Tuesday, 15 March 2016 11:02

Current version of MHC Makerspace all because of 2015 success

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‘Make/Hack/Create’ is a fascinating-sounding theme or slogan.

And in reality, it is: it's as interesting and diverse as what ‘Make/Hack/Create’ is advertising.
As part of the 2016 launch for the Medicine Hat College (MHC)’s Makerspace initiative, the slogan was derived from a dedicated group of MHC staffers.
In strict definite, a Makerspace “is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate.”
Last year, the pilot MHC Makerspace project Makerspace YXH which was spearheaded by the College's Carly Ridgewell, James Kuehn, and Leigh Cunningham. The 2015 Makerspace YXH definitely laid the foundation and built some momentum for this year.
Officially the 2016 Makerspace program launched Feb. 29 with the Makerspace area or Café Corner an open area clearly visible from outside the main entrance of the Vera Bracken Library in an enclosed glass area, is being officially made available with computers which are loaded with artistic programs including Silhouette CAMEO, a die cutting printer where posters can be created as well as an area where 3-D technology can be further explored amongst others.
Shawna Murphy, outreach librarian; Chuck Payne, Director, Library & Information Technology Service; and Shane Lanz, the team lead for the Information Technology Services (ITS) Support Centre are all involved with the 2016 edition of Makerspace.
“Makerspace YXH was successful; James Kuehn (instructor) took it and made it big,” explains Murphy. “Part of the goal was to take last year which was more of a preliminary, pilot project and make it bigger. This is a progression of that last one.”
“We just wanted to explore the idea of Makerspace,” adds Payne. “Makerspace is in libraries and it has a multimedia component to it and we wanted to see what it in mean in terms of student usage and how it relates to information literacy, as well as art and creative literacy within a post secondary environment.”
“It's the modern take on lending,” notes Lanz. “We're basically lending digital information on line... we're lending information...lending the use of technology, software, space and tables and we're making more use of the tables in the library. We're looking at it as a public service.”
What Murphy's job was to what the interest level was with the pilot project, what garnered the most attention and demand, but then they had to compare that with what they had available for current personnel and technological resources. In 2015, the idea was to put everything in the library both from practical and philosophical standpoint. The library is a place of learning and information resources so it would seem if Makerspace patrons were looking for more information on a topic it was available to them.
Early in 2015, the initial entry into Makerspace took place and was highly successful in it proved there was a desire for more of the Makerspace program.
Murphy took over her role as outreach librarian in September 2015 and Makerspace was one of the projects which needed her attention. She was part of a Makerspace Committee which is comprised of other librarians, information technology people and with Payne.
“What we have here in the library is the space, and then we determined 'this is what we have for resources,'” explains Murphy who was well aware of what Makerspace was but had to get up to speed on what they meant to MHC. “(Also determined) what are the needs of the students and those who wanted to be part of Makerspace. What emerged was the need for more software.”
Lanz explains areas such as video editing amongst other artistic programs were popular. With Makerspace, Lanz was just excited to see people come in, try some of the programs and see what can be done with them. The whole idea behind Makerspace was to allow people the freedom to work with the computer software and see what they could accomplish.
With students and the public having access to these programs, it sounds like there could be a lot of time factors which come into play but Lanz says it actually works out with access to the computers for everyone. Lanz says staff will be watching to see if there are enough computers for those interested in playing with the programs.
“With a small group of people interested in the programs you can roll it out no problem,” says Lanz. “Someone can get into it (and not feel pressure). Because it's in such a high traffic area, (library and college staff) will be able to watch and see how busy it is. We are looking through the glass as we're walking by it several times a day.”
They will be keeping logs and monitoring how well it's being utilized.
With all of this emphasis on technology and software, the moniker for the Makerspace 2016 edition is certainly appropriate, once one understands the context: “Make. Hack. Create.”
“We want advancement in the program,” says Murphy. “The only thing about last year was that we didn't have a lot to draw back to the college.”
But with Make/Medicine; Hack/Hat; Create/College (MHC), it ties both the Makerspace initiative with the college to remind people the college and the library is a place for creative learning and exploring.
The next official scheduled Makerspace Session March 17, it's 3-D scanner day which goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with Kuehn. The emphasis on the entire March 14-18 week is 3-D scanning at the Vera Bracken Library. During March 21-25, the week will be concentrating on microcontrollers March 22, a 4 p.m. A special presentation on the subject will take place with the College's talented expert instructor Steve Letkeman According to Murphy, a big Makerspace push will be made this fall.
Barbara Mitchell, an Education Technology Specialist (Video) who is part of the Centre for Integrated Teaching Experiences has also helped with this year’s Makerspace sessions.
Like the whole idea for Makerspace where everyone has a different reason for going and a different level of knowledge they want to gain, Murphy, Payne and Lanz each has what they would consider their hope of what they would consider a level of success for this year's Makerspace.
“Just hope people would come forward with their thoughts and ideas and share it with people,” explains Murphy adding there's no timeline for how long they will give it to be a success. It's difficult to measure the sharing of knowledge.
Lanz hopes to see a lot of people take in the different events.
“We want to reach capacity and hitting the capacity of the Makerspace area and elsewhere (in the Library).
“We also want more people with technology background to come.”
Payne says there is an open invitation for people to come and just wants some awareness out there, something that Murphy reiterates.
“The general public is welcome, they don't have to be a part of the Medicine Hat College,” adds Murphy. “It's free and they don't have to have a library card to the (Vera Bracken Library). But, if they want one, that would be great.”

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Ryan Dahlman

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