What is FabLearn?

FabLearn is a network, research collaborative, and vision of learning for the 21st century. FabLearn disseminates ideas, best practices and resources to support an international community of educators, researchers, and policy makers committed to integrating the principles of constructionist learning and maker education into formal and informal K-12 education.

FabLearn is based on the work of Columbia University Associate Professor Paulo Blikstein and the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL).  FabLearn develops research sites and disseminates resources and information through three main initiatives: FabLearn Labs (formerly FabLab@School), FabLearn Conferences and FabLearn Fellows.

Guiding Principles

FabLearn advocates and supports constructionist, equitable learning experiences for all children.

These experiences should be:
– Accessible to all students
– A force for inclusion and diversity
– Based on rigorous academic research
– Shared globally

Making and makerspaces are new terms for an old idea – that children learn best by fully engaging their heads, hearts, and hands. Modern technology allows schools, libraries, community organizations, and other learning spaces to offer experiences to children that are both intellectually rich and expressive.

Read more about our FabLearn Principles

Intellectual Roots

The intellectual roots of FabLearn extend back to the work of South-African mathematician and educator Seymour Papert, Swiss psychologist Edith Ackermann, and North-American scholar Mike Eisenberg, as well as their collaborators at the MIT Media Lab and beyond. Papert, a pioneer in the field of educational technologies, co-developed Logo, a programming language designed for children,  and inspired the LEGO robotics system. Papert’s “constructionist” perspective (a belief that children learn most effectively when they build artifacts and share with peers) is at the heart of FabLearn. Also at the core of FabLearn is the work of Paulo Freire, who advocates for education that is deeply respectful and aware of children’s culture and lived experiences. Freire was a pioneer in advocating how local culture and practices are crucial in learning.

The original FabLab was conceived in the Media Lab at MIT by Neil Gershenfeld (with collaboration of Bakhtiar Mitkak) as a creative space for university students, and was transplanted successfully to community centers and entrepreneurial hothouses around the globe. FabLearn Labs are the educational version of FabLabs and Makerspaces, serving pre-college youth worldwide. We believe that spaces for making in education should be designed differently than spaces for other goals and age groups, and we implement this vision in our projects and implementations around the world.