Encouraging Inclusion in the Maker Classroom


Gonna move this over to @Vero’s topic aboutteam work.

Hi. My students are embarking on designing and hosting an end-of-semester event. The problem is, I have some students that are very outspoken and others who don’t speak up at all. I want to increase the chances of everyone having a voice in this event planning process so before we got to planning, we had a discussion about WHY inclusion is important and HOW to nurture it. The students (undergrads in this case) were pretty clear on WHY it’s important but were much more abstract when talking about the HOW.

Anyways, this got me to wondering about WHY and HOW you all encourage inclusiveness in your classroom. Please share your insights here.



Thanks for sharing these. I sit on the Culture and Inclusion Committee at Nation of Makers. May I pass these along?


Yes, of course.


In that case, I have a lit review from a project I have been working on. Called ‘Future Together’.

Sorry for the lack of preview. This is a project link to the lit review, here.

This link is live now though will not be maintained long.


Brilliant question!
The HOW part is a challenge in so many fields…
What I found helpful is to do some small group activities in class. This enables the more shy students to speak in a smaller group that is hopefully less intimidating than the whole class.
You can perhaps think of presenting them with different scenarios where people are NOT included (someone dominates most of the time, someone remarks something less than nice or in a confrontational way, someone is shy…) and try to let them come up with suggestions how to solve it.
I generally find working with examples helpful. It takes some of the personal edge away and enables to look at an issue more neutrally,
Also, one of the key elements of inclusiveness is being able to listen as well as being able to discuss the issue and not the person who talks.


I was sometimes a shy student myself. And only when nobody else in the group would be able to or care to speak, would I speak. I can say this one idea to support shy students from my perspective as a ‘sometimes shy’ student; which I feel most shy students who are great learners think themselves to be. The event would obviously involve dividing the class into group to do certain tasks. I would suggest the following group division.
Those shy students that are interested in participating- make them into groups of one, and assign the duties appreciating the fact that they are just one member of that group. If there is nobody else that will speak before they speak, they will have to speak. Since, they do the work by themselves, they would feel confident and empowered to share their voice in ‘unaltered voice’ which I think can be really helpful in developing confidence. They take full responsibility of the duty and explaining their work.
Those shy students that are not as much interested in participating-put them together into a group of 2 or 3 of other such students. Everybody can not remain shy, so someone has to talk. Since they might be a bit hesitant at first they will require their friends’ support. And if the friends are willing to support, everybody tries to contribute something.
This idea could be really de motivating, if the case is a competition; that could really hurt the shy students. But in case if a collaborative idea, this could be helpful.

Again, this is my perspective as a student. I hope this will quickly remind you one possible factor to look out for while planning your ideas as a teacher.

Thank You very much!
Excited about learning!


Thanks for sharing your thoughtful perspective here. I appreciate it.



Though, I can only speak from my perspective. Informed by experience. My thoughts are that diversity and inclusion begins with the pronouns we use: WE, US, OUR

I am most disturbed with a lack of including disabilities. Most focus ‘inclusion’ on a few metrics based on location, race, gender and sex. Many to not even recognize disability as a class of people to include. People with a mental disability (mood disorder, etc. ) have access to no disability accommodation. Yet, 1 in 5 of US will get a mental illness this year.

For example, when applying to the Media Lab MAS program there is no recognition of disability status. Research heads do not return email. And the SOS Program lacks a response. Only focused on location, race, gender and sex.

I counsel others to speak inclusively and avoid divisiveness. That is Diversity.


agreed. Especially since grades seems to be a one size fits all.

When I was teaching in Saudi, I observed something interesting. We had to teach boys separate from the girls. In this instance, the boys gravitated to one part of the curriculum (the building part) while the girls gravitated to and excelled at another part of it (problem and solution definition). I didn’t have to grade them, but if I did I would have liked to have given both good grades even though they learned different things.


I hate it that there is so much tabu around mental illness. If I ruled the world, I’d flip that. If you manage mental illness, this should be something to brag about on a resume. Like I spent two years in couples counseling and came through a much better person. I’d love to add that to my resume. That was some hard work!


Was a portfolio part of the grading?


There was no grading. Why do you ask


I have attended the School of Visual Arts, Columbus Community College and the Ohio State University. Averaging puts my GPA precariously close to the grad schools 3.0 cut off: 3.01. There is a chance that I cannot attend OSU based on GPAs I was given while a person with an undiagnosed disability.

What is unique is that Design Programs have a portfolio component. And, yet you cannot put the portfolio before the GPA. When it is the work itself.


The institutionalization of learning has partitioned learning to actuarial time. Away from the cultivation of an individuals body of knowledge as they go through life. I just wonder how we are able to tackle pressing issues of our time, without the brain power of everyone. The U.S. educational system will not continue the learning of all. Limiting the potential of us to progress as a whole society.