This past weekend I attended the Fablearn 2015 Conference on Creativity and Fabrication in Education
at Stanford University. It was an amazing conference with librarians, educators, researchers and young makers from across the United States and all over the world presenting and sharing research, practices and projects about the maker movement in education.
The theme for the conference this year is equity and diversity in making. The presenters and topics reflected the theme. During the two day conference, I got to meet makers and maker educators from Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the UK; though the majority were from U.S., the international presence was there and presented interesting works and perspectives. Additionally, almost every educator and librarian I met is or will be going to host or facilitate a makerspace at their institutions: maker movement really is growing rapidly. The attendees (about 300 participants this year, growing from 30 participants in 2011) were a great combination of researchers, maker educators (school teachers, librarians, for-profit or non-profit program coordinators), and youth makers thus made the climate of the conference very energetic.
After a brief introduction by conference organizer Dr. Paulo Blikstein, the director of Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford (watch his 2011 EdLab Seminar
), Dr. Daniel Swartz
, a famous learning scientist recently named as the Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Education, gave a brief welcome talk. Drawing on his research on motivation and engagement in both hobbyists and high school students, he outlined a make agency cycle (Make-> see the fruits of your labor -> share what you've done -> overcome new challenges -> learn strategies & methods) to conceptualize making activities as an effective means to motivate learners to learn.
Most interesting and probably surprising theoretical articulation was not with Dewey (hands-on, experiential learning) or Papert (constructionism), but with Karl Marx. Marx focused on "practical knowledge" and "the means of production”, and “the critical issue who has the means of production”. These articulations reminded me of what Chris Anderson described about his journey to establish the drone company and other ideas in Maker: The New Industrial Revolution
. Essentially, new maker technologies bridge the gaps between ideas and productions; makers with some training and learning can now create amazing projects that are not accessible or affordable in the traditional commercial world.
I was excited yet overwhelmed by many great speakers, maker presenters and projects, and will continue to list them on the blog for references. I will also reflect on what I learned from my design thinking workshop at the conference.