Creating a Maker Space With Heart

summer funI’ve been part of an online MOOC – Making Learning Connected on google plus (#clmooc on Twitter) this summer.  OK maybe participating is a bit overboard as I haven’t been able to do many of the activities. Summer schedule of in-and-out travel has curtailed access; however I’ve loved poking in at every chance. I’ve gained access to a growing bank of tools (some I’ve used, others brand new) and how people are using them to create. I also get a chance to view peoples thinking process as comments are open and honest – yes I’m more interested in the “fails” than the polished product.

The idea of “Maker Movement” has taken on with lightening speed. While no stranger to new things I’m blown away by how many content areas can relate with the overall process (literacy, arts, science, music, social studies). It certainly allows all the kinesthetic crafty people an opportunity to play. And maybe that is what I find appealing – the opportunity to play and explore without the stress of having to be perfect. (My primary teachers would say “play  is the work”.) Or maybe it’s the sense of community I find here – everyone is incredibly supportive and generous in both ideas and suggestions. The leaders have made life super easy to connect whether on G+, Twitter, on blogs… in whatever spaces you inhabit.

Having been a part of other MOOCs (all well designed), there is something quite different about this one that makes me wanting to return. It is the mix of discovery and community that bring learners together. There’s a lesson here for our classrooms.  I doubt that the sense of community happened without a lot of thought and planning ( shoutout to those brilliant facilitators). Creating an environment that is inclusive of every skill level and all risk levels is extremely challenging – any teacher can atest. So many people talk about the importance of community, yet don’t discuss the hows or whys. What’s unique here is that this community invites you to experience the community of learners as equal participants. Though there are goals, the flow nature drives the journey making one feel almost anything is possible. They model connectedness (reminds me of the work of my friend Bev Ogilvie at ConnectZone.org where creating relationships are foundational) by doing it transparently. You can live it through their live Hangouts – they question themselves, they share experiences from perspectives, they honour each other in their comments. The same is reflected in the G.Plus community. Comments are enticing, challenging, yet extremely supportive. Learning and “can do” success happens in these safe environments.

The challenge will be to actively and purposefully create these environments in our workplaces where discovery and community go hand-in-hand. Interested in thoughts you have around this or for other examples you’ve encountered or even for questions you have?

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