Having the opportunity to read ‘Take Making into the Classroom’ was synonymous for me to opening a present that I have always wanted and never received. I have been waiting to learn how to create in class interactive learning that provides the participant the opportunity to create their own learning at their own speed and within their own needs and desires. Over the years, I have incorporated all different types of interactive activities into my programs. They have been good but I cannot suggest they were great. Not only did the concept of ‘making’ open the floodgates of ideas for me, but also the term ‘making’ references part of our (the City’s) strategic plan for the next four years. We have promoted the idea that we need employees to share their ideas, visions and thoughts and this sharing is going to ‘Make it Better’. (Make it Better is defined as the services we offer to our residents.)
Consider this scenario. Currently, every Friday, our Roads employees receive a Health and Safety Talk from their Manager. The Manager reads a document to the employees and the group spend five to ten minutes talking about the impact of the Health and Safety Talk in their work environment. The topics range from WHMIS to how to plow safely in the snow. Currently, the Health and Safety Talk is a transfer of information from one person to another. Employees are not involved in the learning.
Using the Maker Movement, specifically the “Maker Configurations”, I have the opportunity to modify how the Health and Safety Talks are delivered to employees. I now see the potential for them to be student centered, interactive and based on constructivist learning theory. In essence I could build a design challenge for each health and safety talk. Let’s start small – through a design challenge, in a maker configuration, employees could create twelve health and safety talks using the tools in their depots. These designs (Health and Safety Talks) would be personal to the group of individuals creating it driven by their curiosity and challenges; it would build their skills development and they would become the subject matter experts; technology could be incorporated perhaps the use of an iPhone to video the Health and Safety Talk (Crichton & Carter, 2017). Employees would automatically incorporate empathetic design, as they know their environment and their peers. This process would be the first step in building an innovative culture of sharing as well as building self confident technology savvy employees.
As postulated by Crichton & Carter (2017), “Design involves the ability to combine an empathetic understanding of the context of the problems, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions and critical thinking to analyze and fit solutions to the context” (p. 56). Our employees know their challenges in the workplace. They have the insight to ‘Make it Better’ and because they are creating their own learning, they know the solutions to the context. I think we are making a new world for ourselves through maker solutions in maker configurations.
Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2017). Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit. Open School/ITA.