The Picture!

There is power in participation, co-creation and openness. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. Design is of the people, by the people and for the people.

Since the beginning of my academic time I always felt there was something missing, and that for some odd reason I was being conditioned to live a prisoned life, in an ideological and psychological prison. The way the entire education and socio economic system was built, it made people believe that our lives are about achieving certain goals, one needs to have a job, a car, a house and so on. ekprayog was a way to move out of all this.

We have seen what industrial revolution has done. We have seen what consumerism has done to this planet as well. Looking at the current advancement in science and technology we don’t seem to be leaving our planets for some other system in the distant future. So, we’ll have to design our products, process, systems and lives in such a way that there is place for every living being to thrive and be happy.

Design is not personal effects of a designer. Design is a way of life, every single person who’s trying to solve a problem or creating creative solutions is a designer. Design cannot be done in isolation; it has to be done keeping people in mind, combining form, function and meaning with a focus on user centeredness. People need to be involved in the entire process of designing otherwise it takes the very humaneness from the entire system.

When people come together to look at the problem as a collective and listen to the issues and concerns of each member, they end up forming a very holistic perspective of the problem at hand. And when the solutions are built with the participation of everyone and by building on the ideas of others the system thus formed is an open and a democratically designed one. It’s a transparent system with every single entity visible to each member.

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What the Education Systems can take from the Maker Movement

Whether you are getting started in your classroom or building a Makerspace, the most important thing to remember is that making is about making sense of the world, not about the “stuff.” Making connections and making meaning are the true results of classroom making, not the plastic or cardboard artefact.

• “Doing” Is What Matters

Makers learn to make stuff by making stuff. Schools often forget this as they continuously prepare students for something that is going to happen next week, next year, or in some future career. The affordable and accessible technology of the Maker Movement makes learning by doing a realistic approach for schools today.

• Openness

Makers share designs, code, and ideas globally but making occurs locally. Makers share their expertise with a worldwide audience. “We” are smarter than “me” is the lesson for educators. Collaboration on projects of intense personal interest drive the need to share ideas and lessons learned more than external incentives like grades.

• Give It A Go

Modern maker/tinkerer are driven to invent the solution to any problem by making things, and then making those things better. Perhaps “grit” or determination can be taught, but there is no substitute for experience. The best way for students to become deeply invested in their work is for their projects to be personally meaningful, afforded sufficient development time, given access to constructive materials, and the students themselves encouraged to overcome challenges.

• Iterative Design

Computers make designing new inventions risk-free and inexpensive. You can now tinker with designs and programs and make prototypes easily and quickly. This is a departure from the linear design methodology that assumed that mistakes were expensive and need to be avoided.

• Aesthetics Matter

Many Maker projects are indistinguishable from art. It’s human to embellish, decorate,
and seek the beauty in life. In schools, there is a movement to add the Arts to STEM subjects (STEAM). That’s a good instinct, but if school hadn’t artificially removed all traces of creativity and art from STEM subjects, we wouldn’t need to talk about STEAM. Find ways to allow students to make projects with pride and unencumbered by categorization.

• Mentoring Defies Ageism

As Sir Ken Robinson says, school is the only place in the world where we sort people by their manufacturing date. The Maker Movement honours learners of all ages and embraces the sharing of expertise. Young people are valued alongside decades-older master tinkerers and inventors. Schools may create opportunities for mentoring and apprenticeship by connecting with the greater community. Access to expertise must not be limited to the classroom teacher.

• Learning Is Intensely Personal

The current buzz about “personalized learning” is more often than not a scheme to deliver content by computerized algorithm. Not only is it magical thinking to believe that computers can teach, it confuses learning with delivering content. Learning happens inside the individual. It can’t be designed or delivered. Learning is personal—always. No one can do it for you. Giving kids the opportunity to master what they love means they will love what they learn.

• It Is About the Technology too

The Maker Movement sees tools and technology as essential elements for solving unsolvable problems and not just a tool. To makers, a 3D printer is not for learning to make 3D objects. Instead it is the raw material for solving problems, such as how to create inexpensive but custom-fit prosthetic for people anywhere in the world. The Maker philosophy prepares kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated, with technology we can’t yet imagine.

