Challenging makerspaces

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  • Kjetil Sandvik
  • Klaus Thestrup
This paper takes its departure in the EU-project MakEY - Makerspaces in the early years – enhancing digital literacy and creativity that is part of a H2020 RISE-program and is running January 2017 - June 2019. Here digital literacy and creative skills of young children between the age of 3-8 will be developed through participation in creative activities in specially-designed spaces termed ‘makerspaces’. This paper discusses, develops and challenges this term in relation to Danish pedagogical traditions, to expanding makerspaces onto the internet and on how to combine narratives and construction. The Danish part of the project will be undertaken by a small network of partners: DOKK1, a public library and open urban space in Aarhus, that is experimenting with different kind of makerspaces, spaces and encounters between people, The LEGO-LAB situated at Computer Science, Aarhus University, that has developed a number of work space activities on children and technology and finally Katrinebjergskolen, a public school that has built a new multi-functional room, that among other things are meant for makerspaces and new combinations of media and materials. This group will work with the notion of Next Practice Labs, a combined pedagogical and research method to engage children, staff and researchers, where the focus is the joint development of the next practice based on mutual play and experiments. These labs can be in pre-defined spaces or erected momentarily according to needs but include in principle all media and all materials in combinations, where new uses of technology and narratives or new technologies and narratives can be invented. The laboratory itself is open to new combinations and open to the surrounding world through digital and global communication (Thestrup, Andersen, Jessen, Knudsen & Sandvik 2015). In these Next Practice Labs the idea of the makerspace will be used and taken to the next level and include communication, play and experimenting to create a situation, where the participants can use any emerging technology and continuously unfold and develop digital literacy and creativity across different makerspaces. This will happen in a process, where DOKK1, Katrinebjergskolen and the LEGO-LAB in the first phase each will develop and run locally functioning Next Practice Labs, then in the second phase start exchanging and producing with each other and in the third and final phase communicate out towards other makerspaces. The Robot technology, programming and other actual digital production and communication technologies will be part of the experiments. During the project the very notion of makerspace will be expanded. It will be discussed how and when makerspaces can use synchronous and asynchronous communication as part of the very creative processes inside and between maker spaces. These maker spaces can be based in the same physical space or virtually or a combination. There already exist vital examples of how this can be done (Peppler, Halverson & Kafai 2016). Narratives and construction will be combined in ways, where both sides support each other as technologies for experimenting, telling and discussing important questions in life. Processes of narrating and constructing will be deconstructed and re-mixed in principle to new narratives and constructions. The already existing tradition in Denmark where kindergartens, after school clubs and also schools conduct practical activities in informal pedagogical settings, will be used as part of a renewed framework for future makerspaces.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventNordMedia 2017: Mediated Realities - Global Challenges - University of Tampere, Finland
Duration: 17 Aug 201719 Aug 2017


ConferenceNordMedia 2017
LocationUniversity of Tampere
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