The humble beginnings of our makerspace in the library – a collaborative effort between Steve Draper, Evan Watkins, Pam Saunders and me – have got me thinking about alternative learning spaces other than the traditional classroom, eg student-driven learning, passion-driven learning and hands-on, collaborative learning.
Much has been written about the importance of tinkering, play and unstructured learning which takes problem-solving, collaborative learning and risk-taking into an unthreatening space. Although we obviously can’t throw out what we do in the classroom in favour of hands-on, unstructured activity, I’m still convinced that a conversation about this kind of learning will be valuable. Of course, students in the visual and performing arts do it all the time. And don’t get me started on that; we should try to understand the value of the Arts for the playing out of the learning process, and not just look at it with the career as end point.
Updating the makerspace activity. LittleBits have brought different groups of students throughout the day. We could do without the little horn but never mind.
The conversation coming from a group of students tinkering away is an interesting one. I’ve been thinking about the difference between this space and its offered activities and the traditional classroom. The boxes of bits and pieces catches the attention of passing students who might come and see what it’s about. You can almost hear the cogs whirring in the brain as fingers turn bits around to make sense of how each bit works. A relaxed conversation follows, with questioning and ‘what ifs’ going in any direction, free from the confines of predetermined outcomes. The students own the activity. They choose how they stay, whether or not they read the manual.
Experimentation does not involve high-stakes risks. Right and wrong hold no judgement; it’s just a matter of trying a different way if it doesn’t work the first time. And there’s always someone to ask if you’re stuck.
There’s an element of mindfulness here; the activity relaxes as it engages. There is potential to bring together students who have not come together before. And most of all it’s a happy space.
Can we envision this kind of space for a classroom?
I said I’d come back and share the zines we saw yesterday at the unconference at The Library at the Dock and a few snaps of the workshop.
Ashley and Sarah are very creative and ran the zine workshop as well as doing the infographics (not sure what you actually call these visual captures that evolve during a talk). You can see more of their lovely little books/zines on their website.
We have a few ideas about how to use zines in our own library. There’s something lovely about handmade, small booklets for things like promotional material. It would also be nice to offer a zine making session for our students.
And since we are on the topic of making things…
Some of the 3D printed artifacts. These bunnies have the best view.
And here are the visual summaries created by Ashley and Sarah during the talks and performance at the unconference. I’ve just found out it’s called sketchnoting.
Some great captures of Abe’s most compelling messages.
The whole day was a visual feast – with the gorgeous views
and beautiful library displays.
What makes a successful (un)conference? If at the end of the day participants are buzzing with ideas, happy with new connections – add to that a gorgeous location, beautifully designed new library with water views and perfect weather – you have a winning event. Thank you to the organisers of Outside the Lines: Third Biennial Youth Unconference 2015, for such a day.
It is your chance to gain insight into what young adults are interested in, how libraries can support and collaborate with them and how we can broaden our thinking about young people into a more creative, flexible and innovative framework that will take libraries outside the lines.
By participating you will have the opportunity to: Hear first-hand from young people and their experiences with the library and community organisations.
Here is the link to most of my tweets and those of others at the unconference. I think you’ll get a good idea of what the day was about through this Storify and the photos included.
In the afternoon we had a chance to take part in activities such as making zines, playing around with virtual reality and learning about 3D printing. We are keen to start some sort of Makerspace at MHS. Catherine and I loved the zines and would like to try a session at school. I have some photos of the zines displayed but it’s late now so I’ll keep them for another post.