Makerspaces for Education and Training: Exploring future implications for Europe
A new Science for Policy report from the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process regarding making and makerspaces in education. (PDF download)
Yes, it says “Europe” and you may not be in Europe, but it’s likely there is something in this report that will support making and makerspaces in any organization world-wide. Around the world, educators are working to implement makerspaces as part of long-term strategy for educational change—not just as the latest fad that will be tossed out when the winds shift.
From the abstract:
“This report explores the long term potential that makerspaces and making activities can bring to education and training in Europe. Through developing four scenarios with an outlook to 2034, the report supports anticipatory thinking and helps policymakers, makers and educators to better envision and debate the added value that makerspaces and making activities can offer for education and training in Europe. The report outlines three unique aspects of makerspaces which make them appealing to education and training.
- Firstly, making activities naturally combine disciplines that are traditionally taught separately
- Secondly, while exploring real world problems individuals acquire new knowledge and create meaning from the experience
- Thirdly, due to informal ways of social interaction in makerspaces, a diversity of flexible learning arrangements are created (e.g. peer learning and mentoring, peer coaching). “
While focused on European makerspaces and making in education, this report has some interesting ideas about how to frame the benefits of making in both formal and informal learning settings. One of the issues with incorporating making in education is understanding how different it is, for example, to have making as a separate class, making incorporated into other subjects, or making in drop-in or extra-curricular activities.
This is a useful, extensive report that covers a wide variety of these different forward-looking scenarios. The report also introduces “drivers of change” as a way to envision these possible futures that may be useful for many different organizations working towards a longer term vision of educational change. It also manages to include issues of equity and inclusion, plus the often overlooked aspect of community and culture that grow around makerspaces.
Finally, it offers drivers for policy conversations. It nicely integrates some of the seemingly conflicting goals of many “maker” implementations—for example, how can a makerspace be both exploratory and compulsory? How can making be about personal goals and social innovation and building job skills?
This report is nicely balanced between research, policy, and excellent examples of real-world making experiences. It’s well worth reading!
2 Replies to “New report – Long term potential of making and makerspaces for learning”
Research? No, not exactly.
The report is based on a workshop with “experts”, maker educators. It describes scenarios, i.e. projections, based on (valuable) personal experiences of these experts. This is only mentioned in the acknowledgements, not reflected upon or discussed critically.
Repeating what we believe is right is OK, often necessary, but hardly sufficient to convince policy makers. We need evidence, and the JRC should know better.
I think there is room for all of these things. Evidence that combines data with storytelling is most effective in painting a holistic picture that persuades policy makers and the community at large.