MakEY in Melbourne

Hans Christian Arnseth and David Hyatt

Melbourne is in many ways an epitome of a modern city. It is diverse, dynamic and full of life. The MakEY project has a strong link to Victoria University through Professor Nicola Yelland and several members of the project will travel to Melbourne during the next couple of years. We can promise that they will have a very interesting stay. The people we have met have been extremely generous and kind. Fortunately David (Hyatt) from Sheffield University and Hans Christian (Arnseth) from the University of Oslo were here at the same time. Luckily both are die-hard Liverpool supporters, so it was quite easy to get along.

D & H at VU 2We decided to join forces and present on the MakEY project together. We gave one seminar at Victoria University, which is located in the western part of Melbourne. The Faculty of Education is located in Footscray. This is a very multicultural suburb. Nicola helped to organize a seminar. She also took Hans Christian to an Aussie rules footie game to provide him with relevant cultural experiences. Melbourne is sports crazy and both Hans Christian and David went to see games at the legendary MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

Members of the faculty attended the seminar, and we had a very interesting discussion about makerspaces, creativity and digital literacies. Hans Christian and David also introduced their own interests in the project. The issue of assessment is crucial and controversial in the makerspace-community. Too much focus on assessment might kill creativity. On the other hand, with regard to formal education current standards and criteria does not assess creativity and innovation skills. We argued that it is important to have a broader approach to assessment, where also more formative approaches to assessment are used. There is currently no research on makerspaces in Education at VU, but we met Greg Giannis who is involved in setting up a makerspace in a school. Luckily he invited us to visit the school.

Hans at Deakin

We also did a talk at Deakin University, which is located in Burwood, to the North East of the city centre. Professor Catherine Beavis helped organize this seminar. She is very interested in the use of computer games in education, and we had an interesting discussion about this topic in the car on our way to campus. Researchers from the department attended, and the talk was also on videolink to Melbourne University. The discussion was lively and interesting. The issue of makerspaces and the settings where they are situated emerged as an interesting topic. It seems that makerspaces become very different spaces if they are situated within more formal school settings. This might make us lose some of the engagement of interest-driven activities, but it makes it easier to reach educational objectives. How activities are framed or structured and its consequences for children’s agency constitute an interesting issue to research in the project. After the seminar we had dinner in trendy Fitzroy and also met up with Professor Julian Sefton-Green, who is taking up a position in Deakin next semester.

David at Deakin 2

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