• Ownership

One motto of the Maker Movement is “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it.” Educators often talk about how learners should own their own learning, but if the learner doesn’t have control, they can’t own it. Pre-packaged experiences for students, even in the name of efficiency, are depriving students of owning their own learning. Learning depends on learners with maximum agency over their intellectual processes.

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Why do we NEED makerspaces in Schools?

We must re-imagine school curriculum not as a way to prepare students for the next academic challenge, or a future career, but as a place where students are inventors, scientists, musicians, painter, poets and mathematicians today.

The Maker Movement, a technological and creative learning revolution underway around the globe, has exciting and vast implications for the world of education. New tools and technology, such as 3D printing, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computing, e-textiles, “smart” materials, and programming languages are being invented at an unprecedented pace. The Maker Movement creates affordable or even free versions of these inventions, while sharing tools and ideas online to create a vibrant, collaborative community of global problem-solvers.

Fortunately for teachers, the Maker Movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing. By embracing the lessons of the Maker Movement, educators can revamp the best student-centered (in-fact human-centered) teaching practices to engage learners of all ages.

The big game-changers of the Movement should be on every school’s radar:

• Computer Controlled Fabrication Devices

Over the past few years, devices that fabricate three-dimensional objects have become an affordable reality. These 3D printers can take a design file and output a physical object. Plastic filament is melted and deposited in intricate patterns that
build layer by layer, much like a 2D printer prints lines of dots that line by line create a printed page. With 3D design and printing, students can design and create their own objects.

• Physical Computing

New open-source micro-controllers, sensors, and interfaces connect the physical and digital worlds in ways never before possible. Wearable computing – in which circuits are made with conductive thread-makes textiles smart, flexible, and mobile. Plug-and-play devices that connect small microprocessors to the Internet, to each other, or to any number of sensors mean that low-cost, easy-to-make computational devices can test, monitor, and control your world.

• Programming

Programming is the key to controlling a new world of computational devices and the range of programming languages has never been greater. Today’s modern languages are designed for every purpose and learners of all ages.

Hard Fun and the Process of Design and the breadth of options and the “can-do” attitude espoused by the movement is exactly what students need.

Tinkering is a powerful form of “learning by doing,” an ethos shared by the rapidly expanding Maker Movement community and many educators, that inspires students to dig deeper and construct big ideas. Making learning hands-on honours the learning drive and spirit that is all too often crushed by endless worksheets and vocabulary drills.

Real science and engineering is done through tinkering. We owe it to our children to give them the tools and experiences that actual scientists and engineers use, and we are at that point in time when we can bring these tools and learning opportunities into classrooms. There are multiple pathways to learning what we have always taught, and things to do that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

There are extraordinary young people in every city, every school, and every classroom who deserve the opportunities to express themselves by inventing, creating, and making. All students need experiences that call upon their heads, hearts, and hands.

 

Makerspaces! What are they?

A collection of tools and machines does not define a Makerspace. Rather we define it by what it represents: Democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education.

To define them simply, Makerspaces (hackerspaces, hacklabs or hackspaces) come in all shapes and sizes, but they all serve as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors and expertise.

Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.

 

FABLAB

  • What is a fab lab?

Fab labs are a global network of local labs (They began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms), enabling invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication.

  • What’s in a fab lab?

Fab labs share an evolving inventory of
core capabilities to make (almost) anything, allowing people and projects to be shared.

What does the fab lab network provide?

Operational, educational, technical, financial, and logistical assistance beyond what’s available within one lab.

  • Who can use a fab lab?

Fab labs are available as a students, staff and community, offering open access for individuals as well as scheduled access for programs.

  • What are your responsibilities?

Safety: not hurting people or machines Operations: assisting with cleaning, maintaining, and improving the lab Knowledge: contributing to documentation and instruction

  • Who owns fab lab inventions?

Designs and processes developed in fab labs can be protected and sold however an inventor chooses, but should remain available for individuals to use and learn from.

  • How can businesses use a fab lab?

Commercial activities can be prototyped and incubated in a fab lab, but they must not conflict with other uses, they should grow beyond rather than within the lab, and they are expected to benefit the inventors, labs, and networks that contribute to their success.

 

I’ve worked extensively in Fab Lab CEPT. The freedom, expertise, help and sharing one comes across in this space is unparalleled. Fab Lab CEPT has enabled a lot of designers, architects, engineers, students, makers and tinkerers bring their ideas to life.

