Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Communication

First Advisor

Carolyn Marvin

Abstract

Rising in popularity in last decade, the “Maker Movement” is a technologically enhanced extension of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement, which focuses on the use of novel technologies such as 3-D printers and microcontrollers for the creation of personalized projects. In addition to commercial growth within this area, educational practitioners and researchers have also embraced making, often heralding as the best new way of revitalizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in the United States. With the explosion of maker-based programs for youth ranging from university classes to after-school programs, most research on educational making focuses on the question of learning and pedagogy. This dissertation, however, takes a broader look at these processes by attempting to understand the institutional and sociological contexts in which this educational trend is implemented. Through a 16-month ethnography of two educational maker programs within a suburban and urban library, I examine how the structures and concepts behind Maker Movement are actively and continually translated into on-the-ground practice. As I detail, this involves both the initial negotiation of particular human and non-human actors, as well as an active maintenance of these programs through practices that I describe as ‘hustling’ for support, and producing ‘spin’ for outside audiences. While these acts are often veiled from the popular view of educational making, I argue that these ‘behind the scenes’ activities are foundational to practice of making. Not only do these help shape what (and how) maker activity means to participants and facilitators, but also actively shifts the nature of these libraries as institutions of public education and service. Only by understanding and acknowledging these processes, I argue, can we come to realize the potential of educational making as a productive force in the world.

Share

COinS