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“Education in Disguise”: Culture of a Hacker and Maker Space

  • Author(s): Schrock, Andrew Richard
  • et al.
Abstract

Hacker and maker spaces (HMSs) are open-access workshops devoted to creative and technical work. Their growing numbers (over 500 worldwide) make them a significant grassroots movement supporting informal learning. Scholars have found pedagogical benefits of tinkering and hacking, but the cultural contexts from which these practices arise remain under-studied. How do members of hacker and maker spaces bring about personalized and collaborative learning? In-depth interviews were conducted between October 2011 and March 2012 with members of GeekSpace, a North American HMS. Findings suggest that the pragmatic attitude present in other hacker cultures served a similar uniting function in this space. Specifically, members encouraged learning and collaboration predominantly through a belief in materialities, particularly as GeekSpace's collective identity shifted from hacker to maker. Members altered the space to serve individual and collective goals rather than employing deliberation or strong organizational methods. Initially the group approached learning through lectures and solo problem-solving, which gave way to learning through hands-on work and peripheral participation on projects. Future avenues of research on HMSs include patterning across different sites, organizational practices and factors that inhibit participation. This article draws on interviews with HMS members to discuss how the spread of hacking and making has led to members forming loose organizations focused on informal learning and peer production.

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