Librarian Sandra Anderson (left) and educational technology proponent Nicole Lakusta display one of the many maker technology kits that are now available for borrowing at the ATA library.
Maker technology now available for borrowing through the ATA library
If you have a hankering to let your students try their hands at building animatronic singing tiki birds but don’t know where to start, the Alberta Teachers’ Association library can hook you up.
That’s because the library now has an assortment of maker technology kits that teachers throughout the province can borrow free of charge.
Embraced by many teachers around the world, the maker movement involves learning by creating hands-on projects, often by combining technology like robotics, circuits and coding with crafting supplies like paper, cardboard, glue and tape.
“It’s all about creating and really playing with the low and high tech ... getting in there and doing some sandbox building,” said Nicole Lakusta, a teacher who is a member of the group Alberta Technology Leaders in Education (ATLE), which donated $2,500 so the ATA library could purchase the maker technology.
In her work as an educational technology facilitator with Parkland School Division, Lakusta is familiar with maker technology and its applicability to Alberta’s curriculum. She says maker projects are great for engaging students in creative learning that taps into their math and science skills, as well as verbal communication, teamwork, collaboration and troubleshooting.
“I can easily put this into any of the core courses and really connect with the current curriculum,” Lakusta says. “It certainly hits a lot of cross-curricular opportunities at any grade level.”
And teachers who aren’t overly tech savvy shouldn’t be scared off, she says, as each kit contains instructions and a combination of low- and high-tech items. In addition, each manufacturer has a website with projects and tutorials, and the library also has an assortment of books on the subject.
“I think any of the crates can easily be taken out by teachers who are new to this particular technology,” Lakusta says.
The library now has more than a dozen maker kits available for one-month loans.
Librarian Sandra Anderson sees the kits as a free way for teachers to test various technologies to see what works for them.
“The idea, when I originally wanted to get the technology, was to put it in the hands of teachers so they could try it out before they decided to purchase their own.” ❚
Library adds streaming video
Another new technological offering now available through the ATA library is a collection of professional development videos delivered via online streaming.
Video streaming is a service that some teachers have been asking about for a while, so librarian Sandra Anderson is pleased to have it available now.
“We’re looking to innovate and engage teachers through technology as much as we can because of the distance issue,” she said. “Sometimes, having to wait for a video to be mailed is a block to actually accessing that information, so we wanted to give instantaneous access to teachers.”
The library currently has a licence for 22 videos, a number that Anderson says will grow each year. The videos in the catalogue can be viewed by an unlimited number of viewers simultaneously, Anderson said.
The videos are available by logging on to the library’s website at library.teachers.ab.ca.