As an institution, how would you define 'maker culture'?

For Indiana University, making means a shift in the education culture to encourage and support hands-on and minds-on learning and problem framing, allowing students to develop their innovative, experimental, and exploratory projects in diverse facilities both on-campus and within the community.

How does your institution foster maker culture?

Indiana University fosters maker culture through research-practice partnerships, cross-campus initiatives, and a diverse range of research projects on making and taking a leadership role nationally within the maker culture. Dr. Peppler leads Make-to-Learn (, a nationwide effort that leverages DIY culture, digital practices, and educational research to advocate for placing making, creating, and designing at the core of educational practice. Research-practice partnerships include collaborations between university centers and local, nationwide and international makerspaces, crafters and events. Cross-campus initiatives at Indiana University include the Bloomington campus School of Education has plans for a new Fab@School educational space, which they are calling the MILL (Make, Innovate, Learning Lab) to support teaching and learning with new digital fabrication technologies; the School of Fine Arts is reorganizing new spaces to accommodate new FabLab equipment and is seeing an overhaul of the existing curriculum to include new technologies across all levels of the curriculum; IU’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT, has plans underway to support innovative uses of technology on campus through a hands-on digital lab, interactive displays of new technologies, and shared workspace; and also on the five-year plan, the School of Informatics and Computing is preparing to open a new state of the art FabLab center to coincide with the opening of their new building. Other cross-campus initiatives include IU Makes (, a group of faculty students, staff and community members interested in making. Individual research projects on making and maker culture include work on electronic textiles, traditional crafting and its relation to STEM education, ethnographic research on making, and open portfolios for youth makers.

How are you approaching maker education with your current or future curricula?

The IU School of Education, under the leadership of Dean Gerardo Gonzalez, just recently designated $50,000 for the awarding of new faculty grants to research making and makerspaces. Seven faculty received support for the hiring of students, research collaborations with local schools, innovative use of materials, and new lines of faculty research that will happen over the course of the next year. Research projects, including development of equitable maker curriculum for K-12 education are also part of the research at the School of Education.

What are the key programs, initiatives or classes that support the development of maker skills?

There are plans to officially initiate a Maker minor (Make-to-Learn) for graduate and undergraduate students that is cross-listed between Fine Arts, Education, and Informatics. The new minor will prepare students to think, create, and innovate, as well as build a new technological workforce that are in high demand at all levels of educational institutions. The new minor will offer four courses: 3D Modeling & Rapid Prototyping, Arduino & Physical Computing, Special Topics (with guest lecturers by visiting researchers), and Educational Theory that includes a Course Practicum. These four core courses will provide the basic building blocks of an innovative STEM education, with the addition of art as a critical component resulting in STEAM. Make-to-Learn’s initiative will be learning by creating and doing, transforming the way information is taught and understood across disciplines. The four core classes in Make-to-Learn will teach critical STEM and design skills, and prepare to share these skills with others.

How are your students involved in making? Are there maker groups or organizations on campus organized by students?

Students are involved with a variety of activities around making, including being encouraged and supported to develop entrepreneurial culture around their maker practices at Indiana University, also as part of IU’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan.

One way for students to get involved with making is through the Fine Arts and School of Education faculty organized IU Makes community (, a series of maker-related workshops and talks that has attracted makers nationwide, and has led IU outreach workshops and jewelry workshops for local middle-school girls using 3D modeling software and 3D printers. More recently, IU Makes attracted attention of Intel Perceptual Computing Lab where Lab Director and interaction designer visited IU and provided hands-on workshop on perceptual computing tool kits. Further, specifically oriented towards fostering female representation in technology oriented professional, Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT, is a place for students of any gender identity to come together in workshops that support the development of specific maker skills. Additionally, the student-run 3D printing and open source electronics club, BFabs, has demonstrated digital fabrication software and hardware at the local, state, and national level.

Give a snapshot overview of the primary facilities, technologies and tools that campus makers have or will have access to?

At Indiana University, there is a strong commitment to encourage learning through making. While there have been pockets of maker activity in the past, we are pleased to be in the process of beginning a new phase of making and learning. The following is an overview of four initiatives that are currently underway, or are in the design phases of construction:

The MILL – The IU School of Education will house a Fab@School educational space, called the Make, Innovate, Learning Lab (MILL) and is under renovation to be completed summer 2015. Upon completion, the MILL will support teaching and learning with new digital fabrication technologies, framing Indiana University’s School of Education as a leader in the maker education movement by offering a dedicated space for undergraduates, pre-service teachers, graduate students, associate instructors, research assistants, faculty and staff members to come and learn, teach, and research through making in this space, as well as existing community outreach programs. With the mission to connect departments within the School, the MILL presents a hands on learning environment of high-tech materials (e.g., laser cutters, 3D printers, arduinos), and low-tech materials (e.g., Lego, cardboard, tape, fabric, and sewing machines).

