Part 8: Fall 2018 Labs

143 Makerspaces and Beyond – 11.16.2018

The UW Makerspace is an open shop and design space equipped by the College of Engineering and run largely by students. The makerspace cultivates a community of designers and builders with access to prototyping technology for hands-on learning and innovation. At the November 16, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants explored how instructors are using makerspaces. How might your course use them? Follow along with Makerspace Director Lennon Rodgers’ slides to see the history and impact of the Makerspace at UW thus far and how it might impact your own teaching.  


  • Draw upon makerspaces to create a welcoming, inviting space for interdisciplinary problem solving and hands-on work. Since completion of the UW-Makerspace, the number of females and minorities using the engineering shop facilities and participating in formal training has increased. Departmental diversity in users has grown, as well, and an average of 70% of workshop attendees report learning skills outside their major. 
  • Encourage higher-order critical thinking and student engagement with makerspaces. Makerspaces allow the development of real solutions to real problems in the real world, which can be motivating to students and help them synthesize and build upon their learning.
  • Promote multifaceted learning through makerspaces. Skillfulness in an area involves material, cognitive, and social literacies: material literacy for learning specific technical skills, cognitive literacy for knowing what to build and how it plays into the learning process, and social literacy for being able to communicate these ideas and connect to other people. Students need all three to learn and can build all three in a makerspace. 
  • Teach students how to use equipment once they have identified a need for it in their project. It can be tempting to teach the technology first and then try to find a way to use it within the scope of a project, but this strategy often results in a sense of artificiality. 
  • Promote on-campus resources to students in a centralized, accessible location. Many students don’t know where they can go to ask questions, learn new skills, and solve problems. The Libraries Equipment Checkout System and the Makerspace workshops calendar are good places to start.

For more information on makerspaces and UW-Madison resources in particular, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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