Catching up with the Maker Learning Collaborative

What’s the state of maker learning? How is the maker movement evolving? Catch up on the latest with Sunanna Chand, Remake Learning Director and lead of the Maker Learning Collaborative.

It’s right there in the name: Remake Learning. Maker learning has had a huge presence within the network since before the beginning. Teachers and students are attracted to the hands-on, minds-on learning that only comes at the intersection of curiosity and creativity, that place we’ve come to call making.

But as with any emerging trend that becomes a dominant force, it bears checking in on: what is maker learning anyway? What is it right now? What will it be next?

The Maker Learning Collaborative is the working group of Remake Learning that digs into these questions. Remake Learning director Sunanna Chand leads the collaborative and has this to share about the past, present, and future of maker learning.

One of the projects rolling out of the Maker Learning Collaborative is the upcoming, What do I do with this stuff? event series. Where’d the idea come from and what’s it gonna be like?

I’m really excited about this one. The idea came out of the State of Maker Learning Summit last year: how might we help members who have access to some maker tools and equipment, but don’t know what to do with it in an educational context.

Year in, year out, people find themselves with closets full of old stuff they don’t want to get rid of, or teachers inherit some equipment when they’re in a new position, or they’ve gotten a grant and purchased the latest piece of instructional technology. So we hear questions ranging from “What can I do with an old overhead machine” to “How do I actually teach with a 3D printer?”

It’s going to be unlike other convenings we’ve had. It’ll be more of a party feel with lots of interactivity. We want people to bring something with them, maybe some old electronics or a piece of equipment they don’t know how to use—something they want to figure out. It’ll be a vibe we don’t usually have in the network.

Think Antiques Roadshow: bring something you don’t know anything about, leave with some answers.

People can sign up on Eventbrite now.

In October, Maker Ed, the national nonprofit leading the charge for maker learning, will host its annual convening in Pittsburgh. What should we be looking forward to?

Maker education and the maker movement has been going through a lot of changes in the last six months. We said goodbye to Make Media, which was a huge standard bearer for the national maker movement—hosting Maker Faire, publishing Make Magazine. It’s the end of an era, but also a time for new opportunities, an opportunity to start the next era.

That’s why it’s really exciting to see how Kyle Cornforth at MakerEd is refreshing the vision and values for maker learning. Kyle is bringing in a broader and more expansive definition of what maker is, bringing in the many cultures of making and creating opportunities for practitioners to be positioned as experts even more.

So we’re excited that this national convening is coming to Pittsburgh and that our community is still a hub for maker learning. A lot of this is thanks to the leadership of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Their deep thinking about space, programming, people drives maker-centered learning in our region and across the country.

Make For All recently announced more than 50 commitments to expand maker-centered learning across the U.S. How did Pittsburgh show up for this national moment?

Real big. The Pittsburgh region accounted for one-fifth of all commitments. In classic Remake Learning style, the commitments came from all different types of organizations: institutional providers like the Boys & Girls Club, innovative charter schools like Propel Schools, small neighborhood organizations like the Millvale Community Library, public school districts like New Castle, even the Community College of Allegheny County. It was a really diverse cohort of commitments, a total cross sector of the network. It felt like the region renewed our commitment to maker learning, really showing up in a great and positive way.

Through lots of changes, maker learning has been a mainstay of the network. What’s important to keep in mind about maker learning now?

While there are a lot of foci in Remake Learning, it’s important to know that maker learning continues to be one of them. It’s to remind ourselves that our region is home to more than 200 educational maker spaces. That shows remarkable commitment. You can see them all on the map. I’d encourage everyone to check it out and, if your makerspace is missing, add it to the map. Let’s make it together.

Published August 13, 2019