We designed and conducted a series of maker workshops, MakeShops, to explore the possibilities of the maker approach in an experiential learning setting. We developed outreach and advertising materials, and an intake mechanism to receive applications from interested students. The workshops were offered as an extra-curricular activity (which would not result in additional academic credit). We applied for and received financial support for the workshop from the Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) initiative, a special project that was launched in 2013 by the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University in Toronto. The venue for the workshop was the GaMaY research lab, which is a dedicated space for the research activities led by two faculty members and their graduate students in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Due to the competing needs of multiple other projects, the lab space could only be used one day a week and all workshop materials would be stowed away in the interim. Of more than 30 applications, we accepted 10 undergraduate engineering student participants into the workshop, representing all levels of study (first-year to final-year). The workshop consisted of 10 3 h sessions, which took place every weekend over a 10 week-period. The first author (referred to as the workshop facilitator in the rest of the paper) facilitated the sessions.
In the first workshop meeting, we presented the participants with an overview of maker and DIY approaches, including a discussion of the tools and techniques available and a presentation of a series of maker projects curated for their creativity and thoughtfulness including, among others, the Banana Piano , Botanicalls  and 3D printed prosthetics . This introduction was crucial, given our group of learners, who were engineering students. The participants were familiar with engineering design and requirements-based problem solving, and were not attuned to a mode of practice that is not centrally concerned with ‘solving’ a problem but rather is focused on creative expression, inventiveness, and exploration. The second session took the form of a “field trip”, and was a visit to the Toronto Mini Maker Faire. In this session, the participants interacted with many example maker projects and met and spoke with local makers. In the third session, the participants divided into smaller teams (five teams of two members each) and undertook brainstorming sessions, which culminated in a project proposal (including budgets) for each team. These proposals were shared with fellow participants, who then provided critique and feedback. Once the project proposals were refined and approved by the workshop facilitator, the participants received material needed for their projects and started working on them. For sessions four onwards, project teams would discuss the work completed, the current state of their projects, and what they planned to accomplish in the next week. During these sessions, participants were encouraged to provide constructive feedback and help to one another. Additionally, a listing of student design competitions and showcases was created and shared with the participants, and each team was encouraged to submit their projects.
At the end of the workshops, in a collective brainstorming session, the participants discussed the learning and challenges around their projects and described steps forward. Additionally, the participants provided feedback about the workshops in a survey. Finally, we conducted free form interviews with eight of the participants, six months following the workshops to assess the efficacy and retention of the material learned during their projects.
In the rest of this section, we discuss our approach to the design and facilitation of the workshops.
2.1 Creating a Maker Atelier
The concept of “artist atelier”—as a shared work space in which novice artists work under the supervision of a master artist—has been a central notion in the artistic traditions of Western Europe . When designing the workshops, we were inspired by this concept and incorporated elements of it in the instruction design. The following are some of the ideas we incorporated into the workshops:
Facilitation Rather than Teaching: In accord with recent research that shows great potential in self-directed and project-based learning [3, 4] the majority of the participants’ time at the workshops were dedicated to the discussion and implementation of projects that they designed and conducted themselves. The workshop facilitator adopted an experienced maker role rather than an instructor. This role entails facilitation of collaboration and creativity through the creation of an atmosphere of trust and goodwill, where constructive feedback can be generated and exchanged between the participants. The workshop facilitator drew on his previous knowledge of existing maker projects, as well as hands-on previous experience with making to curate relevant and inspiring examples and ideas from the research literature and maker community. Another important role for the workshop facilitator was to provide structure (e.g., in terms of time and budget) on the projects, this was crucial so that the projects would be logistical constrained and feasible. As well, the set of constraints often fostered creativity in the participants; the importance of constraints is previously recognized, as they can structure creativity without being stifling .
The Use of Horizontal Teaching and Peer Support: During the workshops, the workshop facilitator also initiated and conducted a project with the same time and budget constraints as the participant projects. By doing so, he was also participating in the workshops directly by discussing and researching a project himself, asking for feedback and support from the other workshop participants. He purposely chose a project (i.e., wearable computing) in which he had a genuine interest, in order to engage in a genuine learning process at the same time with the other workshop participants. This approach helped foster a more horizontal teaching approach where participants engaged in more dialogue with the workshop facilitator and each other.
2.2 Making and Reflection
In recent years, the importance of exercising reflection and critical thinking when making is emphasized [6 , 14, 15]. Reflection is a rather broad term; here we focus on value-oriented reflection, contextualization, and life-cycle thinking. Researchers have argued that maker methods have the potential to address social and economical problems if engaged with purposefully . Value-sensitive design approaches, in combination with maker methods, provide a means to realize this potential. These approaches include Reflective Design  and Thoughtful Interaction Design , which emphasize the examination of unconscious values hidden in design decisions, and encourage the identification of side effects of a realized design, both positive and negative. In the workshops, we explicitly provisioned for the activity of reflection across multiple sessions, in which the participants considered and discussed the social, ethical and political implications of their projects. We strongly believed that the aim of the workshop should go beyond making projects that were merely “cool.”
Reflection also includes contextualization, which requires knowledge and analysis of prior relevant work. For this, we pointed the teams to the research literature, and assisted them by recommending specific readings, both in terms of prior relevant projects and also in terms of relevant methodologies and theoretical approaches. For instance, we encouraged the team engaged in the Magic Wand project (described later), to read certain papers on tangible interfaces and embodied cognition.
Another aspect of design that we explicitly asked our participants to consider was to plan for the entire cycle of design, from ideation to deployment and disposal. For each project, the participants were required to come up with a detailed budget, to source their components by researching and investigating potential vendors and outlets, and to identify cost-benefit tradeoffs in their design. Additionally, they had to describe next steps for their project and investigate potential ways to turn their prototypes into products. This included a discussion of alternative deployment strategies, such as the open-source and creative commons approaches. Finally, they had to consider the recycling and reuse potential of their designs. Previous research has emphasized the importance of exploring these issues in maker initiatives .
2.3 Community Collaboration
An attractive and essential characteristic of the maker movement is the vibrant and diverse community of makers who are connected through a shared interest in creativity, inventiveness and the sharing of knowledge. This worldwide community is connected both through face-to-face meetings and events, such as various Maker Faires, and in online forums and virtual spaces, such as special interest Facebook groups, forums, etc. In the workshop sessions, we encouraged participants to get in contact with other makers and also to present their projects at maker events and design competitions. To support this goal, we organized a field trip to a local maker faire and introduced some of our maker community contacts to the participants.
As Dale Dougherty, the founder of both Make Magazine and Maker Faire, noted in a 2014 panel , a key motivation for makers is “to interact with other people” and have an audience that shares their interest in creativity and hands-on skills. This element of performance is apparent in the enthusiasm and range of presentation techniques manifest at Maker Faires worldwide. We built in possibilities for performance into the workshop via the weekly presentations, which required the teams to present their projects to one another every week. This provided a chance for them to get feedback and additionally acquire experience in presenting their ideas in a supportive environment.