[Maker’s News] Technology Accessibility- Maker Education in Rural Areas and Schools for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired

by Han-Ru Xie

With the implementation of 2019 School Curriculum in Taiwan, many schools have started to adopt science and technology to design multi-disciplinary courses that encourage students to learn more about Maker culture via hands-on activities. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds such as those with disabilities and special education needs as well as those in rural communities are the target groups that the government should focus on supporting to ensure that their development is not hindered.

Maker Dream Work Studio- Dream come true for students with special education needs

In recent years, Taichung Special School for the Students with Hearing Impairments has been developing courses centered on Maker culture. With subsidies from the Ministry of Education and resources on campus as well as the faculty, a Maker Dream Work Studio has been built. The studio features courses integrated with technology including 3D printing, laser engraving, laser cutting, and even programming languages. The new program not only promotes Maker education but also allows students to fulfill their dream to build something on their own. Li-jung Lin, the principal of the school, points out that the faculty have been trying to integrate technology into teaching in recent years, and the establishment of Maker Dream Work Studio is a big step forward for the promotion of Maker education. Hearing impaired students, either in middle or high school, can learn through hands-on practices via new technologies. They will be able to use programming languages for robotics and build a project using laser-cutting, and these are all great examples of upholding the spirit of Maker culture.

As the school has decided to incorporate Maker education into the curriculum, and Maker Dream Work Studio can serve as the venue for relevant courses from neighboring schools in the future. It is hoped that, in this way, Maker education can be extended to courses in middle school and even elementary schools to boost technology literacy of students of all levels.

Teachers and students from Taichung Special School for the Students with Hearing Impairments having fun in the Maker Dream Work Studio

Maker Van- Education into rural communities

To promote Maker education in rural communities in New Taipei City, Maker & Tech Education Center, a facility established in 2019, developed a van called “MakerMobile.” The van visits schools in rural areas where activities are held for teachers and students. The purpose is to allow people in rural communities to have resources, learning experience, and even opportunities as those in urban areas.

MakerMobile visits 14 elementary and middle schools to start courses with all kinds of technology and devices that include silent generators, laser engraving machines, 3D printers, 3D scanners, small process machines, teaching modules for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle), and devices for AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and MR (Mixed Reality).

With the assistance of MakerMobile, teachers in rural communities are able to integrate solutions and hands-on practices into classes using digital devices.

MakerMobile making its way into rural communities and bringing diverse learning experience to students

Conclusion

Due to the lack of resources, simply visiting a museum seems invaluable for students with special needs or those in rural areas. Fortunately, with the joint efforts of the government and schools, there is hope that the digital divide in education between urban and rural areas will be narrowed and bridged in the future.

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