2024 Updates from Equity in the Making Lab

The new year brings with it exciting news from the Equity in the Making (EiTM) Lab. We are thrilled to announce updates about our virtual makerspace, strategies for incorporating inclusive signage in your makerspace, and an overview of upcoming events.

Virtual Makerspace Web Traffic in 2023 

Pie chart of international engagement

Graph illustrating international impact.

We are excited to share that in 2023, our website has attracted 1,446 visitors. This is a 52% increase from 2022, showing a steady growth of  engagement.

The impact of our research reached a global audience in 2023. In 2023, we presented findings from Dr. Melo’s NSF funded study “Equity in the Making: Investigating Spatial Arrangements of Makerspaces and Their Impact on Diverse User Populations” in several national conferences, and two international conferences. The graph shows what engagement the EiTM Lab has had internationally – with viewers from Canada, India, and Australia, amongst others. 

We were also keen to assess how practitioners, librarians, and researchers have used the Virtual Makerspace open educational resource (OER). Overall, the Virtual Makerspace for Researchers & Practitioners has received 570 views since its creation in June 2023, and the virtual makerspace has been accessed 61 times. A couple of users reached out to us following our talk about the Redesigned Virtual Makerspace at the International Symposium of Academic Makerspaces, and we asked how they used the resources. They explained how they shared the Virtual Makerspace with their colleagues and managers, and that findings from our research are shaping their thoughts around makerspace design. Specifically, users stated: 

“We are always trying to see how other spaces are set up to improve our own. The virtual tours definitely help make that a lot easier without having to go to a physical space! Seeing your VR space has given us some ideas of things we can look to implement in the future (the lines that show how to get somewhere).” Louli Kourkounakis, Manager of Rutgers Makerspace at Rutgers University

“I’ve been keeping some of the takeaways in mind around signage, color, furniture choice, and layout, as we plan for events in our space and as we make continuous improvements more generally.” – David Selles, Senior Director of STEAM Education and Operations at The Possible Zone

Future research is needed to understand the full extent of the ways the OERs are used, but the responses we have thus far are promising. 

Signage for Your Makerspace

Whether or not you have utilized the virtual makerspace yet, we are sharing signage ideas that were created for the virtual makerspace, which you can now use in your makerspace! The document linked below showcases. Signage is a small, but impactful way to grant students “permission” to use and interact with the space. Access the Makerspace Stickers created on Canva, or learn more about the types of stickers at this OER “Changes in Re-Designed Makerspace.” To revise the existing makerspace stickers we designed, you can make your own copy of the Makerspace Stickers and revise them with a free Canva account.

Sticker examples granting permission

Examples of stickers that communicate inclusion.

For more information on the study’s findings on signage and makerspace inclusion, check out our publication “The Power of First Impressions: Exploring the Design Impact of ‘Small Details’ and Signage for First-time Makerspace Users.”

Recent and Upcoming EITM Events

Research assistant Grace Zhang (attended in person) and Dr. Melo (participated remotely) attended the CRAFT Network convening 2024 in San Francisco, CA in February. This convening inspired change-making through collaboration and research, advancing the impact of making for equity and education. Grace shared the virtual makerspace with a group of makerspace leaders and practitioners from across the country. Attending the CRAFT Network conference will advance EiTM’s work in equity in making with the national makerspace community and bring back new ideas to inspire future work. 

Additionally, research assistant Rachel Rodney (attending in person) and Dr. Melo (participating remotely) will join the Maker Literacies Mini Immersion on February 23, 2024. Throughout this event, the group aims to delve into maker literacies and examine relevant policies. The aim of the event is to drive learning in maker environments in universities. 

Furthermore, Dr. Melo will be the keynote speaker at Library 2.024’s mini-conference “AI and Libraries: Applications, Implications, and Possibilities” on March 21st. This mini-conference will investigate the impact of AI on libraries and resources in public spaces, to share considerations of how libraries might evolve as AI continues to shape everyday life.