Lap 4 - Idea Exchange

“I read Guilford’s article the same week that I attended World Maker Faire in Queens, NY. This event celebrated the creators of things ranging from robots to costumes. The engineering professor in me saw some incredible examples of technology, but more than anything, what I noticed were the people who were passionate about creating things and sharing their knowledge with others. The excitement was infectious and evident in attendees of all ages. Throughout the fairgrounds, there were opportunities for children and adults to learn skills like soldering, energizing conversations about the intricate details of various 3D printers, makers young and old showing off the things they’d made, and a pervasive air of curiosity. That sense of curiosity and collaboration is what I wish for all of my students, as well as for my own children.”

Thomas, Ann Marie, et al. Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. Maker Media, 2014.

Podcast Companion Episode(s):

MVIFI Blog Companion Post:


In each of the previous 3 lessons, I’ve introduced (and reintroduced) you to David Lang, author of Zero to Maker. The core message of the book, in my opinion, is most related to IDEA EXCHANGE so it’s worth another visit here. Zero to Maker takes you on David’s journey from a desk job devoid of purpose to cultivating skills and networks that filled his cup. Notably, Chapter 2 is dedicated to the idea of DIT (Do-It-Together). In it he describes:

But making, as i discovered early on, was about the art of finding other people - seeking out teachers, creating and joining like-minded groups, collaborating with strangers - and co-creating together. As long as you have an initiative to get started, it quickly evolves to Do-It-Together, of DIT.

Lang, David. Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just about) Anything. Maker Media, 2014.

I bet if you have found yourself on this page - particularly the back half of our learning arc here - then you have been to or seen a maker faire. Think about the incredible diversity in projects on display there. Are you drawn to the power tool races or the cigar box guitars? The La-Z-Boy vehicle or lasercut art pieces? Below is the list of topics, projects and makers from the 2017 World Maker Faire. Wow!! Take a few minutes to click through some.

Meet the Makers - World Maker Faire 2017

(you didn’t cheat did you? Actually flip through some projects. I’ll wait)

OK, glad you are back. That took longer than you thought didn’t it?! I’m willing to bet a dozen juice boxes that you had an idea while you were wandering and maybe even wondering if you could pull that off. Maybe you thought about an adjacent idea that was a little more in your wheelhouse. In any case, the act of you perusing projects isn’t necessarily the core of IDEA EXCHANGE, but that fact that they, Maker Faire, shared and made their ideas accessible is.

The Driving Cog

Steven Johnson - to oversimplify things - has made his living chasing the question “where do good ideas come from”. He has a book of the same title as well as follow up books Wonderland and How We Got to Now. Both books make compelling cases for what sparks innovative thought. Broadly, though, I think IDEA EXCHANGE - how, where, and when humans have the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas - is really the theme that ties them together. Over 4 million people have been influenced by his TED talk which introduced us to to the term we now use to describe how we share IDEA EXCHANGE (...so meta) - Liquid Network.

Jim and Chris really do a fantastic job of describing what a liquid network looks like in a maker studio. This is one of those moments where seeing it in action is way more valuable than describing it with words. Have you observed a student exclaim “I got it!” only to have several others gather around to learn from her? Idea Exchange. Have you had a student self assign homework - staying up all night watching youtube videos - to learn how to do something just right? Idea exchange. Have you had a room full of different projects going on and you hear the continual murmur of “what are you working on?”. Idea exchange.


Places to wander and wonder

In the FABRICATION lesson in particular, we offered up several places we go to be inspired by projects and builds. A nuance between that and IDEA EXCHANGE is that the latter is a bit more people centered. HEL-LOOOO connection to Design Thinking! Below, then, are just a few of the people we love to follow, network with, an be inspired by in no particular order:


Your Turn to Play

REFLECTION PROMPT: We’ve talked a lot about sharing and making work visible. We’ve shared some of ours and students’ work as well as our favorite places to see what other people are making out in the world. Where do you and your students share? Do you have a portfolio system in place? Do you invite others into your studio? Is creative work on display in your school or place of work? Do you talk to other humans about the cool stuff you are working on? (C’mon….it’s that easy).

Make a plan for the way(s) you will create a culture of sharing at your organization.

HELPFUL HINT: Don’t know where to start? Just use your new found Idea Exchange superpowers ;) (kidding, not kidding). For me, I’ve been using a wordpress ePortfolio as the primary means for students to capture and share their learning. They tag posts and categorize posts with the type of build (eg. foundation, quick hack, major project) and tag them with the elements of Cognitive Gearing. Emily, Justin and Bryce give you a sense of 3 different semesters using portfolios. The video below is not pretty or polished by any stretch, but it might give a sense of how I coach students to set up their portfolio. At the end of the day, the portfolio is meant to be a reflection tool AND a means of sharing and learning from each other….hence the public platform.

ALTERNATE ROUTE: Jim Tiffin has done a ton of work with our MDE program (and beyond) with regard to PROVOCATIONS. This is a term that has become deeply rooted in our everyday MDE terminology. Jim’s blog post describes the nuances between provocation, instigation, invitation and investigation, but in short, we use provocations as “a constructionist methodology for learning experience design in maker-centered classrooms.” In other words, it is a tool to “force” IDEA EXCHANGE and a means for structured conversation and reflection about making. It is a powerful tool to have in your makerEd toolbox!

The full season of Build In Progress is available on iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher, or wherever you go to get your podcasts.
In each episode of the Build in Progress Podcast we ask our guests what they are listening too. Here it is...in all its eclectic glory for you to tap your toes to. It is a collaborative playlist, so we invite you to add your own Maker Tracks to this list!

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