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). Open to all disciplines, the MILL represents a step towards reframing teacher education, providing the next generation of teachers with hands and minds-on skills to become designers of their future creative classrooms. Furthermore, the space is intended to bring together researchers from diverse disciplines to foster new collaborations and synergistic research. The space is designed to encourage as much flexibility, transparency, and accessibility as possible. From the floor to ceiling glass walls that will welcome and intrigue individuals just walking by the space, to the the always-open-to-all transparent storage spaces to support visibility of materials and tools, the space will be a space for designing, tinkering, hacking and making.
With the space under renovations currently, the space will open fall semester 2015. It will be open for use in a variety of ways. The primary audience for the space is undergraduate and graduate students in the school of education. The room is secured with key card access so they will need to request access, but it will be largely available for students to use throughout the week.
Tools and materials really are an important part of a makerspace as they can directly influence the design of a product. The space will have a variety of high tech and low tech materials for use. For example, multiple 3D printers (Ultimaker 2) with a wide variety of filament options will be available, a lasercutter/etcher (Full Spectrum Hobby 5th generation laser), arduino kits and parts, LEGO, sewing machines and materials, sewable circuit kits, and prototyping materials such as cardboard, and foam-board.
Use of the space will be free for all students and is being funded by the School of Education. The School of Education is working to obtain a certain amount of renewable donor funding in order to maintain free us of the space for the future.
Currently, there is not a dedicated staff for the makerspace. Rather, there will be a cadre of graduate assistants working with a variety of faculty members that will receive training and be available for overseeing the space. A small number of faculty grants were awarded with a clear objective to hire and support hourly workers that will assist in the space and on research projects.
Much of the learning that occurs in the space will be self-guided. There will be a small library of books and resources, as well as access to online resources. However, there will also be opportunities to have workshop/training meetings to learn more about the space. Different Maker events will be hosted throughout the year to promote and encourage people to use the space.
This will be determined largely once the space is open this fall. However, during the spring semester, a ‘Mini-Maker Faire’ was held as part of the IST Conference 2015. This student run conference from the department of Instructional Systems Technology also featured Dr. Kylie Peppler as a Keynote speaker to formally announce the space. The space will also host hackdays, workshops, and open hours for any student, faculty or staff member to come in and use the facilities.
Shifting the culture in the school of education is a primary focus of the new MILL space. Much learning can be achieved through hands on exploration and problem solving with materials. We feel that too often students, especially graduate students, come to school with a wealth of past practical design experience with a wide range of materials, yet when they are taking classes are forced to simply sit at a computer for hours on end every day. The MILL space seeks to encourage students, faculty and staff to use their creativity and come to the space to create designs and prototypes that encourage learning. Of particular note, a mobile maker-cart will be available for teachers to take part of the space to their classrooms. By not confining the making to a single lab or space, we hope to shift the culture to encourage exploration, design, play, as well as creativity.
Throughout the development and planning of the space, it is difficult to manage and keep a wide variety of individuals focused on the task at hand. The planning committee was made-up of faculty and staff member from a wide variety of programs throughout the school of education. While this created its own challenges for planning meetings, we were able to form subcommittees to work on specific tasks. This helped to divide up the responsibilities of all involved and helped to keep the process moving forward.
In designing our space, we sought to have a space that really focuses on openness, accessibility, and flexibility. The design features an entire glass wall along the hallway, so that anyone passing by will be able to look in and see the tools and the activities of the space. Open clear storage bins and containers will be used to allow easy access to materials and tools. Adjustable height tables, dimmable lights, and having all furniture on wheels will help to accommodate learners of all needs, and creates a space that can be easily reconfigured for future use.