ArtCenter College of Design Publishes Report on How to Build Next-Level Maker Spaces

New research highlights importance of digital making to achieve ideal learning and propel innovation

Published : Monday, June 27, 2016 | 5:08 PM

© ArtCenter College of Design

© ArtCenter College of Design

Making, and more recently digital making, has become a critical link to teaching and learning in schools and communities worldwide. ArtCenter College of Design has published a report outlining how to integrate digital making with traditional maker spaces to support designers as they invent the future. Spearheaded by the College’s Media Design Practices (MDP) graduate department, the Creating Maker Spaces in Schools of Art and Design report surveys maker spaces in and outside of education and aims to guide educational leaders wrestling with issues of efficiency and agility in today’s robust creative economy. On Tuesday, June 21, ArtCenter’s Casey Anderson presented the report during the Higher Ed Maker Symposium organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as part of National Week of Making, June 17 through 23, 2016.

Making is at the core of most art and design schools where creative practitioners build prototypes, models and simulations to invent new products, services and experiences. Bold experimentation is deeply woven into the fabric of these institutions.

“Today’s challenge is how to seamlessly integrate new forms of digital making with diverse curricula, complement existing facilities and be self-sustaining financially,” said Elise Co, MDP and Interaction Design faculty and co-author of the study with Ian Besler, MDP adjunct faculty and alumnus.

“We’re intimately aware of the need to balance resource allocation with access to cutting-edge technology while providing the best education possible,” said Anne Burdick, chair of the MDP Department. “We feel strongly that our discoveries will be useful as schools explore how digital making relates to specific emerging areas of art and design.

“Our goal was to create a practical guide for our peers in art and design higher education to capitalize on evolving technology and make the most effective decisions when planning improvements to campus facilities,” said Burdick.

“To create ‘next-level’ making—which means to envision innovative maker spaces and systems beyond what is currently in play, we found that studio courses dedicated to the design of maker spaces, as well as open calls for proposals and institutional research initiatives are the best way to leverage the collective brain of this native community of makers,” said Co.

With the knowledge shared in the report, schools will be prepared to develop maker spaces scaled to their community’s specific needs, from a single cart to an institution-wide network of specialized making “hubs.”

Key findings:

· Maker spaces allow technology to be accessible to non-experts, not just physically, but functionally. Training and peer-to-peer learning are key to how these spaces function even outside an academic setting. They’re designed for a range of users from novice to expert.

· Technology plays different roles in different types of making—production, prototyping, experimentation—and in communicating working knowledge to collaborators.

· Maker spaces are ecosystems that depend as much on community, staffing and programming as technology and equipment.

· Maker spaces are best developed iteratively and grown organically to allow them to evolve based on real patterns of usage and visioning grounded in experience.

· Beyond the “starter” maker space that is fast becoming a basic requirement, there are real design challenges and opportunities to define next-level Maker Spaces such as systems and networks of multiple venues and labs for highly specialized making.

Report Credits:

· Executive producer: Anne Burdick, chair, Media Design Practices Department

· Project lead and co-author: Elise Co, faculty member, Media Design Practices Department

· Researcher and co-author: Ian Besler, faculty member, Media Design Practices Department

· Researcher and production assistant: Renée Reizman, coordinator, Media Design Practices Department

· Graphic designer: Jessica Lee

About Media Design Practices:

Media Design Practices at ArtCenter College of Design offers an interdisciplinary design MFAgrounded in media and technology through a curriculum that features two intentionally divergenttracks. Each track—Lab and Field—prepares students to work in emerging roles and contexts fordesign. Lab students explore the cultural impact and possible futures of new ideas fromtechnology, science and culture. Field students mix ethnography, design and technology toaddress social issues in a developing world context. More at mediadesignpractices.net.

About ArtCenter:

Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

 

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