Maker Ed To Expand its Work on Building Maker Educator Community
Maker Ed Receives Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Strengthen Connections Between Maker Educators
Oakland, Calif., January 2016:
Responding to an ever-present need among maker educators to connect and learn from one another, Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed), with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is expanding its community building efforts.
In conversations with its wide-ranging partners and affiliates working to bring more making opportunities to youth, Maker Ed consistently hears from educators that they struggle to find information, collaborators, resources and the support they need to spark, strengthen, and sustain their maker-centered learning efforts.
To help meet that demand and foster connections, and with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Maker Ed will create a combination of online and in-person offerings –– including national and regional convenings, a robust and interconnected suite of online community offerings, and a host of additional resources to help build and strengthen the current network of maker educators. The organization will be hiring two new staff members to lead these efforts: a community manager and a community coordinator.
Maker Ed also understands from its deep involvement with the educator community that it would not be sufficient to develop these offerings without the considerable input of educators; Maker Ed believes that educators’ needs, perspectives, and insights are crucial to ensuring the successful creation of valued, relevant, and useful resources to build community. Therefore, before diving into this project, Maker Ed will conduct a thorough survey of the existing landscape of maker educator communities to better understand what is working and what is missing. Those interested in keeping up to date on the project are invited to join Maker Ed’s mailing list (and indicate their interest in community) to receive notifications on how to get involved.
As Maker Ed works towards these goals, the organization will also be incorporating lessons learned from its past community building efforts –– from hosting a Maker Educator Convening in May 2015 to launching an online directory of maker programs in the fall of 2015 to managing specialized online communities for its Maker Corps and Maker VISTA programs each year.
Of these planned efforts, Maker Ed’s Executive Director, Warren (Trey) Lathe said, “We have heard from so many maker educators that it is extremely valuable to have the opportunity to make connections and to have access to new ideas, energy, and information through communities. We are thrilled that the Gates Foundation recognizes the value of this work and grateful that they are supporting our efforts to create a community that is useful and accessible to this audience.”
Lathe added that these efforts would strengthen Maker Ed’s ability to bolster the work and energies of maker educators, in turn improving their ability to provide meaningful, accessible, and relevant learning experiences for young people everywhere –– Maker Ed’s ultimate goal.
Maker Ed is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making. Through its support of educators and communities, Maker Ed plays a national leadership role in both broadening access to and deepening the impact of meaningful making and learning experiences for youth. Maker Ed is a project of the Tides Center, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit public charity.