Learning Commons Graduate Assistant Dominican University
Makerspaces struggled to recruit a diverse audience despite being poised to “democratize” access to technology. Makerspaces tend to specialize in STEM, primarily appealing to white middle-class men. This creates barriers that are both explicit and invisible, undermining equity in makerspaces and leading to the exclusion of underrepresented groups. This runs contrary to “democratizing” access to technology, one of the founding ideals of makerspaces.
The WeatherTech Innovation Lab is a recent addition to the Rebecca Crown Library of Dominican University. Given that Dominican is Chicago’s premiere Hispanic-Serving Institution that serves an undergraduate student body approximately 70% Hispanic-identifying, cultural competency and responsiveness are a critical focus of all programs and services when developing the Innovation Lab. Being a highly diverse campus does not inherently mean diverse students will come to a technological space. We have been actively addressing stigmas and stereotypes to counteract and bridge the digital divide.
We are strengthening equity by implementing peer-to-peer learning between students and student workers, gathering and implementing community feedback, offering a variety of interdisciplinary programs, and providing equitable access through free services, materials, and resources in the Innovation Lab.
This poster will analyze how the WeatherTech Innovation Lab has been able to address the equity divide through a cultural and diversity lens and address what barriers we have overcome in the process. The integration of culturally competent and responsive practices in a makerspace has resulted in strengthening student learning outcomes through a multicultural approach to technology and/or maker literacy.