Be sure to join us at #IWCA15 on Saturday, October 10 at 6:30pm for this featured talk, “We’re Making It!: What Can Writing Centers Learn from Makerspaces?” given by Dr. David Sheridan of Michigan State University.
Recent years have seen the emergence of makerspaces: community gathering spaces where people can access old and new tools for making things. At makerspaces, one often encounters the latest digital fabrication technologies, like laser cutters and 3D printers. But one also finds more traditional making tools as well, including kilns, looms, and sewing machines. It’s not uncommon to encounter traditional writing technologies, like movable type and letterpresses. Even more important than these technologies, however, is the fact that makerspaces are populated with people devoted to helping each other put these old and new tools to creative use. What can writing centers learn from these spaces? This presentation builds on some striking commonalities that writing centers and makerspaces share: a commitment to peer-based learning and collaboration; a desire to create a safe space for risk-taking and experimentation; a healthy disregard for more formal educational structures; and, of course, the goal of nurturing processes of making themselves (variously referred to as “composing,” “designing,” “creating,” and “inventing”). Indeed, writing centers have always been a kind of makerspace. At the same time, I argue that these new spaces can teach us something. I examine practices of play, spontaneity, and technology-use found in makerspaces in order to suggest some lenses for refreshing our vision of writing center work.