Preservice Teachers Using Makerspaces to Address the Challenges of Teaching Digital Learners: A Self-Directed Creative Exploration
Abstract: If, as current research suggests, the goal of education is to prepare K-12 students to be fluent in future ready and digital competencies, then the need for teachers to be proficient at integrating technology into the learning environments they design for students has never been greater. Preparation for teaching in digital classrooms and designing learning environments for students immersed in a digital society has become increasingly important in teacher education programs, and there is an urgent need for preservice teachers to leave teacher education programs prepared to create meaningful digital learning experiences. This paper shares the findings from an exploratory pre-pilot study that introduces makerspaces to preservice teachers, and the connections preservice teachers made between the teaching of mathematics and makerspace experiences. Preliminary findings suggest that participants did gain knowledge and skills about the use of makerspaces for teaching mathematical concepts in primary/junior learning environments, developed their Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge through the makerspace activities, and conducted computational thinking skills throughout the workshop. A key finding was that through participation in the in-class makerspace, participants were able to describe how makerspace activities could be used to connect multiple strands in mathematics together to enable students to learn concepts holistically.