IU Fine Arts Think Tank ( – The School of Fine Arts is reorganizing new spaces to accommodate new FabLab equipment and is seeing an overhaul of the existing curriculum to include new technologies across all levels of the curriculum.

IU CEWiT Space – The Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT) ( has plans underway to support innovative uses of technology on campus through a hands-on digital lab, interactive displays of new technologies, and shared workspace.

New FabLab @ IU – On the university's 5-year strategic plan, there are new plans within School of Informatics and Computing to open a new state-of-the-art FabLab center to coincide with the opening of their new building. Planning is underway to guide the development of this space. The MILL space in the School of Education is tied to this larger 

How does your school engage with the maker community at large?

The Creativity Labs team at the School of Education have a regular presence at major Maker Faires as well as smaller Mini Maker Faires and non-branded maker events communicating research results to practitioners. Through international events, the lab also advocates maker culture and research findings around makerspaces and making to a broader international arena. Additionally, the lab members organize Maker workshops, and unbranded mini maker faires on campus and within the national community of makers, created a maker cart for a local project school, and regularly facilitate workshops nationwide (for educators and students), present at conferences, and write journal and book publications on making.

What partnerships (informal or formal) do you have with makers and/or community organizations outside of campus?

The Creativity Labs ( at Indiana University partners nationally with such names in the Maker Movement as Maker Ed (, Make (, The National Writing Project (, and has ongoing working partnerships with national funders such as the MacArthur Foundation, the Moore Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

Community outreach and volunteer services have been rendered by many graduate students in the area of making and learning. Service workshops in the areas of e-textiles, circuitry, 3D printing, and other maker activities were offered to community organizations by students of several schools, including the School of Education, the School of Information, and School of Fine Arts. All of these outreach and service-learning opportunities have been very successful, are increasing in enrollment and involve people throughout campus and community. In particular, several workshops have been geared towards professional development of teachers and school leaders to encourage learning through making beginning at a young age. We have also seen students render volunteer services at local library teen centers, local after-school makerspaces, and many other locations working with youth and adults. Here is a selection of some of our regional service-learning and mentoring partners:

IUMakes ( is a community of people who are interested in using innovative technologies and software along with traditional tools and materials to create things. It combines lectures, demonstrations, workshops to create a network for discussion, dialogue, and possible collaboration

Monroe County Public Library ( has diverse ongoing initiatives, including the opening of their new teen digital creativity center, ongoing drop-in maker programming, and Maker Days of Summer.

The Bloomington Project School ( partnered with IU faculty and students for the design of a mobile MakerCart, which includes a laser cutter and other makerspace staples. The Bloomington Project School is continuing their MakerCart programming, leading the way in maker and fab educational programming in K-8 nationally.

BloomingLabs ( is an adult and youth serving hackerspace that was co-founded by an IU staff member. It recently relocated into a larger space, becoming an leader in making in Bloomington by offering a diverse range of equipment and workspaces to community members.

Makevention ( is an annual showcase for regional makers to share their creations and resources. It is hosted by BloomingLabs at the Bloomington Convention Center, and has attracted more than one thousand makers last year.

CraneTech ( is a recently opened makerspace by the Crane Naval Base in Perry, IN, launching new educational programming this year. Graduate students have volunteered and participated in the afterschool programming. Indiana University was consulted in the early stages of planning the space and Crane Naval Base.

Besides regional research-practice partnerships, Indiana University has established relationships with diverse youth serving makerspaces across the country, including spaces in libraries, museums, schools and after-school centers. Furthermore, collaborations include strong and regular partnerships with other leaders in the field of maker education, including the Maker Education Initiative and the National Writing Project. 

What has been the impact of maker culture on your campus?

While the impact of maker culture on campus is difficult to capture and measure, it is clearly being shown through the renovation and creation of makerspaces throughout the campus. The addition of dedicated makerspaces/FabLabs will allow students to work on a variety of project. So much of higher education has turned to students sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time. Certainly innovative digital creations occur and new ideas are generated in this way, but the culture is also shifting to include more hands on tinkering, experimentation, prototyping and learning in these new makerspaces. We have seen the excitement of children and teachers alike when they create an artifact such as e-textile LED bookmark to learn about circuitry. Or the creativity demonstrated by making a paper roller coaster to learn about the laws of motion. These kinds of maker activities are energetic and exciting and are helping to shift the culture of learning through making on campus.

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

One example of a story that highlights our commitment to a maker culture at Indiana University would be the tale of BloomingLabs ( BloomingLabs is an adult- and youth-serving hackerspace that was co-founded by an IU staff member and was initially supported by university funds. It recently relocated into a larger space, becoming not only a self-sufficient maker space but is now a leader in making in Bloomington that offers a diverse range of equipment and workspaces to community members.