Participatory Learning in a Library Program

If participatory learning is manifested most profoundly in the maker movement, then school libraries are in the box seat. Teacher-librarians can “hack the curriculum” and provide varied opportunities for school community to design, create and share in the Library spaces and the rest of the school.

Opportunities to engage in the design thinking process, including trialling, prototyping and failing are still far and few between in schools. A makerspace can provide a safe place for self directed designing, creating and learning.

I am about to begin this journey of starting a makerspace movement in the school where I work in the role of the teacher-librarian and a thought leader. It’s time to become a “maker-teacher”: I don’t know how to code, program or make electrical circuits, but I do know who to ask to work with me, how to facilitate students to work together and how to connect with others and find out what to do. I am crafty, but need to practice making more technical creations.

The next step on with a school makerspace will be to show students how to share and make their creations public. To develop the students into true contributing digital citizens the teaching community may need to redefine our approach to digital literacy. A lot more conversations need to be had about how to change the environment on the web responsively and creatively. Blogs, wikis and other web 2.0 tools need to be named participatory media not ‘new media’ (they have been around for years now). Proven successes like to YOUmedia and Dream Yard projects look very exciting: they provide great opportunities for student-centred learning.

Digital badges are an interesting concept and remind me a bit of the MOOC concept where it can be open to everyone to engage, learn and succeed. It could be a great way of connecting people to expertise. I think it will take a while to shift attitudes to the type of assessments we provide.


One thought on “Participatory Learning in a Library Program

  1. Hi Monique,
    I think the library as maker space has to arise organically as a concept if there is a need in a school.
    I wonder if the movement began in the U.S. because things were becoming chronically bad and some libraries were sitting there as wasted spaces, not being used at all, and rather than fail, re-defining and re-purposing the space seemed logical. I think a good thing about the maker space concept is as a ‘kick-starter’ to get people to re-engage with community and participatory activities and not being aware that they are learning while they do so. Imaginatively using resources available in a library – libraries have always been into resourcing, it’s just that with maker-spaces they bring in different ones to engage, interest and satisfy the needs of their particular clients. But I think it must grow authentically and organically, out of a pedagogically identified need at the school.

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