Educational Technology and Design Summer Institute – Day 3

On the third day of the summer institute we were treated to Michelle Davis’ journey in creating maker spaces in new places. Lucky for us she wrote an ebook detailing the key decisions, and influences that lead to the learning commons maker space taking the shape it did. If you’d like to learn more about it please see her book, Making Space for New Library Learning: A Makerspace Journey.

Jay Wilson introduces Michelle Davis

One thing from this presentation I absolutely loved was the Lego wall that her school created. Partly because I grew up with Lego, and it was a way for me to let my imagination fly. Lego can be so much more than ‘simply putting blocks together’. I’ll fully admit that table top gaming has been a part of my life since I was very young, beginning with one of my all time favourite games, Hero Quest. This was an obvious first step to becoming a regular Dungeon’s and Dragons player. The game play interested me, but what was more interesting were the game mechanics. Putting that interest together with the Lego sets I had lead to more hours than I’d wish to count trying to create my own versions of these games. Just another kind of making I suppose.

I think the image on the cover of Michelle’s book shows robots that students created. Her students assembled robots and created storybooks that explained the history of their robot, their features, their personalities, etc. Students would scurry back and forth between where they were writing and the Lego wall to check their story against the robot they had created. Awesome.

Another statement that stood out to me was regarding the green screen and light set her school has. Most schools (well most places in general I’d speculate) would put these things away neatly in their cases between uses. Michelle ensured that they were viewable to everyone that came into the learning commons, and simply through the presence of the green screen people became interested in it. I suspect the screen gets more use because of this than it would have otherwise.

We wrapped up Michelle’s session by checking out some of the robots she has in her makerspace. It was great to see everyone just giving things a try and figuring out what they could do with each of the different sets provided.

Overall the Summer Institute was one of my all time favourites this year. I think the progression we had from design thinking and making what we could with what we had, challenging the way we think about material selection and sustainability regarding our own wellness in makerspaces, assembling speakers and exploring 3D printing, and finally using purchased kits not only demonstrated the variety of approaches each of us could take in creating a makerspace, but also surfaces some philosophical choices that are inherent in this.

I’ll need to think a bit more about that and follow-up.

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