Get ready for ISTELive 21! Launch the site now.
Edtech Solutions
Network Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Technology-Rich Innovation Spaces: Powerful Learning for K-12 Students

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Monday, November 30, 12:00–1:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Dr. Donna Knoell  
Discover the importance of implementing technology-rich K-12 innovation and exploration spaces, expanding beyond “making," to creating and inventing. We'll share criteria and recommendations for what to include, and how to use these spaces to maximize technology integration, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and personalized learning.

Audience: Teachers, Principals/head teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Innovative learning environments
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
Related exhibitors:
AI World School
, STEMfinity
, Vernier Software & Technology
, Pitsco Education

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Once the concept of “Makerspaces” began taking hold a couple years ago, schools everywhere joined the bandwagon so they could say they also had a Makerspace. Yet, many schools still lack a clear vision of what the intent or purpose of those spaces should be. And in many cases, these spaces have turned into Art, Craft and Making Places, with as many or more art supplies as technology and electronics supplies. This perspective is totally out of focus for what the needs of today’s students are, and educators need to re-focus, to get this valuable “school real estate” in line with the technology and learning needs of 21st Century students.

In this presentation, the speaker will share a clear vision of what schools should create, with a focus on creating and implementing Innovation Spaces and Exploration Labs…that may include, but are not limited to the concept of “Making”. She will discuss the important components and considerations that educators must embrace to make these student-centered, immersive learning environments effective, and to maximize their potential for all diverse students.

The speaker will help participants embrace the concept of ‘inventing” and “creating” rather than limiting students’ efforts to “making”, so that students can truly develop their own products and models rather than building, replicating, or copying a commercial model. She will also discuss the importance of designing these spaces to facilitate collaboration and communication among learners, and designing them with sufficient space to make original artifacts to document learning, and to provide sufficient space for students to analyze and evaluate the performance of robots and other models, and to enable students to re-design or alter models to test out science and engineering concepts.

The speaker will share criteria and recommendations for what to include in these technology-rich spaces, and how to utilize these spaces to maximize technology integration, including video and audio generation tools, and tools for graphic production and editing. She will also emphasize the importance of including data collection tools, to help students use these spaces across disciplines. She will also emphasize the importance of including learning resources with multiple reading levels and resources in a variety of formats, (text, visual, video, and virtual reality) to differentiate learning opportunities and learning styles of all diverse students.

The speaker will help participants embrace the importance of using technology-rich Innovation Spaces and Exploration Labs to engage diverse students and to provide all students with opportunities to pursue inquiry with topics of interest to them. She will also discuss ways to fund these important learning environments, the necessity of equitable and accessible scheduling of these spaces, consideration of where in a school these spaces should be located, and how to measure their effectiveness.

The speaker will provide a clear vision of what effective Innovation Spaces and Exploration Labs should be and the potential they offer for increasing student learning and enhancing and intensifying student engagement, helping participants embrace the importance of creating student-centered learning environments that include “making”, but creating them to be far more than places to assemble and build. Rather, these learning spaces must be places where students can utilize innovative technology and apply rich concepts to real world problem solving, places to collaborate, communicate, and use critical thinking, to create and invent, pursue topics of interest to students, and places that ignite a love of learning and engagement for all 21st Century students.

Purpose and Objectives:

The purpose of this proposed session is to help participants embrace a vision for creating an effective Innovation and Exploration Space, an effective, student-centered, technology-rich learning environment that includes “making”, but is not limited to “making and constructing”. Designing, inventing, evaluating, critical thinking, collaboration, and integration of graphic, audio and video generation tools will all be rich and essential components of these important learning spaces.

As a result of the presentation:

1. Participants will learn about and recognize the importance of re-focusing their vision for creating effective, immersive, technology-rich learning spaces, moving away from a limited “maker” space concept, and expanding their vision to include creating, designing, exploring, and inventing. Participants will learn how to implement Innovation and Exploration Spaces, to develop student-centered, technology-rich learning spaces where resources in a variety of formats, at varying levels of difficulty, and where age-appropriate technology tools come together so students can analyze, design, invent, and “make’ products, models, robots, and pursue topics of interest.

