Study of Professional Communities for Maker Educators | SRI International

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Study of Professional Communities for Maker Educators

New research examines communities for educators engaged in making to help better support and connect the growing maker movement in education.

New research examines communities for educators engaged in making to help better support and connect the growing maker movement in education.

In response to the need to connect maker educators with one another, the Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed) contracted SRI in early 2016 to conduct research on the existing communities that bring maker educators together as well as the interests and needs for shared resources and connections that bring maker educators to these communities. Study goals were to: (1) describe the current landscape of communities serving maker educators, (2) identify needs of maker educators in terms of access to resources and connections with peers, and (3) highlight common ways educators participate in these communities and their drivers for participation. Toward this end, this research incorporates findings from surveys and interviews with maker educators and community leaders.

The study found clear trends in how educators access resources, the kinds of resources they are interested in, and the ways they seek to connect with one another. Key findings have implications for the design and management of maker-centered communities for educators.

The data indicate that communities meet participant needs when they:

  • Attend to equity and trajectories of participation by designing with newcomers in mind and providing opportunities for growth;
  • Meet educators where they are, bringing shared resources to the online social networks educators participate in;
  • Include opportunities to connect educators with others who share similar roles and challenges.

Educators who participated in our study were often interested in:

  • Consolidated, user-friendly, easily searchable project plans and lessons;
  • Organized collections of research on the benefits and impacts of making and on approaches that show greatest promise;
  • Information about the broader policy and funding context;
  • Tailored resources that address the needs of school-base educators.

Overall, in spite of the diversity of interests and work settings reported, a consistent message emerged about educators’ needs, ways of communicating with peers and experts, and strong commitment to participating in communities with other maker educators. The full report is available here.