Learning by tinkering / making
In the past decade, the terms makerspace, hackerspace, and fablab have come on the horizon. These are new names for what people have always done—come together to fix things, make new things, and learn from each other. Smart tools, rapid prototyping, digital fabrication, and computational technology combine with the global reach of the internet to share ideas, solutions to problems, and the actual designs of things you can make yourself. These spaces are launch pads for a future where people of all ages can be agents of change rather than objects of change.
Introduction from: What is: makerspace, hackerspace, Fab Lab, FabLearn?
It was Seymour Papert who coined the term “constructionism”.
Constructionism builds on Piaget’s earlier notions of constructivism to clarify that learning is most powerful when we create and share any kind of artifact, whether that’s a new robot, a videogame, a hand-knitted scarf, or a theory of the universe. This guiding pedagogy and theory of learning is particularly useful for educators working in FabLabs, makerspaces, and studio settings and helps us to think about better designing and understanding 21st-century learning spaces.
Making and tinkering practices have deep historical roots in human activity where people construct, design, fix, recreate, or refine designed objects in ways that are meaningful to them and that connect to ideas from multiple and variable contexts within their lives. Tinkering and making practices reflect “the practical, physical, and playful modes of inquiry advanced by educators such as John Dewey (1938/2007), Friedrich Froebel (1887), Maria Montessori (1912), and Seymour Papert (1980)”.
The science of learning by making
Makerspaces provide a setting for active learning—exploring, innovating, creating—but making as learning is a relatively new phenomenon. Research findings from the realms of psychology and cognitive science can give educators some insight into how to successfully integrate making and learning. Strategies to support the successful introduction of maker methodologies include:
- Reduce cognitive overload
- Facilitate creative thinking
Integral to every Learnlife site will be constantly evolving spaces for making. From spaces for exploring wearable technologies in fashion to designing drones that can collect data for urban planning, learners will be given the opportunity to explore, create, and collaborate. The process of designing, prototyping and making are key skills, especially when nurturing capacity to problem solve, trial and develop. The nature and materials of a ‘makerspace’ will vary depending on the interests of the community of learners and the wider social, technological and economic environments.