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Getting Your First Educational Makerspace Started

I often get asked: What are some resources where I can learn about makerspaces in higher education, in my K-12 institution, or just in general? So! Here’s a short toolkit for educational makerspace leaders that includes list of things I’ve collected, written about, and read over the years that I’ve found particularly influential:

  • How Tinkering and “Problem Making” Are Shaking Up Higher Education – I wrote this article for Make a few years back, but think it still holds up as a good reference for the educational/curricular side of making in higher ed.
  • A while back I sourced an extensive list of tools and other equipment that one might need when developing a makerspace. Thus, makerspace budgeting worksheet came to be.
  • Four problems with an out-of-the-box makerspace solution. This is something to bring to your administrators if they’re looking to put together a cookie-cutter solution.
  • My wife, Sarah Margalus (an instructional coach) and I put together this blog post on the Four Considerations for an Educational Makerspace.
  • Here is a podcast series that I put together with local makerspace leaders on educational makerspaces for This Should Work*.
  • Chicago Makers – I originally built this resource solely to give people in Chicago a stronger idea of how to get involved in making in our fair city, but it has since also grown into a compendium of books and resources that I find useful in the maker community. Of particular note, and influence for me, is Tim Ingold’s Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture.
  • Stanford’s d.school put out a book called Make Space, which is a really good crash course/index on different things you can build to facilitate creative collaboration in spaces like makerspaces.
  • I went to the very first International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces a few years back, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on the whitepapers that come out of the conference, and have collected them all into Google Drive. You can find them here.
  • MakerEd put out a “how to build a makerspace” playbook several years ago that’s still a pretty good reference. The only caveat I would put in there is that every makerspace is different, and you should primarily listen to your community when it comes to what kind of things you should buy to support them.
  • I cannot stress enough how influential Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism has been on my philosophy about making. Particularly, the ideas around objects, their qualities, perception, and the nature of things (including people). Some good literature in that regard: Graham Harman’s Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism, Ian Bogost’s Play Anything and Alien Phenomenology, Ingold’s Making (referenced earlier), Ian Hodder’s Entangled, and the (surprisingly good) fictional book Ventus.

You can also, of course, always reach out to me for a quick chat or to come speak about these things. To do that, contact me here. And if you’d like to hire my company to consult on your space’s development, make sure to mention that in your note (we are a CPS vendor).


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

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