karenthepasolibrarian

Small town public library life and library school topics of interest

LIBR 204: Week 13 Emerging Technology

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The aspect of emerging technology as presented in the Horizon Report that I found most compelling is the trend for students to become creators. This has become a popular mindset in the public library world as well. More and more libraries are circulating unusual collections such as seeds, tools, and even science equipment in an effort to provide patrons with the information they need to create (Toppo, 2013). Even more important, libraries are providing patrons with a place in which to create, often featuring arts and technology tools which allow them to design works that they can then build and make real. This learning-by-doing method is not new; colleges such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have operated this way for years. Leroy Anderson, Cal Poly’s first Director, back in 1903, supported a curriculum in which “learning by doing and earning while learning” was the main mode of operation (Cal Poly, n.d.).

The current form this style of pedagogy is seeing in academia as well as in the public library and business arenas is the Maker Space movement. According to Audrey Watters (2013), the campus makerspace involves discussion and collaboration between students and instructors. It is project-based, using the scientific method of experimentation to achieve goals and thereby learn. While there is a great deal of hoopla surrounding the use of 3D printers in makerspaces, makerspaces do not have to include this technology. The ultimate goal of the maker movement is a new renaissance of manufacturing and creativity. Because this creativity can take many forms, Watters sees it as being democratic; while it is essentially STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) based, there is room for the humanities and the arts as well. The goal of the movement is to make creation across-the-curriculum in the way that “writing across the curriculum” was the popular buzz phrase several years ago. (Watters, 2013)

Brit Morin (2013) takes this concept even further, giving examples of how the DIY culture can lead students to career opportunities. She cites the success of maker events which are increasing in attendance as an example of how “making” has infiltrated the lives of many different interest groups. Websites such as Etsy promote selling what one creates, and other sites such as Kickstarter allow entrepreneurs access to resources they need in order to realize their creative visions. Morin particularly focuses on why millennials (the majority of the current crop of college students) are drawn to the maker culture, stating that the current busy family dynamic combined with a lack of funding and interest in home economics and shop classes in schools leave millennials thirsting for the type of activity provided by the makerspace.

The maker culture goes hand in hand with the current library trend of communities desiring gathering places where they can express their ideas. What better way to express an idea one has than to actually create the object one is thinking about and then show it to others? Because creating crosses many areas of study, libraries are the perfect venue for makerspaces.

Cal Poly (n.d.). Admissions: The history [Data File]. Retrieved from http://admissions.calpoly.edu/prospective/aboutcalpoly.html

Morin, B. (2013). What is the maker movement and why should you care? [Data File]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brit-morin/what-is-the-maker-movemen_b_3201977.html (Links to an external site.)

Toppo, G. (2013). Libraries offer weird things to draw new borrowers. USA Today, March 6, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/06/public-libraries-loaning/1962011/

Watters, A. (2013). The case for a campus makerspace [Data File]. Retrieved from http://hackeducation.com/2013/02/06/the-case-for-a-campus-makerspace/

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