Transforming the TAS workshop into a maker space

This post is for Jeff, who eats crackers. One component of my thesis is about the changing nature of sites of play. There has been a lot said about technological disruption to education and the movement of space – where people learn, what they learn and who with. This is one reason I signed on for a Masters of Education in Teacher Librarianship this year, the spaces I used to occupy as a classroom teacher (the wood-shop, tech drawing room and computer lab) are no longer able applicable. Space itself has been part of convergence culture.

There are a few things going on. Media education is essential to ensure kids know what is good learning and what is disingenuous marketing and manipulation. Kids need to know how to make and use media in ways that are meaningful to them and connect to the informational future that lies ahead. Space is being reconfigured around broader educational and research needs, such that old-space-use is increasingly out of step. If you like, space is shifting from infrastructure to engagement.

If my computer space is no longer needed, in the traditional sense, then why would my wood or metal shop be needed in middle school. That is, before a time where kids would specialise in some fine-art craft such as furniture making. Clearly the design and technology space is becoming the maker-space and in that regard, media-centres such as the library are increasingly the space being used for design and technology project based learning.

This causes a rethink in terms of how we induct kids into design and technology — because there’s no need to have school-work-benches and the existing hardware associated with machine shops. Not if we’re talking about 3d printers, software, electronics. Were talking far more about post-structural ideas about craft and production that really don’t need the infrastructure that exists in school workshops.

Maker spaces might just take over libraries, of at least the idea of a library being a place to consume and check out is increasingly obsolete. Libraries can become hybrid design-shops, where knowledge and information are used for imaginative projects where people can collaborate and gather.

The design shop of the future is one which has converged with the library that has already merged information studies and media education. These places have already raided the traditional domains of specialist services such as computer labs and literacy classes anyway. In many cases, they are doing a better job that the traditional elders teachers who assume they own that space.

This is all kind of existing. A computer shop that can design, a design shop that is a library and a library that is a maker-space. I know what I’d be building.