MakerEd is a way of learning, not just a space.

Lots of attention is being given to the idea of creating makerspaces in school libraries and other areas. I say, sure start with a ‘space’ but make sure it doesn’t just stay in a certain area. Isn’t the kind of excitement, play and learning we find in a makerspace something we would want permeating throughout our schools?

Leslie Preddy talks about the importance of providing makerspaces, especially now, for our students who live in a world that is rapidly changing. In a makerspace: Thinking out of the box– becomes natural.. so our students can better manage the world they will live in. (L.Preddy November 20)

She defined makerspace in a March 10 2014 Interview:

A makerspace is a community destination where the tools and equipment are available for students, with the guidance of adult and peer mentors, can create, problem solve, and develop skills, talents, thinking, and mental rigor. Envision the DIY Network meets the hands-on learning philosophy of a children’s museum, but right there in the school library. What could be more exciting than seeing, doing, and thinking in a place where knowledge, information, and inquiry were born and encouraged?

Yesterday I was fortunate to attend a workshop given by Leslie Preddy. It was an engaging, thought provoking workshop. She talked about the Autodidactic Learner and how traditional teaching/learning stifles these types of learners. I’ll bet if I asked educators to name characteristics of their ‘perfect student’ they would tell me things like: life-long learner, persistent, motivated, thinker. These are all characteristics of an Autodidactic Learner– a self taught master… These learners are fascinated by the act of learning new things. They are motivated to find the answers to their own questions.  And yes, most feel stifled by traditional schools and universities and many don’t finish their formal education because of it. Throughout history you can see examples of these types of learners who became very successful: Steve Jobs, Ray Bradbury, Benjamin Franklin, JK Rowling, just to name a few.

Many don’t drop out of education (and please know I am not promoting everyone to drop out of high school or college in this post). Many Autodidactic Learners stay in formal education and work around it.  They go through the motions and ‘get the job done’ but also feed their mind by reading, exploring museums, finding interesting people to talk to and yes watching an enormous amount of youtube and TED Talk videos. And many find classrooms and spaces within formal education where great educators make them think and give them time to play with ideas.

Enter MakerEd. The MakerEd movement is not new… as a matter of fact it has been around for a very long time. I challenge you to start thinking about how you can incorporate a MakerEd philosophy into your classroom.

So how do you get started thinking like a ‘Maker educator’ and incorporate hands-on thinking and tinkering into your classroom? Start by reading this article Making Matters: How the Maker Movement is Transforming Education (Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager) It is sure to give you some ideas and start you off on the path.

 Tinkering is a powerful form of “learning by doing,” an ethos shared by the rapidly expanding Maker Movement community and many educators. Real science and engineering is done through tinkering. We owe it to our children to give them the tools and experiences that actual scientists and engineers use, and now is the time is to bring these tools and learning opportunities into classrooms.

Other resources to get started:

Leslie Preddy on Pinterest

Check out Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show Sylvia’s DIY Webshow on everything cool and worth making.

Cybrary Man’s Makerspace Resources

Makerspace Resources

And finally… because you know you are also Autodidactic… watch this TED Talk: 5 Dangerous Things you should let your kids do



App or Extension?

What’s the difference between an app or extension? I get this question a lot when I’m doing Google Apps for Education workshops.

Simply speaking an extension extends, or modifies a window in the Chrome Browser. It will work within the window you have opened and enhances that window. An example of an extension that allows you to ‘cleanup’ a digital article is Readability (or Read Comfortably).

An app, or application, opens up its own window and simply takes you to new website or webtool. An example of an app is WeVideo. This app takes you to WeVideo where you can create videos.

Here’s a short video I created that answers this question… check it out!