The Maker Production Line: From Authors’ Narratives to Students’ Craft

By Jennifer Rowsell and Amélie Lemieux, Brock University

In line with Blum-Ross and Livingstone’s latest blog post on how parents play an important role in children’s making processes, we continue the blog post series by sharing the outcomes of a recent research project, Maker Literacies, that involves a teacher (Melissa Turcotte), an author (Frieda Wilshinsky), a literacy expert (Larry Swartz), and a digital art professional (Jennifer Burkitt) from Log Cabin Productions.

Adults’ involvement in Maker Spaces has been documented insofar as they developed designated library spaces in international educational spaces sites (e.g., the UK, Australia, Canada, the United States), which sparked the #participatorylibraries movement. Our idea of makerspaces was more in line with this one, but involved multiple key adult experts in the process. That is, in Fall 2017, the research we conducted with elementary school students, in a school located in St. Catharines, Ontario (Can), showed that adults’ involvement in maker projects can be beneficial for students. As such, we developed the following graph illustrating how each adult mobilized their expertise in ways that benefitted students in their making processes:

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 09.27.52

Figure 1: The Maker Production Line

Thinking about Space and Circling with Transmedia Story Worlds

Pondering on our research rationale and questions, we thought about Comber, Woods and Grant’s (2017) idea of the Imagination Station, mostly as a way of reflecting on negotiating creative spaces for imagining, in our case, imagining and making transmedia story worlds (Garcia, 2017). What was surprising about this project was that we did not anticipate the level of engagement students underwent as they played with Pixton. Sounds, moving images, character development, storyboard design—all these steps were part of imagining transmedia story worlds. These processes were inherent to maker mindsets. What we have learned is developing students’ imagination and agency depends on collective efforts, a dialogic digital va-et-vient between makers and the surrounding material and immaterial parties at play. In this case, the adults played a central role in assisting makers, creating novel maker spaces from beginning to end.

Picture1Jimmy working with Pixton and exploring character design options using his picture


To read more about this project, please click here.

We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for supporting this research (grant number 435-2017-0097).

This SSHRC-funded research study is associated with MakEY.

Featured Image: Frieda Wishinsky (author) and Dr. Larry Swartz reading aloud a story from the Canadian Flyer Series

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