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Digital Fabrication

Digitization of fabrication is where you don’t just digitize design, but the materials and the process. The computer program doesn’t just describe the thing but becomes the thing.

 

Digital fabrication is a type of manufacturing process where the machine used is controlled by a computer. The most common forms of digital fabrication are:

  • CNC Machining It is a computer controlled cutting process that uses a milling cutter to remove material from the surface of a work-piece. The milling cutter is a rotary cutting tool, often with multiple cutting points. As opposed to drilling, where the tool is advanced along its rotation axis, the cutter in milling is usually moved perpendicular to its axis so that cutting occurs on the circumference of the cutter. The milling process removes material by performing many separate, small cuts. This is accomplished by using a cutter with many teeth, spinning the cutter at high speed, or advancing the material through the cutter slowly; most often it is some combination of these three approaches. Shapes are cut out of wooden sheets

 

  • 3D Printing Some times also called Additive Manufacturing (AM), are processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create the object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from digital model data 3D model. Commonly used methods to melt or soften material to produce layers are Fused
    Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Objects are built up out of layers of metal or plastic

 

  • Laser Cutting It is a technology that uses a laser to cut materials, it works by directing the output of a high-power laser most commonly through optics. The laser optics and CNC (computer numerical control) are used to direct the material or the laser beam generated. CO2 and Solid State are the two main types of lasercutter used. Materials like metal are burnt or melted by a laser beam

There are a huge range of digital fabrication techniques. The important aspect that unifies them is that the machines can reliably be programmed to make consistent products from digital designs.

Open Source Movement

At the end of the day, the goal of Openness is to liberate our time to engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing- instead of what we need to do to survive. All have the potential to thrive.

Today, an increasingly smaller percentage of the world’s population is in this position.

Open Source refers to the model of providing goods and services which includes the possibility of the end-user’s participation in the production of these goods and services. Open participation and collaboration – which implies the vulnerability to share work in progress, without ego, power struggle, and insecurity. The core values are efficiency, and the ethics and wisdom to understand what we should be efficient about. In practice, we should strive to find effective ways to document our work – to create an open collaboration platform – where collaborators can come on boards rapidly. While it is difficult to document – the real-time, online collaborative tools (like Instructables) of the information age make it easier – and we should aim to tap these new tools to document and develop together.

This concept has already been demonstrated in open source software and hardware. The crossover between software and hardware has lead to Open Design.

Open design is the development of physical products, processes and systems through use of publicly shared design information. Open design process is generally facilitated by the Internet. The goals and philosophy is to lead to the development of physical products rather than just software. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.
Open source movement has lead to opening access to the information and technology which enables a different economic system to be realized, one based on the integration
of natural ecology, social ecology, and industrial ecology. This economic system is based on open access- based on widely accessible information and associated access to productive capital- distributed into the hands of an increased number of people. Companies like Local Motors, Esty are practicing this.

A highly distributed, increasingly participatory model of production is the core of a democratic society, where stability is established naturally by the balance of human activity with sustainable extraction of natural resources. This is the opposite of the current mainstream of centralized economies, which have a structurally built-in tendency towards of overproduction.

The integration of the natural, societal, and industrial ecologies – Open Source Ecology- aims at sustainable and regenerative economics. We are convinced that a possibility of a quality life exists, where human needs are guaranteed to the world’s entire population- as long as we ask ourselves basic questions on what societal structures and productive activities are truly appropriate to meeting human needs for all.

 

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Drivers of Maker Culture

What defines the influence, scope and power behind this movement is its optimism in action-the-belief in individuals’ ability to enact change, and then do it. Three driving forces pushing the maker movement forward at both the individual and systemic level:

Economic: Individuals are empowered by a growing array of alternative ways to engage in the economy — taking advantage of new services and marketplaces to share, shop, sell and scale.

Communities are championing maker efforts to revitalize urban centers, stimulate small business and provide a competitive advantage to attract even more business.

Societal: Curiosity, ideology, necessity: whatever the reason, people are relying more heavily on their own hands and brains to meet daily needs. By experimenting with self-sufficiency, individuals are recognizing their own power through everyday action.
Makerspaces and private/public fab labs are popping up everywhere, allowing communities to teach themselves new skills that could revive local business or traditions in craftsmanship.

