The biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the Maker Movement is to transform education. My hope is that the agents of change will be the students themselves.Dale Dougherty
The Maker Movement is a Global Revolution in new ways of production and new ways of creating products. In many ways it is like the industrial revolution, changing our expectations of how new products are created and distributed.
There is also an important practice of sharing – designs for products from shoes to houses to prosthetics can now be created, uploaded, and modified by individuals across the globe.
Finally, there is a mindset of competence, contribution and self-efficacy that is at the heart of Maker culture. Makers don’t need to wait for a company or a factory to make what they need – in many cases they can do it themselves.
In schools, the Maker Movement can refer to using these new tools in a Maker Space to innovate and create, but more importantly to be a part of traditional classroom core instruction.
Why is it important to have in the classroom?
Sylvia Martinez points out that too often we see children as “objects of change” that we will teach or make their learning happen as opposed to “agents of change.” Making begins to return that power to the student. More than a process, Making is a mindset that respects the abilities of students and turns much control over to them, but with structure, not anarchy.
Through Making, students learn to set standards of excellence as they show their completed, physical projects and discuss their process.
How does it support intrinsic motivation and ownership?
Through Making, students do relevant work that relates to the real world and to things they value while giving them a great deal of control over what they do and how they do it. That autonomy and meaning support the process of gaining mastery, the key ingredients of intrinsic motivation.
One advantage of being on the cutting edge of technology and learning is that no one is an expert – this means that there is a sort of leveling of the playing field between teacher and student that lends itself to the authentic gradual release of control that leads to self-efficacy.
The students are in charge of the project and the design and have the opportunity to learn how to iterate and improve without seeing incomplete mastery as failure but as a stage of development.
What does it look like in practice?
Making looks a lot like good Project Based Learning. Students have the opportunity to decide what they want to do within the structures and guidance provided by excellent teachers. This mindset is core to Making.
Obvious opportunities are in the physical sciences for learning about electricity and motion. Because Making deals with physical objects, there is the opportunity to measure and analyze in support of middle and even high school science. There is the opportunity to explore 3-D math with a 3-D printer, an area that has been largely ignored because it can’t be represented well by 2-D textbooks.