Though the maker movement has deep roots, this learning strategy has recently been attracting lots of attention in the world of education. Founded mainly on project-based learning, the maker movement in the classroom utilizes all the facets of an integrated curriculum. Encouraging students to become makers allows them to work on realistic problems, collaborate with others, and take control of their learning.
Essentially, the maker movement embodies hands-on learning strategies while also making use of current technology. Hence, the strategy of making empowers students by promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) practices. Furthermore, the maker movement provides students with a tangible end goal, since the process of making ultimately results in a product.
What Is the Maker Movement?
Ad Week defines the maker movement as follows: “The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers … a convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers.”
At first glance, this definition of the maker movement seems wide-ranging and somewhat cluttered. However, the eclectic combination of traditional tinkering and modern computer programming is what makes this learning strategy viable in the classroom. In today’s tech-friendly world, students need to be adept in a variety of computer skills and fluent in Internet networking. Yet, concrete skills such as being able to produce a model, deconstruct and reassemble a device, and using physical tools are still necessary. In other words, students need a balance of technical know-how and real-world skills.
Is the Maker Movement Here to Stay?
Edutopia notes that the maker movement is here to stay although some factors have to be considered. As educators around the world look to refocus on creating fully blended classrooms, it’s easy for some to be skeptical about the longevity of certain educational trends. The reality is that technology has become integral to education. In many ways, aspects of the maker movement are important to education. Tinkering, inventing, and designing all correlate to the goals of many Ed Tech tools.
However, the maker movement as it exists in a classroom setting mandates educators having a firm grasp on any tools being utilized. That is to say, teachers play the role of coaches and facilitators in a project-based learning environment, according to Edutopia. Hence, it is necessary that if students are doing a project that relies on a 3-D printer, the teacher has adequate knowledge of the device and can troubleshoot when needed. Often well-designed educational technology falls to the wayside due to lack of proper training or unfamiliarity. For example, if a school district purchases smart boards, but then does not train teachers how to use them, the device potentially loses value. If teachers can’t use the technology to its full capabilities, then it appears to be a waste of resources.
So-called educational fads are often ephemeral due to poor execution. The maker movement has a permanent place in the modern classroom as long as it is approached with the right mindset. Technology itself is not a means to an end in the classroom. Instead, technology is the responsibility of educators, Ed Tech creators, and policymakers to collaborate and make sure it is being used effectively. That is why the term fully blended has become so applicable to educational settings, as intermediate solutions simply aren’t enough.