Thompson Rivers University

Co-op trials Makerspace for an innovative class

January 24, 2024

They say a journey begins with the first step. For Harshita Dhiman and Katelin Pietrusinski in Career and Experiential Learning, a journey to combine education and innovation for co-op students began with Makerspace.

TRU students who take co-operative education get experiential learning opportunities that involve alternating semesters of study with related professional experiences. They are required to take Co-op 1000, where they learn career management strategies to form correlations between their skill set and the professional work environment.

In the spirit of experiential learning, two co-ordinators within Career and Experiential Learning embarked on an exciting adventure that combined education and innovation for students in Co-op 1000. Harshita and Katelin  began with a visit to the Makerspace, where they explored the available tools and initiated discussions with Makerspace librarian Franklin Sayre about potential collaborations and submitting a grant application.

Last March, they received the funding to integrate the Makerspace as an experiential learning platform into their cross disciplinary Co-op 1000 classes. Part of the course curriculum is to teach students about networking skills. For this project, they asked students to use Makerspace tools to create products that they can use to network with people at events. For example, some students created buttons with their information on it, some students created digital business cards and some created phone cases with bar codes on it.

The project helped students cultivate transferable skills, including communication, team building, and problem-solving. Two research assistants who had experience with the Makerspace were hired to support the class instructors in bridging research and practical experience.

In the first class of the Winter 2023 semester, students toured and explored the Makerspace. They accessed the Makerspace tools to create a prototype networking product. In the final class of the semester, students showcased their products to their peers, Career and Experiential Learning department members and Franklin. To add fun and competition, the audience — including the students and guests — voted for the winning group project.

The students’ presentations focused on product description, networking use and the product creation process, all of which contributed to the development of their transferable skills. The presentations highlighted both the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary teamwork. Students showed their growth in their development of essential skills such as collaboration, leadership and their understanding of the value of experiential learning. The project left a lasting impression; those students who experienced the Makerspace intervention activities expressed gratitude for this unique opportunity.

This journey was about more than just a classroom project; it was a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation and experiential learning. Through this project and the support of the Makerspace, Harshita’s and Katelin’s classes integrated the practice of hands-on learning within their curriculum in an innovative way.


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