Archive by Author

Community-based DBR: A Few Linguering Questions

As we are wrapping up an exciting 2 weeks filled with vibrant discussions around community-based research  as well as participatory approaches in design-based research, we created a collection of questions that could perhaps provide others interested in similar work with starting points for inspirational insights.

  • What are the kinds of academic contributions participatory research can make? Ask new questions? 
  • Megan Bang mentioned that it is important to make academia more transparent to participants and to provide them with access to the academic infrastructure and tools. How does this relate to your work?
  • What is the value researchers can they offer to communities?
  • Nancy Erbstein’s challenges of working with youth-led research included that decision makers questioned small sample sizes of the youth's work. Nancy recommended mixed methods. How does this relate to opening or closing participation? What do you recommend?
  • As part of her list of sensibilities of community based partnerships, Magen Bang noted the need for  research to engage in strategic transformation of institutional relations. How important is this question for your work?
  • For Phillip Bell, his theoretical approach informed the way participation infrastructure was framed and how DBR played out. How has this been for you and what would you recommend?
  • Is participation and research+practice partnerships part of your larger research trajectory? What would you recommend others to practice who would want to build their career in this area of work?
  • We frequently heard of projects that started with a 3 year trajectory and then continued and continued and continued. How do you consider sustaining engagement in your project planning? What are the tools and techniques you use? What tells you that you are right in continuing to seek funding for a work?
  • Phil Bell and Julian Sefton-Green pointed out the need to be embedded and personally invested in the community one asks to collaborate with. Do we need to put ourselves in harms way to do good work?


The MILL: A Makerspace for Pre-Service Teachers at Indiana University

With Indiana’s pre-service teacher applications in decline and makerspaces on the rise, there is a need for the IU School of Education to update their approaches to attract and prepare a new generation of teachers for the kinds of challenges they may face in their career. At the same time, makerspaces need educators that come into the spaces with ideas for facilitating holistic and diverse making based on educational theories and practices learned at their university. 

Makerspaces in higher education institutions make it possible for pre-service teachers to use the kinds of tools and materials that can regularly be found in makerspaces but have not been traditionally integrated in learning spaces like classrooms and pre-school but are more frequently being integrated in formal and informal learning spaces, such as libraries, museums and schools. Pre-service teachers can try out making models with 3d printers, craft projects with the laser cutter, assemble electronic circuits, or simply design and prototype with common materials like cardboard or legos. By exploring the materials and tools and letting the material guide their ideas for learning opportunities and educational adventures, pre-service teachers can practice those skills that are in demand in makerspaces that all too often do not have curricular based on educational theory. These explorations can support teachers in taking back charge of the design of learning.

During the 2014-2015 school year, Dr. Kylie Peppler led an interdisciplinary faculty committee within the School of Education at Indiana University that began an initiative to design and build a makerspace in the School of Education.  A space suitable for innovating, collaborating, creating, prototyping, learning and general making. The result will be the MILL (Make Innovate Learn Lab) and renovations are set to happen this summer 2015. We are beyond excited about having the new space!

 As the We had the opportunity to tag-along, observe, and participate. In relation to the DML commons unit of co-design and collaboration in DBR, we think this is an interesting example of how interdisciplinary collaboration and pushing of institutional boundaries happened in a shared effort to setting the foundation for making the vision a reality. We outline here key decisions and practices we observed that seemed to have been instrumental for co-constructing a coherent narrative vision for and around the space and for laying the infrastructure for the successful continuation of this collaborative endeavor.

MILL Space Committee includes representatives from Science Ed, Art Ed, Instructional Systems Technology, Learning Sciences, the Office of Instructional Consulting, Education Technology Services & other School of Education departments. This collaborative committee effort underlined the message for the makerspace to serve the needs of several departments in the IU School of Education. The primary objective of the committee is to extend collaboration across school departments and to enrich the vision for the space from diverse educational perspectives coming from students and faculty. A large part of the committee conversations centered around the makerspace as a place to make stuff AND to represent a starting point for shifting the culture in the IU School of Education. In particular, the idea was to encourage thinking about challenges and design opportunities while making and engaging with material prototypes. While the makerspace is primarily aimed at the students, staff and faculty of the IU School of Education, the committee frequently thinking about how the space can extend the reach of collaboration to community partners and local K-12 schools.

The MILL: A Makerspace for Pre-Service Teachers at Indiana University

A cardboard prototype of portable and transparent storage that can slide under a counter

Creativity Labs research team (lead by Dr. Kylie Peppler) gave input into the design of the space. Opportunities to brainstorm and ideate various aspects of the physical space occurred during a graduate level apprenticeship course that also included an excursion to a new Teen Media Space in the Monroe County Public Library, that is designed based on a connected learning model. Many of the suggestions and ideas of the graduate students made it into the blue prints of the makerspace, and will be included in the construction that is planned to start this summer. The features that graduate students contributes include open and transparent storage opportunities and the need for mobile and reconfigurable furniture to expand accessibility. Much of the labs work this year focused on properties of materials. The need for open and inviting storage options to clearly see materials was a key factor in the design.

