Collab Lab 6: Notes from our breakout groups

Thanks all for a great discussion last night at Collab Lab 6 (actually, a bunch of great discussions). To recap, we framed the conversation around three questions:

  • What can your makerspace/FabLab offer teachers?
  • What problems does this solve for them?
  • What keeps them from taking advantage of it/how might those issues be addressed?

Here’s what we noted:

What can your makerspace/FabLab offer teachers?

Group 1

  • “Blood in the mouth” how do you get teachers really excited about the possibilities?
  • Take content & make it physical
  • Get students to go beyond their textbook
  • Learning to play → playing to learn
  • Relevance, rigor, application
  • Practicing Failure
  • Space designed to fit needs
  • Can become epicenter – pivotal point
  • Authentic, relevant problems to solve
  • Bring content back to experiment

Group 2

  • Additional capacities to help kids express ideas
  • Expands the pallet of tools & opportunities for teachers
  • Limited understanding of what it is
    • Ideas → ideas II → ideas III
  • Safe place
  • Capture & share stories of success
  • Show different ways of learning
  • Develop and share culture of makerspace
  • Set up to enable students pursuing passion → no mandatory activities

Group 3

  • Tools for:
    • artists to make art;
    • business classes to make a product
    • community service projects to make something useful
  • Hands on professional development for PBL
  • Support for elementary school
    • South Milwaukee: elementary school students working on symmetry design snowflakes.  Students are then paired with high schooler who helps them 3D print their designs.
  • Ad hoc opportunities to put something together
  • Attractive for students
  • It acts as a “send kids here to do that” space/ a place that allows groups of students to take on work that isn’t done easily inside a classroom
  • Provides crafting opportunities for teachers (who are then better able to generate ideas for how they could leverage the space for student projects)
  • Real world relevance
  • Provides a platform to do different (from traditional lessons) things
  • Provides a chance for students and teachers to bump into something new/exposure
  • Helps produce a change in mindset/change of pace
  • Provides a way to engage kids in a different way
  • Provides opportunities for kids to interact with students that would interact with elsewhere in the school
  • Provides application/support to teachers
  • Is able to draw funding and resources to the school
  • Provides flexible space
  • Becomes the place to address 21st century skills development
  • Makerspace lead handles prep for projects (so teachers do not)
  • The equipment is maintained and ready to go
  • It a fun space
  • It produces engaged kids

What problems does that solve for them?

Group 1

  • Amature meets expert
    • Promotes mentorship
  • Redefines learning process
    • Who are the learning for?
    • Learning how to learn

Group 2

  • A way to develop empathy
  • Instill a mentality/culture
    • Ideation
    • inquiry
  • Invest in professional development
    • Teachers are professionals
    • Lifelong learning
  • Incrementalism

Group 3

  • A way to meet requirements for PBL/development of 21st century skills
  • A new point of entry/cheap way to start with PBL
  • Allows teachers to break out of silos
  • Can attract outside funding which reduces pressure from budget constraints
  • Costs of space can be shared across multiple departments
  • Remove overhead from teachers (makerspace lead puts together projects and materials)
  • Teachers aren’t sure what they could do, makerspace lead can help frame projects
  • Shows teachers a path into PBL
  • The teacher does not need to know everything– they can rely on tech staff/students to help with equipment
  • It’s a way into learning (as opposed to educating)
  • Test scores improve among kids engaged in problem solving
  • Produces engaged students
  • Provides a change of pace
  • Provides an opportunity to model creative thinking/problem solving
  • Provides both teachers and students a safe place to fail
  • Teaches teachers 21st skills
  • Having a tech lead that can set up projects reduces stress/risk for teachers that want to take on PBL

What keeps them from taking advantage of it?

Group 1

  • Must provide learning outcomes/goals/assessment
  • Needs continued reward
  • Broken 3D printers
  • Who started it???
  • Incorrect definition of “maker”
    • Creative Space
    • Genius Bar
  • Not knowing what can be done
  • Fear
  • Needs a facilitator
  • Permission from administration
  • Parents
What would help address these issues?
  • After school volunteer club for teachers
  • Customer discovery
  • Sleeper agents → referrals
  • Having an Idea person that helps connect teachers (Librarian)

Group 2

  • Competing priorities
  • Lack of culture to stimulate risk taking
    • What is “risk” taking
  • Lack of technical skills
  • Early vs late adopters
  • Lack of development of “grit”
  • System promotes end-point learning
  • Focus on experiences, not on “things”
  • If you can see it you will want to use it
  • Absence of design drivers (shared)
    • Visitation later in the design experience.

 

Group 3

  • Teachers need hands on professional development
  • Feels risky
  • Lack of control
  • Funding
  • ROI on time
  • Teachers aren’t sure what they can give up to fit something new into schedule
  • Change is seen as a threat
  • Change is seen as “We’ve seen new ideas before, this too will go just like the rest of them”
  • Focus on equipment
  • Mentors don’t know how to work with kids — kids have kid issues
  • Focus on learning to use the equipment (technical skills) rather than an opportunity to learn in a different way
  • Self selection to participate is missing from school makerspaces, which makes it more difficult for the space to become self regulating
  • I already have my lesson plans set and they work for me.  Why would I want to give that up to try something new.

 

What would help address these issues?
  • Visibility of student work
  • Visible credit given to donors of equipment (so it is not viewed as cutting into the school budget)
  • Shift resources from equipment acquisition to developing the mindset of teachers
  • Staffing — endowed mentor/tech position
  • Mentors — Lead off with small doses so they have time to figure how to work with kids
  • Figure out how to allow users of the space to come and go on an ad hoc basis (after school?)
  • Shift the mindset of funders from equipment to professional development