2. Participants will learn how to utilize rich technology tools to facilitate student learning, to collaborate with peers, to communicate what they have learned, and to ‘unlock’ learning pathways and expand and incorporate higher order applications of technology, to ignite a love of learning for all students and launch students into a successful path for College and Career Readiness.

3. Participants will learn criteria for what resources and technology tools to include in effective Innovation and Exploration Spaces, how to assure equitable and accessible scheduling of these spaces, where to best locate these spaces within a school, and how to maximize their use to advance learning and engagement for every student.

4. Participants will learn how to differentiate learning opportunities for students of varying abilities, interests, and experience, and they will learn ways to engage diverse students, including age-appropriate real-world problem solving challenges and development of essential 21st Century Skills, using rich technology resources.


I. Introduction and background information to support the creation and implementation of Innovation and Exploration Spaces – helping participants re-focus, to include, but greatly expand from the prevalent and more limited concept of “making” and constructing.
10 minutes

II. Creating a clear vision and establishing goals and objectives, to create effective technology-rich, student-centered learning environments where “inventing”, analyzing, evaluating, and independent inquiry will thrive.
10 minutes

III. Criteria and recommendations for what to include in Innovation and Exploration Spaces, how to best schedule these spaces, and consideration of where best to locate these spaces within a school, (to enable educators to reach their goals and objectives).
15 minutes

IV. Engaging diverse learners and assuring equitable and accessible opportunities for all diverse learners. (Successful school implementations will be shared.)
15 minutes

V. Questions and Answers and Wrap Up
10 minutes

Supporting research

“Create a Makerspace for Your School in 5 Easy Steps.” Concordia University – Portland Blog. July 14, 2018.

“Create a School Makerspace in 3 Simple Steps.” ISTE Blog. August 1, 2019. Nicole Krueger.

“Create Some Space for Ideation Sessions and Design Thinking.” Rikke Dan and Teo Siang.

Design for the Changing Educational Landscape: Space, Place and the Future of Learning. Andrew Harrison and Les Hutton. London: Routledge, 2014.

“Driving Second Order Change with Technology.” Education Technology Insights. Doug Johnson.

“Educational Change in a Technology-Rich Environment.” Journal of Research on Computing in Education. February 25, 2014. Margaret Riel.

“Ed-Tech Supporters Promise Innovations That Can Transform.” Education Week, April 23, 2015.

“How to Help Kids Innovate From an Early Age.” Digital Promise. July 27, 2018.

“How Makerspaces in Schools Help Students Learn to Code.” Ed Tech Magazine. September 28, 2018. Eli Zimmerman.

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Martinez, Sylvia Libow and Gary Stager. 2016.

“It’s Time to Remake the Makerspace, But Schools Shouldn’t Go It Alone.” Ed Surge. June 13, 2019. Jessica Hickey.

“Making and Makerspaces in Education: Resources for Innovative Learning.” Jessica Parker and Stephanie Chang.

Making Schools Different: Alternative Approaches to Educating Young People. Kitty te Riele, Editor. SAGE Publishing, Los Angeles, 2009.

Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education Through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge. Toru Liyoshi and M.S. Vijay Kumar; MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2008.

Ruben Puenedura – SAMR Model for Higher Order Applications of Technology.

“The Case for School Makerspaces, According to Those Who Use Them.” Erin Gohl.

“Why Makerspaces Are the Key to Innovation.” The TECH Edvocate. January 19, 2017. Matthew Lynch.

“Why Your School Needs a Makerspace.” School Leaders Now. June 12, 2018. John Spencer.

More [+]


Dr. Donna Knoell, Educational Consulting

People also viewed

BEAT — New Coding Method for K-2
ISTE Author Q&A and Podcast: Surviving to Thriving Online
NASA Aeronautics and Technology: Hands-On, Real-World Projects