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Maker culture transforming learning experiences

Finns are collaborating to create the education of the future, writes Lilli Mäkelä.

A new curriculum came into effect in the Finnish school system in 2016, and it aims to lower the barriers between school subjects by promoting research and phenomenon-based learning through multidisciplinary projects. The idea is that education should produce broad learning outcomes and help children to build their own understanding of the world together with others by experimenting and asking questions.

A makerspace can be defined as a collaborative work space that combines traditional crafts with modern engineering skills such as electronics, robotics, and 3D modelling and printing. Makerspaces have a low threshold for participation and a culture of sharing knowledge. The popularity of makerspaces has spread to all areas of the Finnish society, and open workshops can nowadays be found in libraries, learning institutions and neighbourhood centres.

Collaborative work spaces at school can help to create unique learning experiences as the pupils have a more active role in their own learning process and can learn from their peers in a different environment than the traditional classroom. As the pupils manage their own project, they can choose to focus on a topic that relates to their own interests, making the learning process personally relatable and memorable. This can help to bring school subjects together in a meaningful way.

“Technology develops rapidly, and this changes the role of teachers.”

Technology develops rapidly, and this changes the role of teachers: they will have to familiarise themselves with new machines and software together with the pupils, and in this process the best results can be achieved by sharing knowledge and bringing people’s different interests and strengths into use.

Learning digital fabrication methods, for example, opens up the process of manufacturing everyday objects and changes the learner’s role from a passive consumer to an active maker – a person who has the skills to affect one’s own environment.

As the educators of today can only try to predict the challenges their pupils will face in their future studies and workplaces, teaching children and young people to collaborate with others, understand how the creative process from idea to product works and have an open mind when learning new things will equip them with life skills for their pursuit of a meaningful vocation.

As the pupils may not know what they will be doing in the future, they can benefit a great deal from learning how to collaborate and readjust their knowhow in changing situations.

Lilli Mäkelä
Industrial designer