- Case Western University will soon open the think(box), which will act as a venue for students to engage in innovation and tinker with fresh ideas, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.
- The university is encouraging students and others to utilize the new makerspace for construction and experimentation, with one floor housing woodworking tools and 3-D printers, as well as a paint shop and welding station.
- The notion of makerspaces first flourished at engineering schools, but now colleges are all kinds are approaching the spaces through a multidisciplinary lens, encouraging engineers to meet students on other tracks in the hopes of spurring all students involved to new creative heights.
The rise of makerspaces like the one at Case Western Reserve University is indicative of a growing trend in education. According to Dartmouth College research, there are nearly 1,500 makerspaces worldwide, including K-12, where the concept first took root. The challenges of incorporating them into common university practice were detailed in a report by KQED News, which found that buy-in from educators wary of incorporating new technology into their curricula can be a difficult hurdle for makerspace proponents to overcome.
Another struggle cited is how best to measure the efficacy of students’ work in a makerspace; how will the work there be viewed in context as a part of a student’s educational achievement? Professors are able to note increased interdisciplinary dialogue and an affinity for new tools and software, but evidence that points towards makerspaces having a tangible impact on student performance is still anecdotal. Not only that, it may be difficult to convince colleges to continue to invest in makerspaces without knowing how the money will result in academic progress for students.