Makerspace technology enhances student experiences

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The libraries of today are no longer places to only access texts from the past.Alongside a wide variety of digital and print resources, Brock’s James A. Gibson Library is also home to a wealth of state-of-the-art technology.Brand new 3D-printing options, Snowball microphones and GoPro cameras are just some of the advanced tools in Brock’s Makerspace that are playing a key role in enhancing the University’s experiential education efforts.Last year, the University received provincial funding through the Career Ready Fund, which was offered to all Ontario universities for the purpose of expanding experiential learning and career-readiness initiatives. Along with expanding initiatives into new, first-year and international courses, Brock also added digital technology to reduce barriers to innovative teaching and learning.Tabitha Lewis, Brock’s Makerspace Co-ordinator said the new tools have allowed faculty members to enhance their courses in ways that would have once been much more complicated.“We’ve been able to run a variety of seminars for classes that have a use for the technology found in the Makerspace,” she said. “The seminars often lead to instructors choosing to borrow the equipment for longer periods of time to run in-class exercises of their own, and we are happy to help make that happen.”This term, Political Science students have participated in seminars that have taught them how to make their own podcasts, while Classics students have engaged in 3D modelling exercises to better understand the artifacts they are studying. For Associate Professor of Classics Carrie Murray, the experiential opportunities available in the Makerspace create new horizons for students in the Introduction to Archaeology course (CLAS 2P32).“The 3D printing of real archaeological artifacts brings a new dimension of experiential learning to our Art and Archaeology courses in the Classics Department,” she said. “Students are researching artifacts from major international museums that have been 3D scanned and made available online. We will be printing one or more of the artifact replicas that the students propose in order to increase the experiential education opportunities in other Classics courses.”  Associate Director of Experiential Education Sandy Howe said the additional funding and new hardware it has provided has allowed Brock to continue to set the standard for experiential learning opportunities at Ontario universities.“The funding has allowed us to invest in an area of student growth that is critical to future employment, while also exploring new ways of teaching and learning,” she said. “The technology allows for more innovative experiences in academic courses, where students not only learn the skills required to use the technology, but they also have the opportunity to prepare for their next steps.”Alongside Political Science and Classics courses, students and faculty in ESL Services, Modern Languages and Education have also explored the new resources.With countless other potential uses, Lewis hopes people from every area of the University will take advantage of the available technology.“We want as many people as possible to come in and learn how to use the tools,” she said. “We are ready to work with programs in any Faculty, and we can’t wait to see what creative projects our technology is used for next.”Faculty members interested in learning more about the Makerspace or other experiential learning opportunities can:  review the Faculty Guidebook on the Experiential Education web page,  contact the experiential education co-ordinator connected to their Faculty/department, or contact the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation’s new Curriculum Specialist, Jennifer Kopczinski, whose position was also funded by the Career Ready Fund, or Faculty Associate for Experiential Education, Madelyn Law

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