From Making to Learning

Recently (end of May, 2022), I had a wonderful discussion with Roberta Sgarliglia – a Data Scientist with an interest in understanding how creative/unconventional methods can be used to improve mental health in adults – about the role of ‘making’ in adult/lifelong learning (e.g. hackathons, maker fairs, dev camps etc.). Roberta wrote an article based on our discussion for Elm, the European lifelong learning magazine. The article can be found in the following link:

Shortly after, I also reflected on this discussion and here are my “notes”:

  • Key in makerspaces is the creation of artifacts through a creative process in a social arena (so here we’re talking about working with others, collaborating with others).
  • At the same time, these artifacts are not merely “products” of an assignment but come from personal everyday experience of the maker. In order for the maker to create these artifacts, the maker has to learn, communicate and share. This back and forth between externalizing and internalizing knowledge over constructive and creative activities are fundamental mechanics for learning through making
  • Typical making activities used to revolve or involve the creation of tangible artifacts, usually in physical workshops or workspaces where makers would meet to build something together. What happened with the pandemic, is that we saw a rise in online activities that otherwise would happen face to face – therefore, we’ve witnessed a shift to digital making activities – and here i also include hackathons as part of these activities. By “digital making”, I define activities involving the use of digital tools and technologies for the realization of projects that aim at the production of digital artifacts. What might be different in this condition is that makers have to use a whole new skillset: beyond the simple usage of tools for construction, they need to acquire digital skills and literacies 
  • The means or the technology that the maker uses to achieve their goals are means of personal intellectual expression or “expressive objects” (Dewey, 1934; Hoppe, 2009) that represent the experience of the maker and, ultimately, lead to learning through critical making. 
  • In this context, the artifacts that makers produce can be perceived as evidence of their learning process. Some of these ideas were discussed here: (Chounta et al, 2017)

Anyone interested on the topic: we have an open call for papers in Frontiers:  

#makerspaces #hackathons #learningthroughmaking #projectbasedlearning 

Original Twitter Thread:


Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: Minton, Balch and Company.

Hoppe, H. U. (2009). The Disappearing Computer: Consequences for Educational Technology? In Interactive Artifacts and Furniture Supporting Collaborative Work and Learning (pp. 1–17). Springer.

Chounta, I. A., Manske, S., & Hoppe, U. (2017). “From Making to Learning”: introducing Dev Camps as an educational paradigm for Re-inventing Project-based Learning. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, (14), 18.