Special report: The maker culture

UNT is supporting and leading the maker culture through programming and facilities, engaging students with other students and with faculty.

When visiting UNT, you can experience the maker culture across campus from The Factory at the UNT Libraries to the Digital Fabrication Lab (FabLab) in UNT’s Art Building, and beyond.

Much discussion, review and research has been devoted to makerspace. While interesting, it misses the bigger point.

Maker culture

Maker culture is a more “complete” term in an effort to define a movement that is underway in America and around the world. The “buzz” over the last few years has been about “makerspace.” In fact, a defined “space” directly competes with the intentions of those involved in the maker movement. Discussion around “space” also short changes the broad and far-reaching opportunity related to makers.

“Makers” do not want to be confined to a space, or to a teaching, or to a structure. Makers want the freedom to engage, to create, to build, and to ideate without boundaries. Boundaries to makers are socially-contrived spaces, or places. It is the desire of a maker to demonstrate the “free flow of ideas,” quite literally. The maker desires the opportunity and ability to operate — and create — in a constant “free flow.’”

Maker culture emphasizes learning through doing.

What it is not

Maker culture — and makers — are NOT about starting a business; in fact, discussions about, or assignments of, the term “entrepreneur” are outdated and resisted by the maker community. Makers may, or may not, be “entrepreneurs;” they are all: Creative doers.

Recognizing, embracing and supporting this culture encourages people from all walks of life to create, to innovate, to build — to be productive citizens.

The maker culture is transforming innovation, culture and education. And while higher education has begun to embrace it and the needs of the culture — including the build-out of collaboration labs and related spaces — it is incumbent upon institutions of higher learning to fully embrace the “movement,” and the changes that must occur in education and instruction to challenge and engage students, and perhaps more importantly, they must embrace the movement in order to remain relevant.

Over the last decade, educators at all levels have been concerned about students’ disengagement. The maker culture offers a more participatory approach to learning; it is therefore believed to have the potential to bring “life to learning,” and thus be more relevant to students of this growing maker culture.

“Accessing the means” is the need of the maker. The landscape must evolve to focus on this dynamic. Those businesses and institutions that do not fully embrace, accommodate, or provide “the means” for this growing, multi-disciplinary culture face uncertain futures.

Future certain

The maker culture. Maker cities. Makers. This movement is here to stay. And encouraged, this culture and its growing number of makers will create relevant and competitive future economy, industries and jobs.