Monday, March 6, 2017

Creating a Makerspace/Fab Lab - Space and Big Ideas

I have yet to mention the stuff that I have put into the space.  I may mention some here, but this takes a back seat to the people that will or will not decide to make the room a success.  The stuff isn't going anywhere.

Consider Your Perspective

So, the perspective that you have depends on your position relative to the space that you are creating.  If you are a teacher, principal, or district admin, then there are different considerations.  I am a district admin, so I have a set of things that I need to think about for successful implementation.  Namely, I cannot be the cheerleader for this project.  If I swoop in and deliver a great room, but have not gotten the principal involved or worked with the principal to have a shared and clear vision, then they will not be the cheerleader for it.  Regardless of all the work that we do, if there are not teachers who want to own the space, then this work is going to fail.  Just keep that in mind as this drives the rest of this post.

Stuff vs Space

Stuff is cool.  Students need stuff to use to create.  Teachers need to have a buy in that the stuff will help their students create and learn. Should "stuff dominate the room?"  I think that it shouldn't.  Many of our spaces are coming from old computer labs, they have enough power and data going to the space (see last blog post for why).  So, I want to gut these spaces.  I do not want a computer lab to continue to be a computer lab.  I want to make sure there is space.  2 reasons.

  1. It can cut cost by focusing on the space.
  2. Students need space to work with the stuff.

Large Ideas to Consider

Here are some pictures that I created for what I want our spaces to look like.  I was using the chrome app Floorplanner so there are definite limitations to what I can make.  What I was trying to make.

  • The tables in the center of the room would be standing height, folding, with wheels for storage against the wall.
  • The long bench against the wall under the tools would be the shelf provided by Trash for Teaching.
  • The computers in the corner would be connected to the 3D printer and vinyl cutter depicted by laser printers.
  • Greenscreen is actually fabric hanging from PVC.

Collaboration: Computers connected to LED TV's are great.  So are tables with whiteboards on them.  I was thinking about cost and durability.  So I was using tables with regular tops and wall mounted whiteboards.  Low tech, but who cares.  put too much tech in a room and teachers may be intimidated to work there.  This is to be a room for all teachers to bring their students to create.

Creation: Students working at the tables need space to put things and space to try things out.  I know there are fancy shaped tables, but large rectangles have space on them.  Between the space they have on them and the stuff and tools that they can use (see students will be able to create in this space.

Sharing: How can students take what they have done in this room and integrate writing standards and communication?  How can this room fuel the communication of the amazing things that your school does?  Let kids be creative and create videos to articulate their thinking and design.  Give them a green screen to open some doors.  Mine are mobile. Why? Painting walls can be expensive and there are laws about putting flammable articles on the walls in a room.  This allows for green screen use in a corner or somewhere else (in or out of the classroom).

Remember that if you are not telling your school's story, then somebody else is.  If your students are telling the story, then there is huge buy in to what you are doing.  It is impossible to fake student voice.


Don't forget.  All of this is worthless if people are not involved.  Not only is the design and the big idea important, but the people who you are relying on to make this a success.  Like computers in the classroom, they are not innovative.  It is the teacher and the instructional leaders who implement and push for innovative implementation that makes the experience great for teachers.

Putting a bunch of cool stuff in a room without getting their input and buy in will just tick them off or overwhelm them.

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