Research site development and dissemination of resources and information through three main initiatives: FabLearn Labs (formerly FabLab@School), FabLearn Conferences and FabLearn Fellows.

See fablearn.org


Paulo Blikstein


2010 – Current

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, popularly known as “making” 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.


The intellectual roots of FabLearn extend back to the work of Seymour Papert and his collaborators at the MIT Media Lab. Papert, a pioneer in the field of educational technologies, developed Logo, a programming language designed for children and 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.

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. Similarly, FabLearn supports spaces called FabLearn Labs that serve pre-college youth world-wide.


FabLearn advocates and supports constructionist learning experiences for all children.

These experiences should be:
– Integrated in formal K-12 education
– 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.


An integral part of the FabLearn program is foundational, rigorous learning sciences research.

A multi-disciplinary and international FabLearn research network collaborates to actively explore the practice of teaching and learning in makerspaces and fab labs and the processes underlying project-based, inquiry-driven education, especially in the STEM disciplines.

Led by Columbia’s Paulo Blikstein, associate professor at the Columbia University Teachers College, with international research collaborators at Chiang Mai University (Thailand), Aarhus University (Denmark), University of Helsinki (Finland), Copernicus Science Centre (Poland), and University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), with additional sites in Spain, Australia, Russia, and Mexico, researchers work together across several domains of research in education, human computer interaction, educational data mining, and multimodal learning analytics.


Learning Assessment:

  • Big data multimodal learning analytics tools for automated assessment in project based education
  • Research on cognitive and non-cognitive learning gains, spatial reasoning, self-efficacy, and social networks within makerspaces
  • Identification of intervention points through longitudinal research 
  • Multi-country comparative learning outcome studies


  • Tangible/Virtual interfaces for learning
  • Low cost robotics
  • Next generation biomaking tools


  • Design of the physical and virtual environments for constructionist learning

Instructional Methodologies: 

  • Inquiry and experimentation strategies
  • Interactive simulations vs. physical manipulative environments
  • Bifocal modeling for science teaching: reconciliation of discrepant events between physical experiments and virtual models
  • Order of instruction and preparation for future learning

Socio-Cultural Factors: 

  • Impact on under-resourced and under-privileged student populations
  • Gender issues in making
  • Identity and self-efficacy in makerspaces

Implementation Models: 

  • Proof of concept, school, district, state and national implementation models for public education