Make-to-Learn: Bringing together DIY practice
and educational research

The Maker movement and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture celebrates innovation, creativity, and community engagement centered on hands-on creation. Parents, teachers, and Makers from diverse walks of life embrace hands-on learning and creativity, but well-grounded and shared understanding of its educational value is still lacking. In order for DIY and Maker culture to make a real difference for education, we need well-formulated research which speaks directly to educational policy and practice.

Make-to-Learn is an effort that leverages DIY culture, digital practices, and educational research to advocate for placing making, creating, and designing at the core of educational practice. Recognizing and articulating the powerful learning potential of making and DIY culture is critical in broadening the reach of the Maker movement and in making programs centered on innovation, creativity, and inquiry more accessible and appealing to educators and youth in under-resourced settings. The broader vision of Make-to-Learn is an educational ecosystem that incorporates these practices as a means to engage and inspire all young people towards lifelong collaborative learning, experimentation, and invention.

Make-to-Learn approaches this vision by bringing together Makers, educators, and researchers around the following questions:

  • What are key learning outcomes of making and engagement in DIY culture?
  • What specific activities, tools, and environments help realize and enhance the learning potential of making?
  • How can we create DIY activities that appeal to a broad diversity of people, from many different backgrounds, and many different learning styles?
  • How has making and DIY culture been effectively integrated into educational institutions and practice?
  • What further research is needed to effectively advocate for the educational value of making?

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Make-to-Learn will begin to investigate these questions through the following activities:

  • Surfacing and empowering a community of young Maker-learners (and their parents and mentors) and connecting them with educator and educational research communities. This will include a challenge hosted on Instructables.com, inviting submissions that speak to the relation between making and learning.
  • Organizing events and public outreach aimed at enlisting support and raising awareness about the educational value of making. This will include a symposium on March 13, 2013, the day before the Digital Media and Learning Conference in Chicago.
  • Facilitating collaboration between the Maker community, educators, and educational researchers in order to develop a research agenda centered on the educational value of making.

Through these activities, Make-to-Learn hopes to catalyze an ongoing conversation at the intersection of educational research and DIY culture and support a sustained research agenda to help advocate for improved educational outcomes for all through making.

Make-to-Learn is a thematic initiative of the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California, Irvine and is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Kylie Peppler and the Creativity Labs at Indiana University, Bloomington are leading this effort.