Makerspaces and Design at ISTE 2013

Maker Kids Toy Hacking Space

OK, I admit it. I didn’t know what a makerspace was until I came to ISTE. Should I have? Probably. Am I glad I know now? Absolutely!

Makerspaces are a form of design and innovation in education that uses technology as a tool to empower students to get their ideas from thought to product. It’s a way of providing students with the space that they need to explore and extend their problem-solving skills through a tactile environment. It comes in many different forms but usually contains a physical space stocked with many different types of materials and provides coaching from teachers to guide students through the design cycle: investigate, design, test and create.

I first heard the term makerspace at the beginning of the ISTE conference during a Hack Education session. Diane Main (@dowbiggin), one of the leading contributors to the discussion, caught my attention with her enthusiasm for the topic. It was there that I was first introduced to Make Magazine as a valuable resource for makerspaces. Soon, I began hearing about makerspaces everywhere, including during a personal and inspiring conversation with Gregory Hill (@mrsenorhill), who is leading a ground-breaking project with his Disruption Department in St. Louis.

Most recently, I explored the essence of design and technology tools for innovation at the Imagine, Invent and Innovate session with Lucie De La Bruere. In this session, we explored tools like 123d Design, which is similar to Sketch Up and Hop Scotch, which is similar to Scratch. Using these tools, we explored how we can extend the use of iOS devices beyond consumption to robust creation experiences. Through these creations, students are able to communicate their ideas and designs for future makerspace products and speed down the road of innovation toward entrepreneurship.

As we watched the inspirational video Imagine It about the innovation project sponsored by Stanford, I realized that this is yet another example of the main theme that is circulating throughout the various presentations, speeches and conversations at ISTE 2013: Students must be involved, inspired, and emotionally invested in their learning to develop the 21st century skills that they need for the future. Whether it’s through gaming, programming, presenting or creating, it’s our responsibility to help facilitate student engagement with the curriculum and connect students with the technological tools they need to succeed.

Have you attended sessions that discussed makerspaces while at ISTE 2013? What resources have you gathered to help teachers develop more creation and design opportunities with students?  What steps are you taking to develop innovation opportunities at your school?

Looking forward to your thoughts,

Jessica :)

Photo Source:  The Shifted Librarian Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0



This entry was posted in ISTE Conference, Thought Leadership and tagged , , , by Jessica Allen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jessica Allen

Passionate about technology since the Radio Shack TRS-80, I graduated university as a teacher wanting to make a difference. I began my journey outside the Navajo Reservation in Arizona where I first became known as the "technology girl"; the teacher that found every discarded computer in the school and put it in her third grade classroom for learning centers. From there my journey has been a long and winding road around the world stopping off along the way in England, Singapore, and Santiago. In each location I have gained a deeper understanding of curriculum and technology by exploring the path where the two meet; the nexxus where learning is transformed through the use of an appropriate tool and a passionate teacher. My goal is to find other passionate teachers to join me in this journey and help transform education for the 21st century and beyond.

3 thoughts on “Makerspaces and Design at ISTE 2013

  1. Thanks, Jessica! “I argue that learning, ideally, should involve opportunities to create (make things and try out ideas), personalize (connect activities to personal interests), share (create for and with others), and reflect (think about the difference between one’s current situation and one’s aspirations).” -Karen Brennen,, 06/25/13.

    • Thanks, Michael! The link you shared is great! I appreciate the quote that you shared as well. Is your school one that is looking into Makerspaces?

      • No, but I’m finding these ideas in lots of places and it’s very exciting. Have fun – we attended ISTE in Minneapolis years ago – saw a Twins game!

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