Learning & Development, Technology

Is There a Makerspace in Your Future?

It’s something that’s taking place in schools around the country, but it’s a concept that many companies can—and are—incorporating into their own training efforts: makerspaces.

Makerspaces are, according to Makerspaces.com, “a collaborative work space inside a school, library, or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring, and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.”
The idea is to provide employees with an opportunity to “make” something. The inception of the concept was focused around technology, and many makerspaces are technologically focused, but the concept can be considered more broad than that. Makerspaces simply provide a place for people to come together to interact, collaborate, and even play.
The “something” that is made can range from the very high tech—some 3D printed object, for instance—to the relatively low tech—posters to promote an employee event.
It’s a concept that is taking hold in health care and other industries as they address a need to bring employees up to speed and ease their comfort level with the many changes taking place around them. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was an early adopter of the concept, launching its TheMakerHealth Space in 2015.
Cities are also getting into the action. In New Rochelle, New York, for instance, an Interactive Digital Environments Alliance (IDEA) initiative has been launched to “(encourage) innovation, collaboration, research, open data and social responsibility in the fields of immersive media, artificial intelligence, digital storytelling and performance.”
Could you/should you consider introducing one, or more, makerspaces to your organization? Perhaps. Are you introducing employees to some new technology or new equipment that they may initially be a bit cautious around? Instead of a traditional training session, why not consider gathering employees together to experiment, explore, and share on their own? Hoping to spur innovation among a group of employees around a particular issue or pending change? Consider bringing them together to “play” and experiment around some core deliverable.
What makes a makerspace great? Laura Fleming outlined “The 7 Attributes of a GREAT Makerspace” in this Worlds of Learning article. They include:

  • Being personalized to unique needs/interests of participants
  • Offering opportunity for depth for those who want to learn more
  • Empowering participants to explore and experiment
  • Making materials and experiences equitable and available to all
  • Being differentiated to meet the needs of “mixed-ability” learners
  • Having a specific vision that is intentional
  • Creating an experience that is inspiring

The possibilities are limited only by your own imagination and the creative ideas of others. This Pinterest page offers examples of the “286 Best Makerspace Ideas.” It’s a good place to start for getting your creative juices flowing.

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