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Celebrating new ‘maker space’

November 12, 2015

The maker movement at the Indiana University School of Education now has a space of its own. The school is opening the Make Innovate Learn Lab, a creative space available for tinkering, crafting, prototyping and exploring creative solutions to pedagogical problems.

The MILL provides opportunities for students and faculty who are involved in the increasingly popular maker culture or maker movement, which combines a do-it-yourself ethos with technological innovation to develop new approaches to teaching subjects ranging from art literacy to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The maker movement is a national and international movement that is about using tools and materials to make and build things,” says Kylie Peppler, associate professor of learning sciences in the School of Education and director of the lab. “And this could be everything ranging from crafting to high-tech designs made with laser cutters and 3-D printers.”

The lab, on the second floor of the Wright Education Building, is a multipurpose creative space equipped with a variety of art materials, sewing machines, hand tools and other equipment, including a laser cutter and 3-D printers. The space is intended to create a free flow of ideas, inspiring students and faculty to explore new tools, techniques and materials that can be used in classrooms.

Watch a video showcasing the new MILL:

“The opening of the MILL represents a major step forward for the School of Education as a national and international leader in the use of technology to advance learning and teaching,” says Terry Mason, interim dean of the School of Education. “We are indebted to Professor Peppler, the faculty committee and a number of graduate students for their outstanding work to make this possible.”

During the 2014-15 school year, Peppler headed an interdisciplinary committee including faculty in science education, art education, instructional systems technology, learning sciences and other departments, which designed and implemented the lab.

“In the School of Education, the lab gives us an opportunity to transform how we think about preservice and in-service teaching,” Peppler says. “We are positioning teachers as designers of new educational landscapes rather than consumers of the educational content that is being delivered to them.”

The space will be used by students and faculty for a variety of classes and projects. This fall the lab awarded mini-grants to seven faculty members for projects that included IU classes and school collaborations encompassing learning through play, design technology, an after-school robotics club, and literacy and science studies.

Nationally, the maker movement has received widespread attention for its potential to transform learning and engage diverse groups of students with technology and entrepreneurial practices. The White House sponsored its first Maker Faire in 2014 and hosted “a Week of Making” in June 2015.

At IU, other nodes of maker culture are developing in areas such as computing, fine arts and library sciences and furthered by IU Makes, a new organization that shares and highlights work made using innovative technologies. Peppler said she expects there will be a collection of maker spaces on campus that will share strategies and collaborate, each serving a distinct mission.

For more information about the Make Innovate Learn Lab, visit the MILL Facebook page or email millab@indiana.edu. To hear Kylie Peppler describe more about her work with students and “making”, watch this video.