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A Thematic Analysis of the Maker Movement in Cyberspace Across Cultural Contexts

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Latest Trends and Implementations in Manufacturing Education

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Avneet Hira Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Avneet is a doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interests include K-12 education and first year engineering in the light of the engineering design process, and inclusion of digital fabrication labs into classrooms. Her current work at the FACE lab is on the use of classroom Makerspaces for an interest-based framework of engineering design. She is also interested in cross-cultural work in engineering education to promote access and equity. She is an aerospace engineer, and is the present Vice President (Educational Content) of the Student Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED).

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Morgan M. Hynes Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

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The encouragement for this paper lies in the Maker Movement and the opportunities that it presents for engineering education in formal and informal environments. Several countries have taken to the Maker Culture in classrooms, after-school program, libraries, museums and other spaces that were not traditionally considered educational. Further still, the Internet is brimming with virtual communities, tutorials, blogs and other resources that have brought together Makers from different parts of the world. These physical and virtual activities have expanded to such an expanse that Maker Culture no longer has a single face, like the one at its advent. Makerspaces are also being used for formal and informal educational experiences in myriads of ways, though at the same time there has been explicit acknowledgment of the potential but missing linkage between Makerspaces and education.

This paper is a thematic analysis of the current face of the Maker movement as presented in cyberspace over different cultural contexts. In addition to thematizing these activities, we identify the educational aspects of these activities, tying them to educational philosophies such as constructivism, constructionism, and social constructionism.

For this thematic analysis we collect data from the cyber space in different cultural contexts. We identify themes within a context, and classify the data accordingly. Further we identify themes across contexts, with particular attention to themes of commonality and dissent within contexts. We also compare and contrast the educational aspects of these activities as linked to educational theories.

The themes for these activities contributing to the Maker culture of the world range from those directly related to Maker Media, independently run blogs and websites, community co-working spaces, other virtual communities, to published books and manifestos pertaining to the Maker movement. The word “make” shows up a great example for contrasting cultural themes in the contexts of the United States and India. Where in the U.S., many results have a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) individualistic flavor to them, in India making is often seen as an opportunity for accentuating the manufacturing sector of the country. This study presents the many faces of the Maker culture, makes connections between these myriad activities, and explores their relevance for education.

Hira, A., & Hynes, M. M. (2016, June), A Thematic Analysis of the Maker Movement in Cyberspace Across Cultural Contexts Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26469

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