“Becoming a Maker”: Nudging a Learner in the Right Direction

“Becoming a Maker”: Nudging a Learner in the Right Direction

            Makerspaces have helped educators to combine the learning-through-doing philosophy of teaching alongside with community based communication through the sharing of ideas and practices. Such exchanges help participants grow in knowledge and understanding and has the potential to impact not only those who make but those that use what is created. This form of learning while exciting for many is also hard for some learners to grasp as it can defer from traditional school formatting and previous conceived notions of what a project needs to be or who can work on it according to skill level; thus providing a challenge for the educators who teach in these spaces to get participants fully engaged.

            A learner in such a space must:

  1. Be willing to engage in both the social and physical aspects of making.
  2. Have a willingness to try new things, and to push past failure.
  3. Reflect eagerness to learn in unexpected ways, rather than looking to standardized as the sole gauge of achievement, expertise, or insight.

People who choose to be a part of a maker community often already possess these three attitudes but due to stress, culture, past experiences, ethical values, technical problems, etc. may not be able to aptly display all of them when needed. As a result, different learning behaviors emerge with their own unique challenges to work through in order to become more of the maker-mentality.

            During the workshop, participants will be led through team-based brainstorming activities on how to “nudge” these learners towards the maker-mentality. Using the Learner’s Behavior Professional Development Card Deck (a free resource tool which demonstrates different learners and their behaviors), participants will in true makerspace fashion analyze, debate, and share experiences to come up with facilitation strategies to aid in this endeavor.

            The goal is to accomplish an open-discussion with the focus of exchanging ideas/techniques and showing that anyone really can function in a makerspace.


Learning Objectives

  • Participants will learn about the three attitudes that aid learners in exploratory, open-ended spaces as well as their relationships with each other and how they operate.
  • Participants will learn the different learning behaviors that are a result of the three attitudes, their advantages, and what people displaying these behaviors need from them within a makerspace-like environment.
  • Participants will learn methods (through open discussion and brainstorming with fellow participants) to help learners who are struggling with adopting a maker-mentality to feel more comfortable within the space and thus more open to what can be accomplished.


How Objectives Will Be Accomplished

  • Presenters will introduce the three attitudes that aid learners in exploratory, open-ended spaces and what they mean. Using visual models (from the Learner’s Behavior Professional Development Card Deck ), the relationships between these three attitudes will be explored and how their presence (or lack of) contribute to different learners.
  • Presenters will lead participants in an exploration of different learning behaviors as demonstrated in the Learner’s Behavior Professional Development Card Deck, what they can bring to a makerspace environment, and identify the areas where they may need help. Presenters will emphasize that these behaviors are adaptable with the right intervention. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences with these learning behaviors and what they personally find challenging and rewarding about them.
  • Presenters will split participants into teams and will lead them through brainstorming activities on how to aid the different learners into adopting a maker-mentality. Findings will be discussed and debated amongst the entire group.


Who is this for?

            This workshop is meant for those with beginning to intermediate knowledge of makerspaces and how learners operate within them. However those with knowledge above intermediate level are more than welcome to join.


Why this Subject?

            As makerspaces that are open to the public become more common and accessible, the need for educators who can comfortably navigate challenges in behavior and mindset to the ultimate goal of forming a participant into a “maker” will become more prevalent.


What is the Learner’s Behavior Professional Development Card Deck?

            The card deck was a result of a research and discovery project hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology center during the spring semester of 2016. The students who worked on the project were tasked with helping the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s own makerspace exhibit, the MAKESHOP© appeal not only to the children who visit, but their families as well.

            Through research, observation, and discussion with those who worked in the exhibit, it was found that a tool that provided a common language on what is needed to function fully within a makerspace, what to think about when brainstorming ideas to work with different learning behaviors, and how to link all of it with their goals for the exhibit would help in appealing to older audiences.

            More information can be found at: https://www.etc.cmu.edu/projects/aristeia/


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