Safe and Healthy Environment (Makerspace and MasterClass)

What does the Makerspace have?

Agile Setting: One of the key components of a makerspace is the agile environment that provides options for students during collaboration. Some may prefer to stand while others may prefer to sit. Additionally, some may prefer to write with pen and paper, others may prefer to discuss, some may prefer to roughly prototype and experience, others may take advantage of large white board spaces. The point is that there is an abundance of options for students in these spaces. This is because, typically, standard classes do not take place in these rooms. Students are most likely in this room to create and problem solve among groups. There is always motion and very rarely silence as an instructor teaches. I believe that this allows students to feel comfortable in the room and feel as if they are more than just students.

Lab Manager: Makerspaces frequently have tools and equipment that students will learn to use by experience. However, if used improperly, people can hurt themselves, others, or present fire hazards. Similar to a science lab, there are strict rules that students must follow in order to remain safe while in the room. Basic classroom rules such as no food or drink are emphasized here especially when working with tools. While it is a “fun” space, it is not a playground and everyone in the room has to feel a purpose for their presence. In other words, the difference between a common space and a makerspace is that the makerspace has to be used by people who will remain engaged and focused on a task. This does not mean that it should be intimidating and not fun, but everyone has to follow the rules and be mindful of the others sharing the space. A lab manager must be in the space so that students can learn how to use equipment, seek help, and be protected from any misuse of equipment.

Separating Doors: The room consists of two main areas. The area closest to the hallway with all of the windows to show off the work is where the equipment performs and students work collaboratively. Rarely is this space used for traditional classroom teaching. The sliding doors within the room can be used to separate the other half of the space which looks more like a standard classroom with a ViewSonic board in front and low seating at tables for students with a white board in the back. Many lessons, particularly as it relates to safety instructions or project introductions, will be more suitable for this type of seating when students are expected to listen intently, take notes, and learn more traditionally. If another group of students are working collaboratively, they are able to do so in the collaboration space and shut the sliding doors so that no person/group experiences distraction or interference.

What does the Makerspace need?

Door Lock Adjustability/Window Blinds: A major concern that I have with this space is security. Currently, it is very easy for students or maintenance to stick a wedge in the door to keep it propped open. Often, I don’t see what is holding the door open so I will leave the room for the day leaving the room accessible. This is dangerous because it means that students could be in that room unsupervised. There are a number of hazards here for both the young (6th grade) and older students as machines can fail or they can experience burns or access sharp tools. On the other hand, certain students have been trained to properly use the space but they cannot access the room without me being there. However, I believe that more security is the safer option particularly as it relates with the current state of school security. This leads into my next concern which is the need for blinds and more efficient locking of doors during a lockdown. The room right now has large windows for everyone in the hallway to see and there are no blinds to block these windows. While there is the other room with sliding doors, I do not believe that lockdown drills could be easily performed. Students would have to go into the room with sliding doors (also has large windows to common grounds on the opposite side), and the door would have to be checked that it is completely locked. I would add a deadlock to the room in addition to a lock for the sliding doors and possibly even invest in curtains that can be dropped.

Equipment Security: As mentioned, student access to machines can present issues if this access is abused. The 3D printers can be accessed online but I am the only one that can access this portal. However, for students to have more autonomy, they also need access to the online portal but this would need to be regulated. A risk to giving full autonomy to students is that students can make potentially harmful devices such as weapons. Additionally, there are tools in the lab that are dangerous if used inappropriately such as box cutters, hammers, wood burning kits, etc… The space needs security in place but it exceeds the need for constant supervision.

First Aid Kit: Currently, the protocol for students who are injured in the lab is to send them to the nurse. I believe that there should be a first aid kit available for more immediate needs as a science lab would have an eye wash station. Since students are working with tools and equipment that can cause injury, it is important to have immediate access to first aid supplies.

What does MasterClass have?

Asynchronous Learning: The asynchronous component of online learning I think provides attention to access for all students. There is frequently a diverse student structure particularly for MasterClass so it is important that people can take the class at their own pace whenever they want. This avoids potential student frustration and allows for a comfortable learning environment. In addition, asynchronous learning is, typically, accompanied by more structure which is something that some students need in order to get the most out of the class.

Security: Students access the class through a secure login portal similar to other online services. The online system does not appear to have any security breach concerns considering it does not ask for much information other than general info and payment info. However, I am not entirely sure if this data is being shared with other companies.

“Office Hours”: The office hours component touches on access again and establishing a community when learning online. Many instructors hold office hours where students can leave video messages with questions and receive video responses from the teachers themselves. This is particularly exciting on MasterClass since the teachers are well known people in the field so it builds community with people that are usually deemed to be among the “elite”.

What does MasterClass need?

Accountability: The lack of accountability makes these courses potentially less effective. While safe regarding health, it is not so safe considering the financial investment that is frequently unused. The convoluted payment structure is questionable and could put people in awkward positions finding that they are making renewed payments and not even using the courses. While a good investment, the lack of accountability brings students into the “unsafe” category if they do not manage their finances and time properly. It would be nice if these programs came with an account manager or some sort of grading system to ensure that all students are fully engaged and aware of the services and finances involved.

Teacher oversight: I think it is misleading to assume that “the best in the business” or going to be the “best” teachers. Steph Curry, I am pretty sure, has never taught a class before this one. I would think that class structure needs some oversight from an experienced teacher to ensure that all students can be educated properly. One of the most important parts of being a teacher is figuring out how to modify lessons and delivery methods to meet the needs of a diverse student population. In addition, teachers must be empathetic and vulnerable regarding student situations. Online classes, in general, are difficult to establish this teacher-student understanding but having trained or experienced teacher involvement I think would support this shortcoming.

3 thoughts on “Safe and Healthy Environment (Makerspace and MasterClass)

  1. Kevin,
    I appreciate how your physical space provides lots of opportunities for students to have some power in their own learning. The ability to have students choose what they would like to do and how to learn the information is important as it ensures ownership of what the students produce at the end of their projects. What I do find interesting as there is no immediate treatment for the injured in the classroom but to send them to the nurse instead, I am curious as to why that currently is the case… financial purposes, perhaps?

    1. Honestly, I don’t have a good answer and I probably should have pushed for that more this year. I kind of just did as I was told… I think there should be more of an understanding that students need to learn safety before they can create “cool” stuff… I felt a bit rushed instead.

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