Open education and maker spaces and co-work spaces

We’ve bounced around the idea of collaborating with physical spaces to do something, but we haven’t been able to put a finger on exactly what that would be?

What would a mayor success in such a collaboration look like?

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I’ll give one thing that I think will be great - if we can help a maker space be an alternative to studying at a formal educational institute.


To elaborate a bit:

I think it could work to get a few Maker spaces to offer 2-5 internships to students. These students will work on a project based curriculum to step them through basic electronics, programming, manufacturing, printing, crowd funding & scaling to production.

The class is all the other students in different maker spaces and they connect and share regularly using online tools. The Maker spaces are the infrastructure providers and the students’ expert community (in addition to everything that is online).

This doesn’t require a lot of resources - Maker spaces take on the number of interns that they can support, curriculum need some curation but exists to a large extend and online tools for collaboration already exist.

This has the potential to reach people who normally won’t have access to skills and/or the internet, but this doesn’t need to be the initial focus.

Success metrics could be: having a certain number of Maker spaces collaborate, a high completion rate, some financial success (viable marketplace skills or products) ongoing programs after the initial one.

This is by no means an ultimate plan, but if we manage to do something along these lines I would be really happy about it. I think it can bring online and offline together, it can reach a different crowd and it can test peer education as an alternative on a small scale.

@vanessa please weigh in with your suggestions, I know you have many good ones!

This is one awesome idea. A few things:

  • When you say students, who exactly do you have in mind?
  • Would this curriculum be set out before the beginning or would there be just a layout and the group makes it out as they go along?

I love love love love this idea.

Grouping: I think 2-5 folks sounds great, would be wonderful if they were a diverse crew with a common goal.

Timing: OpenTechSchool’s Hackership program surveyed potential hackers and found that most preferred a part-time scenario.

I’d love to see the equipment either a.) donated or b.) folks could make their own arduinos. Or we could indigogo this. Or connect with a University–I know Columbia is turning lots of libraries into makerspaces.

Hi @dirk,

Sounds like a great idea. I’m hosting a presentation about the Open Master’s programme this weekend to try and get a group going here in Durban. I have been thinking about contacting the local hackerspaces here (we have three in the Durban area) to see if they would be happy to be a venue for Open Masters meetings. I’ve just read through this post and I realized this was in-line with what I was thinking. Perhaps you would like to make contact with our local hackerspaces and find out their thoughts on internships. Their website is at:


I love the idea of doing some more online-offline stuff. Makerspace as alternative to bachelors degree / trade certificate seems a big ambition! For that goal, I reckon success would have to be employment/certification in a profession/trade. Phaps a longer term project :)…

More generally, I imagine success would be achieving something more than is currently goes on in such spaces - eg

  • making it accessible to those who wouldn’t otherwise take the leap unassisted (easier to measure), or
  • helping those who’d be there anyway achieve more than they would in the absence of the collaboration (hard to measure!)

Given the self-starter & always-learning nature of that community, I think there’s a real challenge in designing an experience that’s sufficiently light-touch to appeal but substantial enough to make a real difference beyond the extensive (unstructured) self-directed learning and learning-by-osmosis which would be going on anyway…

It doesn’t need to start that way. And it doesn’t neet to be us who does it long term… We should think about how this can work in the long term, who will do it, can it scale, etc.

If we target people who aren’t already part of a maker space this becomes less of a problem. And if we manage to introduce the self-started & always learning culture to someone who didn’t have it before I think we succeed. But point taken, we need to deliver value, not simply do what is already happening.

We could look at it as testing how to connect members from a physical community and an online community in a way that strengthens both?

Part of the success metric could be continued engagement with the maker space and active communication with members from the online group after the completion of the program?

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I was thinking someone out of school without a higher education. That may be a bit limiting though.

Who do you think should be the student?

We can supply themed assignments that students can choose from and let the maker space and internet supply the learning materials? We should think about the possible assignments, if it will provides enough structure and what will still be missing.

Overall I don’t think we should do a lot of curriculum development. Also, we have limited skills/experience/time to do so ourselves.

What are your thoughts on the curriculum?

Hi @dirk, @Carl, @Erika, @vanessa,

I don’t think it is necessary focus only on those without a higher education. For example, I know some CA’s who have attended technical workshops because they have a desire to learn something outside of their field of expertise. I have an academic background in Psychology and Computer Science, but I would love to participate in a DIY Biology Lab for example.

I don’t think P2PU staff should create any curriculum for such a project. I might be mistaken, but in my opinion, doing so would almost go against the philosophy of peer learning, creating the dynamic of an institution dictating a syllabus, rather than allowing the learning resources and content to emerge organically, and in a peer to peer fashion.

What I do think the P2PU staff should focus on, however, is creating and maintaining linkages between P2PU and communities such as hackerspaces, makerspaces, and so on. P2PU already is a great platform for peer learning, and a lot of these community spaces have a mentoring model, which seems to me to map perfectly to your Experts and Participants model on the P2PU platform. All that is needed is to connect the two communities and create a feedback loop to enhance the symbiosis.


I agree, but it will be nice to have a learning experience where the mayority of people don’t already have a degree. A lot of online MOOCs seems to be taken by people with at least one degree.

Interesting point. I think sometimes we need to use some fertilizer to allow organic things to emerge :slight_smile: But I agree, we shouldn’t create the actual learning materials used.

I also thing that some fertilization is needed, otherwise focus is a problem (speaking from experience). I am not suggesting a strict curriculum here, but no guidelines can be confusing and people might not show up.

I like the idea of challenges or project ideas, or maybe even a competition (as long as everyone is a winner). Especially for beginners it is useful to have some constraints to get started. Creativity develops from tension with constraints. And it takes time to understand the possibilities of the technology.

I think of maker spaces as one network within a new physical infrastructure for distributed learning. I would love to see libraries go in this direction as well.

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" Creativity develops from tension with constraints. And it takes time to understand the possibilities of the technology."

one of my personal heroes said “Limitations are the soils from which creativity grows”