It has been quite an interesting week for me conducting research and reading through the blogs of my peers on Maker Spaces. I honestly have never heard of maker spaces before. Once researched, I have recognized this concept being employed in our computer lab over the last couple of years. Students in a select technology class have the freedom to take on various technology-based projects, and collaborate to get work done. They are called “Tech-lings” under the guidance of our technology guru and what they get accomplished is quite impressive. It is also evident that they enjoy the collaborative nature of the working environment. Some students flourish in this type of open learning system and I have knowledge that some students appear to abuse this freedom and struggle staying on task.
To me the various benefits of maker spaces are clear. Students work best when teaching (showing) other students and the learning pyramid I posted in my blog is worth re posting here. We should try to spend significant time engaging our students in activities that will allow them to show others, practice, and discuss with others, the material we are covering. Many traditional education models neglect these methods. I have no doubt creating creative students with the ability to collaborate and problem solve will directly assist them in a successful transition to the world of work.
The questions I posed to my peers this week were more focused on the application of this pedagogy specifically. Last week we dove into the world of flipped classrooms. I am much more comfortable with the idea of implementing a flipped classroom than I am with utilizing maker spaces in my classroom. The questions I posted on peer blogs have been discussed but I am not satisfied. First, how do you deal with a classroom of students who are using maker spaces? 25-35 students working in one space seems like a management nightmare. How can I keep them all on task and make sure students are engaged? How do you grade creativity in a traditional grading scale? Where I have witnessed this method implemented, class sizes were significantly smaller. Second, what does this look like in classrooms outside of a STEM subject? I have no doubt that some of my projects and open discovery activities are similar in concept to a maker space, but those were short units and after completing we returned to a more traditional learning environment. To redesign my whole course in the maker space model for a full year is a terrifying thought to somebody like me who prizes a certain element of control in my classroom.
I have no doubt that this model is successful and that there are certain schools and teachers who are accomplishing tremendous results with maker spaces. I also agree with this strategy in theory and will look to implement maker space concept units in my classroom. However, I do have reservations about keeping students on task and the parental fall-out that will likely result for those students who struggle to stay on task… and ultimately struggle to earn a desired grade. As “Burns12” commented below what many of us are struggling with is “how to connect a maker space to curriculum and/or standards without compromising the fundamental aspects that make a maker space”.