stuff, not simply places to get stuff. We need to stop being the grocery store and become the kitchen” (take a minute to explore my colleagues’ website about makerspaces where I discovered this quote; it’s about highschool makerspaces, but very informative with lots of relevant resources.)
By separating the makerspace from the library, we risk marginalizing the library and move further away from giving our students an integrated, collaborative learning experience. You could almost argue that it sends a message that reading, writing, and inquiry/research have nothing to do with making things, undervaluing both the the library and the makerspace. Instead, we should be modelling the idea of connected learning, demonstrating that learning occurs in different contexts, is production-centered, and is powered by student interest (Harlan, 2015). One of the district’s core strategies for becoming “the model of educational excellence and innovation” is stated on page eight of its strategic plan: “The library is an important and central hub of each campus. The library can and should be involved in every aspect of the educational process.” Adding a makerspace to the library would help bring this vision of a learning hub into reality in a big way. Both libraries and makerspaces are important investments of time, money and energy, and should be maximized for optimal impact. They are, after all, more similar than they are different, sharing the common mission to “ignite a love of learning and a sense of curiosity in all students”- which, incidentally, is the school’s stated vision. Sounds like a win-win-win-win to me.
Harlan, M.A., (2015) Literacy and Media Centers in the Twenty-First Century. In Hirsh, S., Editor, Information Services Today: An Introduction. (pp. 53 – 61). Blue Ridge Summit: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
ISTE Connects (2016, May 11) 7 Tips for Creating a Learner-Centered Makerspace International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Sannwald, S. Burns. M., Miranda, G. & Westcoat, M. (2015) Makerspace Toolkit.