As the maker movement in education gains speed, more and more initiatives are seeking data to show the value of the makerspace as classroom and the creative technologies they contain. One such project, seeking to understand the benefits of student-directed learning and making has come from HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom initiative called the Learning Studios Project. The Learning Studios project is a network of schools willing to try projects and explore technologies, then share their experiences through anecdotes and pre and post surveys. The aim of the project study is to collect qualitative information about changes in engagement, agency, empathy and design thinking in students.
A Learning Studio was created at each site by providing teacher’s with a guide to facilitating student-led, creative processes, as well as a startup kit of free creative technologies to explore. For instance, each Learning Studio site was provided a set of Makey Makeys and two live webinars with JoyLabz (Makey Makey) VP of Education Initiatives, Tom Heck. "We've thoroughly enjoyed partnering with Digital Promise Global on the Learning Studios project," shares Tom. "Working together, we've been able to support teachers and students from around the world." Teachers could choose from many possible projects using various tools and prompts. After four months of projects, teachers shared the following highlights of using the Makey Makey kits in their classrooms;
Makey Makey kits are accessible to learners across varying ages and skill levels
Students do not not need close supervision or guidance to experiment with the Makey Makey kits.
Makey Makey kits help educators introduce basic circuitry concepts and build on those concepts by using the kits in more complex projects.
Projects using the Makey Makey kits do not need to focus solely on circuitry--they can pertain to a wide range of subjects and topics.
The Makey Makey kits make it easy and fun for parents to engage with what students are learning
Sample projects made with the Makey Makey ranged from game design to set design for a school play. “Our students designed, performed and hosted a holiday production at their school. They created an interactive experience of “magic” by configuring the Makey Makeys to trigger sounds when actors, actresses and audience members interacted with the props and scenes,” a 6th grade teacher from a USA site shares.
A highschool teacher in New Zealand shared that “Students selected a game and then worked on creating a game controller that will be effective as a control, but also reflect the nature of the game. This stage involved them creating 2D drawings and then a cardboard model to allow them to determine how the controller would feel in a player’s hand. The models (were) then created using CAD software and exported for printing on a 3D printer. The challenge (was) then completing the wiring to allow the Makey Makey board to operate as a game controller.”
Broader areas of focus in the study centered around student benefits in three areas; peer and social learning, persistence and curiosity, and agency and initiative. Significant findings from all of the Learning Studio sites showed increases in student and teacher confidence and comfort using new tools, 3D modeling, and defining problems. A key finding from the white paper states, “Student responses to “Are you a maker” were significantly lower for teachers with little making background, and were relatively high for students of teachers who reported prior experience with making and facilitating students in making activities. In other words, role models matter when trying to foster creative confidence and peer relations in a space designed for collaborative problem solving.
Read the full initial findings from the HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom Learning Studios Project here.