Presentation Title

Conceptualizing Digital and Technological Literacies in Makerspaces

Biographical Sketch

Christine Olson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on social practices surrounding new media technologies, social inequality, and digital media literacies. In addition to her work at the university, Christine has facilitated media literacy programs for elementary and middle school students and is currently a coordinator of Makers at Amherst Media (M@AM), a local makerspace where she directs programming on creative configurations of technology, art, and digital media.

Type of Presentation

Individual presentation

Brief Description of Presentation

This presentation will explore how digital and technological literacies are fostered in different makerspace initiatives. The presentation will begin with a review of the various rationales supporting the development of makerspaces and will conclude with analysis of how digital and technological literacies are understood and supported in these spaces. The presentation will include data from on-going ethnographic fieldwork and feedback will be solicited from the audience regarding the project’s emergent conceptualizations of digital and technological literacies.

Abstract of Proposal

Makerspaces are communal workspaces offering access to various technologies and materials to encourage participation in (re)design. Though they differ in their aims and emphases, makerspaces have been created in various institutions such as public libraries, museums, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities to promote collaborative learning. The growing body of literature on makerspaces has shown that makerspace development is primarily validated by one or more of the following rationales: (1) Makerspaces improve the economy through accelerating innovation, (2) Makerspaces encouraging activism and/or civic engagement through critical DIY projects, (3) Makerspaces can improve access to STEM education and careers by broadening participation, and/or (4) Makerspaces promote cultural development through community building. These varied aims influence not only who participates in these initiatives but also the kinds of outcomes (e.g. social, civic, economic, etc.) participants associate with the digital and technological literacies practiced in these spaces. By comparing the institutional motivations for the development of these makerspace initiatives with the perspectives and practices of actual participants, this presentation will offer insights into who benefits from varying conceptualizations of digital and technological literacies. More specifically, this presentation draws upon on-going ethnographic fieldwork in four makerspaces associated with different institutions to explore how they conceptualize and foster digital and technological literacies. Interrogating how different institutions conceptualize digital and technological literacies will advance our understandings of the possibilities and limits of makerspaces for promoting critical media literacies.

Start Date

2-24-2018 9:50 AM

End Date

2-24-2018 11:20 AM

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Feb 24th, 9:50 AM Feb 24th, 11:20 AM

Conceptualizing Digital and Technological Literacies in Makerspaces

Makerspaces are communal workspaces offering access to various technologies and materials to encourage participation in (re)design. Though they differ in their aims and emphases, makerspaces have been created in various institutions such as public libraries, museums, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities to promote collaborative learning. The growing body of literature on makerspaces has shown that makerspace development is primarily validated by one or more of the following rationales: (1) Makerspaces improve the economy through accelerating innovation, (2) Makerspaces encouraging activism and/or civic engagement through critical DIY projects, (3) Makerspaces can improve access to STEM education and careers by broadening participation, and/or (4) Makerspaces promote cultural development through community building. These varied aims influence not only who participates in these initiatives but also the kinds of outcomes (e.g. social, civic, economic, etc.) participants associate with the digital and technological literacies practiced in these spaces. By comparing the institutional motivations for the development of these makerspace initiatives with the perspectives and practices of actual participants, this presentation will offer insights into who benefits from varying conceptualizations of digital and technological literacies. More specifically, this presentation draws upon on-going ethnographic fieldwork in four makerspaces associated with different institutions to explore how they conceptualize and foster digital and technological literacies. Interrogating how different institutions conceptualize digital and technological literacies will advance our understandings of the possibilities and limits of makerspaces for promoting critical media literacies.