Program Variations Tool

There are so many aspects of a makerspace that influence its success as a place or program of learning. 

The purpose of this activity is to develop common language across team members related to important aspects of your makerspace practice. This tool can also be a starting point for action. This tool is designed to encourage cross-organizational discussion and consideration of many of the core aspects of makerspace or maker program activity and practice, and how those aspects fit together and impact one another.
This tool displays many of the core factors that are often considered when designing and maintaining a makerspace, such as facilitation, types of tools and materials, structure of activities, etc. as spectra, and encourages participants to consider these various facets of their maker program or space across these various spectra.

How To Use the Program Variations Tool

This activity can take at least one hour to facilitate, and up to an entire day to explore.The steps below guide participants to first assess where they are on the various spectra under each of the five categories (activities, learners, space, facilitation, tools & materials) and then have discussions about different perspectives of the participants. 

Getting Started

As a group, choose one big part of your work as it relates to making, such as the design of the space or a specific program that you will use this tool to consider. You can decide whether you want participants to focus on one or two categories or assess all of them.

As individuals, mark with an x where your chosen space or program falls on each of the spectra. Once completed, discuss with one partner from your team where you decided to place your space or program on the various spectra. To encourage conversation, focus on where you see the biggest differences in opinion.

  • Discussion Prompts: Where were they similar? Where were they different? What do these differences tell you? What do the similarities tell you?

The differences may be the result of different perspective on or visions for your makerspace or program that two team members have. The difference also may be due to a different of interpretation. All of these differences, and even the similarities are important to consider as your team develops and evolves your makerspace and/or program. 

Group Discussion

Once you’ve discussed with a pair, share with a whole group where you saw differences in your partner discussion. Discuss as a whole group.

  • What is noticed about the group responses?
  • What is noticed from conversations within your team?
  • What meaningful variation to we see across our team?

For more information, instructional videos and activity extensions, please visit the Making + Learning Online Course at P2PU