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In this paper, the researchers will investigate different ways in which school age, 'generation net' children learn, through non-linear, mediated, collaborative ‘making’ environments, enabled by online communities of ‘citizen practitioners' and maker groups. In addition to this, the study will investigate these learning methods in relation to children’s future attitudes to formal education and their engagement with open access digital fabrication facilities.
The research will draw upon primary sources including the observation and analysis of children who attend 3D printing clubs hosted by one of the authors. These clubs are aimed at children just starting their formal school education, from the age of six. The clubs are informal and relaxed to allow a great deal of creative freedom. They have access to 3D printers, CAD software and 3D printing pens to allow them to explore the technology and design process in different ways. They can choose to work together or alone, and can participate in the group discussion in an unforced way. This research will conclude by analysing the educational benefits of shared design practices and digital fabrication and how they could be unique tools in the hands of progressive educators in the learning spaces of the future.