Researching interaction in a school-based makerspace: The meaning of social objects

Start:   Feb 6,   2019 05:00 PM
End:     Feb 6,   2019 06:30 PM

Location: Room 803, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL

This seminar focuses on the role of objects in teacher-student interaction in school-based makerspaces in Finland.

Makerspaces have recently attracted educational attention as sites of student-driven learning in which participants use traditional and digital artefacts, such as, 3D-printers, electronics and design apps in their engagement with personally meaningful projects. Professor Kumpulainen presents and analyses video data from her recent project ‘Learn­ing by Mak­ing: The edu­ca­tional po­ten­tial of school-based maker­spaces for young learners’ di­gital com­pet­en­cies (iMake), funded by the Academy of Finland.

Drawing on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, the Bakhtinian inspired notion of the “dialogic space” and material-discursive onto-epistemology, Professor Kumpulainen introduces the concept of social object to explain how material objects enable joint attention and meaning making in ongoing interaction. The discussion focuses on how material objects of a novel educational makerspace are enacted into social objects via joint attention about the objects, around the objects and with the objects. The research argues that social objects are important mediators of power and educational equity in the material-discursive spaces of joint attention between students and their teachers, inviting a renewed research focus on materiality.

Kristiina Kumpulainen, PhD, is Professor of Education and Vice-Dean for Research at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the University of Helsinki. She is a founding member and scientific director of the Playful Learning Center of the University of Helsinki. Her other current research project is the “Joy of Learning Multiliteracies” funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (2016-20). She is involved in a number of national and international educational research projects on makerspaces, digital literacies, creativity and young children’s multimodal practices.

The Visual and Multimodal Research Forum is a research hub for academic discussion on multimodality run by the UCL Centre for Multimodal Research. For information about future events visit:                                                                                     For any enquiries, please contact


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