Syllabus 2016

Of Your Own Making: The DIY/Maker Movement
Spring 2016 . F period . Academic Commons — the Makerspace

Course description:

The availability of affordable digital media creation tools like Adobe PhotoShop; video editing software like FinalCut Express; and fabrication tools like 3D printers has made it possible for virtually anyone to learn to design and create.  These tools, combined with the connected nature of the Internet, has brought the maker movement into the mainstream.

This class is a hands-on introduction to some of the tools used by makers.  We’ll be playing with Makey Makeys, 3D modeling software and printers, e-textiles, Arduinos, digital media creation software, and more.  We’ll be learning how these tools work, how they can (or cannot) work together, and how they can be used to prototype inventions and products and create art.

This seminar is very much like a studio environment.  There won’t be many lectures.  The semester will involve a lot of hands-on playing and making.  You’ll have your hands on tools that you may have never seen or heard of before.  This can be exhilarating as well as intimidating and frustrating.  Some of your creations may not work or turn out like you envisioned.  That’s ok.  We’re practicing iterative design this spring.  We’ll constantly ask, “What can I change to make this better.”  Then we’ll make those changes.  “Accept that everything is a draft.”

Your own domain:

Community is an essential part of the maker lifestyle.  Makers share their failures, successes, and processes for making something.  Sharing your knowledge and insight helps people who come after you.

Each of you will create your own domain through the Reclaim Hosting project, a project of Jim Groom and Tim Owens, technologists at the University of Mary Washington.  You’ll use your site to document your projects, your work, and your thinking.

Some advice:  make sure you are constantly snapping pictures of your projects throughout the design and build process.  Maybe make some quick notes as well.  We’ll have some class time after each project to write reflection pieces.

I support the decision to share your reflection pieces publicly on your web site.  However, we will be going through privacy options if you are more comfortable with limiting your audience.

Why our own self-hosted domain?

The theme of this course is the do-it-yourself/maker movement.  It makes sense to build and develop your own digital space rather than relying on third-party tools like Facebook, Instagram, and other web apps that change or die without your input.

You are in control of the digital space you’ll be using in this class.  You’ll use the space for documenting your work and reflection.  You can also use the space to experiment with coding and administering your own little slice of a server if you wish.

We’re providing a space and platform where people can learn how to code. Understanding conceptually how Web hosting works is an important skill in the 21st century.

— Jim Groom, Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at UMW

Student expectations:

Please help create a supportive, encouraging, creative, and collaborative culture.  You will be learning from each other, the internet, and other experts in the community.

Bring your curiosity.

Bring your creativity.

Bring your desire for whimsy.

Bring your passion for making a difference.


After each project, you are expected to reflect online about the process involved in making that project.  I’m specifically interested in: What worked?  What failed?  What went well?   What obstacles did you encounter?   What would you do differently?  What can make your thing better?  How did learning to make this thing make you feel?

Include images in your reflection pieces.  If you don’t take your own photos, you can find photos with a Creative Commons license at PhotoPin, by doing an advanced search at Flickr, or at Creative Commons.

Include video if you want.

Remember to tag all of your posts with seminar16.  This will allow your class-related blog posts to feed into the Makerawesome site.  I’ll explain this in class.

DIY/Maker Backpack:

Things you may want:

Arduino IDE — We’ll be working with Arduinos.  You can download the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment).

Inkscape — It’s free.  It’s open source.  It’s been described as the poor (wo)man’s Illustrator.

Dropbox account — Dropbox allows you to store files in the cloud (kind of like Google Drive).  It works well with a WordPress backup plugin that lets you upload copies of your WordPress database to Dropbox.  This is helpful should you plan to experiment with your digital space.

WordPress app for iOS/Droid — The WordPress app lets you easily post photos, video, text, etc. to your blog.  Highly recommended if you have a smartphone or iPod Touch.

Soundcloud account — You can easily record audio pieces and embed them into blog posts with Soundcloud.  A Soundcloud app for iOS and Droid are also available.

Tinkercad account — (I’ll send out an invitation to join the Collegiate account).  Tinkercad is an easy-to-use, web-based 3D modeling program.

Youtube — upload your own videos and easily embed those videos into your blog posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *