06 SES 12, Makey: Acess to Digital Play and Technologies for Young Children in Makerspaces
Makerspaces provide public access to expert knowledge and equipment for digital design and fabrication. They have in Iceland, until recently, been found in fab labs encouraging maker culture in a number of urban and rural areas, but only with limited reach to school teachers and young children. Our paper describes a case study where we follow a female team of teachers and tech enthusiasts formed to establish makerspaces in the public school system, supporting teachers and young students from 6-16 years of age as makers and advocates of a maker culture. We also relate how the project has evolved in terms of successes and eventual failures in its early stages. The VEXA team is a small group of female pioneers determined to gain the necessary knowledge to enable themselves and other interested teachers to develop makerspaces. They hope to foster cross-disciplinary and technology enhanced learning (Sheridan et al., 2014), creative collaboration (Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009) and design skills within primary and lower secondary schools. They work towards self-empowerment and knowledge building, through meetings and web dissemination, course development and practical activities in at least four schools, as well as connecting to different interest groups and public agencies in the educational sector. The research aims to explore the impact of this gendered initiative and the transformations it may promote. It also examines the context of the makerspaces and their potential to promote play, inclusion and collaboration (Marsh et al., 2017). Our theoretical approach for this research is located within the post-Vygotskian and post-human tradition, that assists us in making sense of how young makers learn through culturally and situated activities (Kontopodis & Kumpulainen, 2018). The interaction, tensions and contradictions of the activities observed are discussed as well as aspects of gendered approaches that might impact on learning and transformation of learners in the school communities. The research examines learning on a personal, relational and institutional level, reviewing personal values and practices of participants and what characterizes their social interactions, agency and empowerment. It inquires about the social and material resources needed to support diverse engagements, digital literacies and creative design skills, and attempts to map how makerspaces can be integrated into school practice in alignment with curricular objectives.
Kontopodis, M., & Kumpulainen, K. (2018). Researching Young Children’s Engagement and Learning in Makerspaces: Insights from Post-Vygotskian and Post-Human Perspectives. Unpublished Manuscript.. Marsh, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nisha, B., Velicu, A., Blum-Ross, A., Hyatt, D., . . . Thorsteinsson, G. (2017). Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review Accessed at: http://makeyproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Makey_Literature_Review.pdf Sawyer, R. K., & DeZutter, S. (2009). Distributed creativity: How collective creations emerge from collaboration. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 81-92. Sheridan, K., Halverson, E. R., Litts, B., Brahms, L., Jacobs-Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014). Learning in the Making: A Comparative Case Study of Three Makerspaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-531. doi:10.17763/haer.84.4.brr34733723j648u
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