Next Practice Labs – taking makerspaces to the next level
This project will be undertaken by Associate Professor Kjetil Sandvik, University of Copenhagen, and Assistant Professor Klaus Thestrup, Aarhus University, along with a network of partners: DOKK1, a public library and open urban space in Aarhus, that is currently experimenting with different kinds of makerspaces, The LEGO-lab situated at Computer Science, Aarhus University, that over the years has developed a number of work space activities on children and technology, Katrinebjergskolen, a public school that is currently building a new multi-functional rooms, that among other things are meant for makerspaces and new combinations of media and materials. DOKK1 will join as a non-beneficiary partner. Furthermore, the project is part of a larger network in Denmark consisting of daycare institutions children age 1-6 years old and some of these institutions (in Aarhus and the neighboring city of Vejle) will participate in some of project’s activities. The institutions involved therefore cover children in different non-formal and formal educational settings from 1 to 15 years old. An advisory board will part of the Danish network.
As its core methods the project will build on action research and the concept of Next Practice Labs which is a combined pedagogical and research method to engage children, staff and researchers, where the focus is the joint development of the next practice based on mutual play and experiments. These labs can be in pre-defined spaces or erected momentarily according to needs but include in principle all media and all materials in combinations, where new uses of technology and narratives or new technologies and narratives can be invented. The laboratory itself is open to new combinations and open to the surrounding world through digital and global communication.
In these next practice labs the idea of the makerspace will be used and taken to the next level and include communication, play and experimenting to create a situation, where the participants in the makerspace can use any emerging technology and continuously unfold and develop digital literacy and creativity across different makerspaces. This will happen in a process, where DOKK1, Katrinebjergskolen and The LEGO-Lab each in the first phase will develop and run locally functioning Next Practice Labs, then in the second phase start exchanging and producing with each other and in the third and final phase communicate out towards other makerspaces and groups inside and outside the group of partners including other institutions in the network. The Next Practice Labs will therefore both take part in different institutions and across institutions. Robot technology, programming and other actual digital production and communication technologies will be part of the experiments.
The project has reflected on the specific characteristics of makerspaces and in particular how makerspaces may be conceived of as not just concrete spaces (a place to be makeative) but also a specific mindset (a state of makerspacesness). Reflections on the role and use of technologies have been conducted both as part of our secondment-visits and by engaging with secondment-visitors. Furthermore, we have been working on developing and refining our research methods in collaboration with partners both inside and outside of the project and by way of our specific ‘next-practice-lab’ method and open laboratories and experimenting communities as specific explorative research design.
We have conducted two concrete projects with children, teachers, pedagogues, librarians and visiting scholars and practitioners from the MakEY-project (see pictures):
June 2017: first laboratory at Boksen (Katrinebjergskolen, Aarhus: A space becomes a makerspace: Focus on negotiating exploring and experimenting with space, actions and narratives between children, teachers and researchers by building and rebuilding LEGO. A huge amount of LEGO bricks was poured out on the floor and the children told to a) find specific spots in the room to build in, b) to focus on the building-process and not the product, c) include others in the building-process or leave their constructions for others to rebuild. The project lasted two days (without any cleaning-up!).
September 2017: makerspace-experiments at Katrinebjergskolen and DOKK1, Aarhus: Children creating story worlds and storylines with Ozobotts and a manifold of physical materials and objects as creative storytelling devices. This project took place during several weeks in which the children (and teachers, librarians, researchers) worked on experimenting and improvising with the robots (and pimping them in various ways) and creating worlds (planets) for the robots to live and their actions to take place.??
Furthermore, we have conducted on survey on uses and reflections on makerspaces among practitioners in libraries, schools, museums, and daycare institutions i Denmark.