Massive person-to-person interactions are changing the landscape of information exchange and political action. Rather than waiting for institutional change, individuals are banding together to initiate social reform.

Technological: The barriers of access to making have come crashing down, as simplified design tools and cost-effective DIY kits provide individuals with cheap means to make extraordinary projects.

Makers and hackers are pairing indigenous materials, found artefacts or repurposed tools with lab-grade technology to tailor solutions to local community needs.

Knowledge of making, once passed down through specialized guilds, is being digitally codified, documented and shared. The global community of makers radiates outward from these digital networks to create a collective, transcending both language and geography.

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The Maker Culture

The maker culture is not about the STUFF we can make, it’s about the MEANING we can make.

The Maker Culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture and revels in the creation of new devices as well as tinkering with existing ones. Maker culture emphasizes learning-by-doing in a social environment.

Maker culture accentuates informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment. Maker culture encourages novel applications of technologies, and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working including electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, the traditional arts and crafts. The rise of this making subculture is rooted in the phenomenon of hackerspaces emerging themselves from the counterculture movement.

Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared hackerspaces

Some say that the maker culture is a reaction to the de-valuing of physical exploration and the growing sense of disconnection with the physical world in modern cities.

Many products produced by the maker communities have a focus on health (food),
sustainable development, environmentalism, local culture and can from that point of view also be seen as a negative response to disposables, globalized mass production, the power of chain stores, multinationals and consumerism.

Maker culture has its roots in the fifties and sixties. Magazine like The Whole Earth Catalog offered something very precious to the non-professional practitioners: the access to tools and information.

The maker culture is a social movement with an artisan spirit in which the methods of digital fabrication – previously the exclusive domain of institutions – have become accessible at a personal scale, following a logical and economic progression similar to the transition from minicomputers to personal computers in the microcomputer revolution of the 1970’s.

 

In the end maker culture isn’t about robots or 3D printing or STEM or even building things. It’s a new Renaissance, post-industrial, that is led by each person and every person being fluent with the idea of meaning making, ethics, politics of technology, and conscientization.

 

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A Complex Self

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi three decades of work on psychological concept of Flow establishes a link between happiness, creativity and making. Idea of an optimal learning environment is one where the activity engaged in is perceived as meaningful, one’s abilities are in balance with the challenge at hand, and one has the tools to express the emerging knowledge. While making people experience the state of flow in which they are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; Concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant or to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappears, and the sense of time becomes distorted. The experience itself is so gratifying that they will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

Making leads to higher form or complexity of human consciousness and to the growth of self. Complexity is the result of two broad psychological processes: Differentiation and Integration.

A complex self is the one that succeeds in combining these opposite tendencies. Flow helps to integrate the self because in a state of deep concentration consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings, and all the senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. Once experience is over; one feels more together, less predictable, possessed of rarer skills and unique than before, not only internally but also with respect to other people and to the world in general.

Differentiation implies a movement towards uniqueness, towards separating oneself from others.

Integration implies a union with other people, with ideas and entities beyond the self.

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Why Do We Make?

Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.

Make. Just make. This is the key. The world is a better place as a participatory sport. Being creative, the act of creating is actually fundamental to what it means to be human. Physical making is more personally fulfilling than virtual making.

According to Jean Piaget (Constructivism) and Seymour Papert (Constructionism) building knowledge structure occurs best through building things that are tangible and shareable; Learning-by-Doing. People learn effectively through making things. Knowledge and the world are both constructed and interpreted through action, and mediated through symbol use. Each gains existence and form through the construction of the other. Knowledge structure building happens felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sandcastle or a theory of the universe.

Making is not just learning-by-doing, but engaging reflexively and socially. Both the creation process and the produced artifacts ought to be socially shared. Once you make
something, there is a sense of achievement, whether you make a notebook or an insanely complex contraption.

We as a race are driven by reward system, when someone appreciates our work and efforts we lower our guards and engage in conversations. So, act of making something eventually leads to act of engaging into conversations, idea and knowledge sharing. And this entire process taken on a macroscopic view leads to formation of collective consciousness.
Jay Silver states making leads to re-seeing (lens) the everyday world as something we can re-make (block)

Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.

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