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Power Up! Learning in a Hackerspace


Power Up! Learning in a Hackerspace

Megelas, Alex (2014) Power Up! Learning in a Hackerspace. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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This qualitative research project considers the acquisition of technological literacy in the lived, physical context of the Foulab hackerspace, a community of practice located in Montreal, Quebec.

Hackerspaces are an offshoot of hacker culture. They are physical sites (garages, lofts) where individuals who sometimes self-identify as hackers come together to share tools and knowledge, and collaborate on projects of a technological nature. As educational communities, hackerspaces are member-led and member-funded. Initiatives stemming from hackerspaces including computer programming, electrical design and small electronics projects.
Power Up! participants were six individuals, including the lead researcher, who all identified themselves as having experienced barriers to engaging with technology. The research objective was to see how (if) Foulab would contribute to participants overcoming their reluctances, successfully complete a project and in so doing, acquire mastery over the tools and knowledge required.
Participants were required to design and build a bicycle-powered electricity generator with the support of the Foulab membership, facilities and tools.

While the project was successfully completed, there were clashes between the lab and Power Up! project which prevented the project from being fully integrated into Foulab. The research project documents this and how, as a result, Power Up! grew into its own peer-based learning community.

Participants met at Foulab weekly for ten weeks. At the onset of the project, participants were asked to take part in a written reflection and a group conversation in order to consider their prior and current engagement with technology.

Participants then began to develop a methodology for working together that first saw them engage in research into the theoretical fundamentals of electrical conductivity and electrical project design. They then came up with a design for the bicycle-powered generator and gathered the tools and parts necessary to assemble it.
This process, and the participants' engagement with each other and with Foulab, was documented in field notes by the lead researcher. At the conclusion of the project, participants took part in a group discussion to reflect on the experience.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Megelas, Alex
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Studies
Date:July 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Waddington, David
Keywords:Hackers, Hackerspaces, Communities of practice, awesome, Etienne Wenger, Jeanne Lave
ID Code:978978
Deposited On:05 Nov 2014 20:23
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:48


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