Move over desks and chalkboards – today's education is much more interactive and hands-on thanks to makerspaces. Here's a closer look at the rise of makerspaces in Australia and how they're driving greater creativity, collaboration and problem-solving in the classroom.
What's a makerspace?
Makerspaces, also known as hackerspaces and fablabs, are special-purpose workshops where students can gather together in order to share knowledge and resources, collaborate and build projects. Due to their emphasis on technology and innovation, you'll often find makerspaces in community centres, libraries or classrooms featuring a variety of technologies including 3D printers, mobile devices, robotics and more.
Why makerspaces are significant
Unlike traditional classrooms, makerspaces are centres of self-directed, participatory learning where students are encouraged to follow the direction of their interests and strengths. For example, students might use a makerspace to design and build robotic toys for a competition or to develop a new software game. But most importantly, makerspaces provide the time and space for students of all ages to:
- Play, explore and test new ideas.
- Develop a culture of curiosity, problem-solving and innovation.
- Learn real-life skills in computer programming and electronics.
- Develop an early interest in careers such as science and engineering.
Studies have shown that participatory learning leads to higher student motivation, greater self-confidence and increased cognitive ability. With their ability to encourage multidisciplinary thinking in a peer-supported environment, it's no wonder makerspaces are popping up all over educational institutions across Australia and beyond.
The makerspace movement in Australia
For the past decade, the makerspace culture has been steadily making inroads in Australia. Take The Edge in Brisbane as an example. A dedicated makerspace designed to promote art, technology and enterprise in the Queensland community, this state-of-the-art facility gives students and professionals alike free access to:
- Cameras, zoom recorders and tablets.
- Professional audio and video-editing tools.
- Resources for web and app development, game design and animation.
- Tours, events, meet-ups and workshops.
With The Edge being the first makerspace library of its kind in Australia, it's providing an exciting template for educators looking to respond to the challenges of 21st century students who, more than ever, are facing a complex set of environmental, social and economic pressures. As more educators come to embrace the concept of participatory learning as a way to equip students to face those challenges, we can expect to see a lot more makerspaces in the years ahead.
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