For the last year, working groups focused on maker-centered learning and research in the League of Innovative Schools have joined forces to focus on the research behind the national wave of enthusiasm in maker learning. This working group’s first online meeting featured Dr. Kylie Peppler discussing the topic of creative learning opportunities and outcomes in maker learning environments. Their second meeting featured Dr. Edward Clapp, a senior research manager at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and director of the university’s Agency by Design initiative, to discuss the current state of learning-through-making in schools.
Dr. Clapp and meeting participants dove into questions like, What is making? What is its value in education? How will this movement develop next? Phyllis Meade, from Henry County Public Schools in Virginia, tuned into Dr. Clapp’s webinar to help keep her district’s program aligned with best practices in research. She said, “We are in the process of implementing maker spaces with fidelity. We want to know more about assessing our program.”
Dr. Clapp focused on the ways that maker education contributes to developing a sense of self and agency in learners, which he called “maker empowerment.” He described this empowerment as the confluence of three things: a sensitivity to notice the designed dimension of the world, and the inclination and capacity to (re-)design objects and systems in response.
The first two webinars in the Maker Learning Research webinar series have been both productive and motivating for participating district leaders. “In general, I feel more confident in our roll out efforts knowing that we are on the right path; however, there are some specific points that we will be sure to incorporate as a result of this webinar, such as posing questions instead of seeking answers,” reported Mary Wegner, Superintendent of Sitka School District in Alaska.
Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, which will feature the research of Paula Hooper, Shirin Vossoughi, and Meg Escudé on the topic of equity in maker learning environments.