Bonine, Kevin; Jill Castek, Gloria Jacobs, Jennifer Nichols, Blaine E. Smith, Leslie Sult, and Wen Wen (University of Arizona)

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In today’s educational climate, organizations are creating learning spaces for hands-on activities, often called makerspaces, co-working spaces, innovation labs, or fablabs. These spaces have evolved to be interdisciplinary centers that personalize learning for individual, diverse learners in collaborative settings. When designed well, these physical spaces create communities that contextualize learning around participants’ goals.

Despite their potential, makerspaces still struggle to create a sense of inclusivity for women (Hynes, 2017) and other diverse language and cultural groups. Sustainable programs for diversifying access to physical learning spaces, require researchers to identify and address existing barriers to participation. The Invention Studio (Noel, Murphy, Jariwala, 2016) observed four main barriers: anxiety due to lack of experience, a lack of information regarding equipment and usage, a fear of alienation, and a pre-existing notion that makerspaces are only for engineering.

Bridging from an NSF funded initiative, this presentation aims to bring together a community of collaborators from multiple stakeholder groups including academia, public libraries, museums, community based organizations, non-profits, media makers and educators within and beyond K-12 schools. The presenters aim to identify issues, discuss possible solutions, and facilitate discussions about technology-focused learning that invite experimentation with distributed learning technologies among organizations, researchers, and practitioners who serve diverse learners. Five focus areas include:

inclusivity of learning spaces that invite multiple perspectives and full participation
documenting learning in ways that are linked to outcomes and impacts for all learners
implementing the use of new technologies in diverse settings, such as the workforce
interpersonal interactions and peer-to-peer learning
methods for collecting and analyzing data at intersection of people, the learning environment, and new technologies.

This session will examine a synthesis of design principles, assessment approaches, and tools that can be used widely by those in the field. During this discussion, the researchers aim to: (1) exchange innovative ideas, (2) share challenges and opportunities, (3) connect practical and research-based expertise and (4) form cross-institutional and cross-community partnerships that envision, propose, and implement opportunities that support our collective understanding. Outcomes will address equity and inclusion of all learners across digitally distributed learning environments.


Hynes, M. & Hynes, W. (2017). If you build it, will they come? Student preferences for Makerspace environments in higher education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education. 1-17. 10.1007/s10798-017-9412-5.

Noel, A. Murphy, L., Jariwala, A. (2016). Sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture in a student run makerspace. Proceedings of the ISAM conference. Retrieved from