The MILL: A Makerspace for Pre-Service Teachers at Indiana University

Examples of portable and transparent storage for easy access to materials

The paper prototype above shows the layout of the space that is planned to combine two smaller rooms into one longer space. The prototype helped mediate the furniture selection and configuration process. It also represents a key design features of the space that was milled over by the Creativity Labs team to further substantiate transparency: one entire wall will be glass. Clear and see-through storage can be pushed against the glass, affording passers-by to see materials at a glance, encouraging and calling them to enter.

Architects, Interior designers, Electricians, Representatives of deans council, SOE donors and more – Some additional aspects of collaboration that occurred throughout the design of the space was the involvement of many other stakeholders in and out of the School of Education. University architects, interior designers, electricians, etc. were regularly met with to plan and design the space and the unique furniture needs for the space. Representatives of the IU School of Education Deans council were brought in early to discuss the possibility of faculty research grants for the makerspace. Additionally, potential donors for the School of Education were contacted about sponsorship and future funding for the space. The amount of collaboration among a wide variety of people was essential in spreading the vision for the space and ensuring its future success.

If you want to learn more about Makerspaces in Schools of Education visit the websites of

Please let us know of any other makerspaces in Schools of Education you might have heard of!

Anna Keune & Justin Whiting

How are you engaging with DML Commons? Share your stories!

In makerspaces, the sheer array of tools and materials available can inspire imaginative wondering about making of so many possible projects. Some makers may find it challenging to dive in and to commit to a project, knowing that this means that it may be impossible to make everything one dreamed up.

During the first week of the DMLCommons, we noticed that the new distributed online course format relies quite a bit on savvy use of social media tools and a certain level of confidence and comfort with the feeling of not being able to catch it all. At the same time, the Professional Pathways and the Design-Based Research strand are mainly aimed towards graduate students who are often highly ambitious people and frequently approach coursework by doing everything and more.

The wonderful responsiveness of the DML Hub and the growing DML Commons community as well as the Blog Talk Garage sessions are two very helpful ways for increasing comfort with only joining parts of the course offering. They are confidence boosters, encouraging participants to find and follow their own path of engaging with the courses.

We think that another way to lower the learning curve and ease people into embracing the distributed and loosely connected structure of the DML Commons would be to share engagement stories and experiences. 

How have you been engaging with the course? What sessions are you planning on joining? What challenges have you had (technical and learning practice)? What do you like about the course? What would you encourage others to try?

It would be wonderful to hear stories and experiences of how you engaged in the courses throughout. Please share them as comments directly underneath this post, or on Twitter using the DML Common hashtag (#DMLcommons). Sharing these stories can help others feel more comfortable and confident exploring their own ways of engaging. We are looking forward to hearing your ideas!

– Anna and Kylie

A Webniar Facilitation Model

As the DML Commons are kicking off strong with two live seminars on Tuesday, we would like to take a moment to highlight the fantastic work of the co-facilitators. The sessions were topically so informative and inspired a whole lot of thinking, connecting and sharing.

Another aspect that stood out to us was the smooth facilitation of both webinars. This made us wonder which practices junior scholars could adapt in their development of becoming a better public speakers in the webinar format. To show one way of successfully facilitating a webinar, we highlight the structure of the first Professional Pathways webinar “Getting Started: How to Fund, Launch, and Collaborate on a Research Project.” If you have other ideas, please leave comments!


  • Matt starts by welcoming people in the hangout and those viewing.
  • He summarizes the topics that will be addressed.
  • He introduces himself (name, affiliation, interest in topic) and calls on co-facilitators and participants.
  • Cassidy and Adar, the co-facilitators, introduce themselves next.
  • Lastly, Rena and Christo, the participants, introduce themselves.
  • Matt addresses the viewers and encourages them to join the Etherpad to chat, ask questions and add resources. He explains that questions will be turned to in the last minutes of the webinar.
  • Matt presents the webinar structure. This webinar was sectioned in three topics: Funding, Methods, and Collaboration. Each topic will be discussed for 15 minutes.

Topic 1: Funding

  • The conversation is initiated by Cassidy.
  • Adar recounts her experiences first.
  • Cassidy recalls her personal experience as a shift over to Christo
  • Christo contributes to the conversation.

Topic 2: Methods
  • Matt moves the conversation forward, making this action explicit, adding that this is done in the interest of time.
  • He gives an overview of the topic and explains his personal interests in the topic
  • Matt reminds viewers to add questions to the Etherpad and the Twitter channel, which gives speakers time to think about their contribution to the conversation.
  • Christo responds first
  • Matt reflects on Christo’s response and Christo takes the conversation further.
  • Adar contributes her reflection.

Short reflection of lessons learned
  • The group shortly pauses in their established structure, recalling the sticking points that the conversation brought out.
  • Matt, Cassidy, and Adar also share their ideas on the outcomes of the unit and preview the second live event of their unit.

Topic 3: Collaboration
  • Returning back to methods, Cassidy initiates a shift to collaboration.
  • Rena picks up the conversation.
  • Christo joins in

Last thoughts
  • Close to the hour, Cassidy and Adar share their last thoughts before the webinar closes.
  • Matt transitions to conclusion, by sharing his thoughts on the idea of DML Commons.
  • He previews the date and time of next week’s live event and shares the planned content for the event.
  • He mentions activities in between, asking viewers to share ideas, questions and possible road blocks on the Etherpad explaining how this may support next week’s session and serve the viewers in crowd-sourcing.

If you have ideas for how to make the DML Commons webinars even better, please add your comments below!

– Anna & Kylie