We know that some of the best research around teaching and learning is rooted in practice, and vice versa. To that end, Maker Ed’s research-related efforts — in close collaboration with partner institutions across the United States — endeavor to develop strong understandings, a basis of evidence, insights into some of the big questions that our field is tackling, and ultimately, key practices to integrate into learning environments.
Our projects often bring together a diverse set of stakeholders and partners for collaboration, and we consistently integrate learnings and tools from our research projects into Maker Ed’s other offerings, whether professional development workshops, national programs, or events. Some of our work is also focused on the research and evaluation of internal efforts.
Learning in the Making (2020-2021)
Learning in the Making was an online video series designed to support educators and families with accessible hands-on learning experiences. There are 32 episodes covering topics like cooking, coding, design, music, puppets, poetry, pop-ups, and storytelling. Each episode was co-hosted and invited guest hosts were invited to write a blog post about themselves. We invited BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) educators, creators, and makers to co-host, telling their stories and showcasing their work.
Maker Kits (2020)
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we partnered with after school programs in Oakland to distribute 1250+ maker kits to families that included accessible materials for at home activities and bilingual project guides. We partnered with a local Oakland educator to collect a series of stories centering educator and youth voices.
Cyber Arcade (2020)
Cyber Arcade: Programming and Making with micro:bit is a fun and creative introduction to computer science and hands-on making for makers in elementary (ages 9–12) and middle (ages 12–14) grade levels with little to no experience in programming and 3D design. This curriculum was developed in collaboration with Oakland Unified School District and implemented in several afterschool programs in Oakland.
Maker Promise (2017-2020)
Run in partnership with Digital Promise, Maker Promise was a campaign to equip more schools with the resources and support they need to provide quality maker learning experiences for their students. In 2018 we co-hosted 14 Maker Educator Meetups, 3 Edcamp “un-conferences,” and published resources for the 2,500 Maker Promise signees.
Beyond Rubrics: Moving Towards Embedded Assessment in Maker Education. (three year research project from 2017-2019)
The Beyond Rubrics project, in partnership with MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab and supported by the National Science Foundation, kicked off in late 2017. The overall goal of the effort was to develop a set of embedded assessment tools and practices for maker education, specifically integrated into middle school classrooms.
Maker Education Micro-Credentials (2016-2020)
In 2016 we launched 6 micro-credentials for maker education in collaboration with Digital Promise. Over 200 microcredentials given by 2020.
Ask a Maker Educator Video Series (2016-2018)
Ask a Maker Educator was an informal 30-minute online gathering that paired up a Maker Ed staff member with an experienced maker educator(s) to chat and answer questions from the community. This series included 26 episodes that can be found on this Ask A Maker Educator YouTube playlist.
Maker Ed’s Open Portfolio Project (five year research project from 2013 – 2018)
The Open Portfolio Project aims to develop a common set of practices for portfolio creation, reflection, and sharing to create an open, decentralized, and distributed lifetime portfolio system for makers. In collaboration with Indiana University’s Creativity Labs, the Project includes three phases of work: a literature review, visits to field sites with iterative design experiments, and a written set of research briefs. The Project began in October 2013 with visits to 10 youth maker program field sites in 2014, narrowed down to 5 field sites in 2015. In 2016 we ran two workshops for around 60 educators for two days to explore portfolio platforms, principles, and examples, and develop practices of their own. Throughout we wrote research briefs: Phase 1 Research Brief Compilation (9 total), Practical Guide, Phase 2 Research Brief Compilation (11 total), and summarized the project here.