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Workbench to Provide Maryland Public Libraries with Its Virtual Maker Space

Baltimore, MD – Jan. 9, 2017 – Edtech company Workbench and Maryland’s network of public libraries have partnered to launch an online maker space for libraries throughout the state. Libraries are increasingly becoming hubs for the maker movement – providing virtual and augmented reality tools, programmable robots and drones, computer labs and collaboration spaces for students and adults to create, learn and teach. This partnership uses Workbench’s platform to expand these communities online.

“The role of libraries has changed. They are no longer solely facilities for lending and borrowing books,” said Liz Sundermann-Zinger, project lead on behalf of Maryland libraries. “They are dynamic spaces where the community can connect, engage, learn and teach using technologies that build excitement and expand opportunities. Our partnership with Workbench will allow us to engage even more people in this work by offering an online community for people who like to create, while building a statewide foundation of technology literacy.”

The Maryland Libraries maker space provides access to activities and lessons, and lets users discuss and share projects and upload their own ideas. Combined with the libraries’ growing collections of maker technology and tools, this online maker space will build mastery and foster creativity and innovation for beginners and experts. It will also serve as a hub for educators seeking innovative technology curricula.

The partnership is part of Workbench’s ongoing work to connect students, educators, makers and edtech companies.  Workbench provides access to hands-on, project-based learning that turns students into makers and helps educators teach with anything.

“Libraries are quickly becoming ground zero for innovation,” said Chris Sleat, CEO of Workbench. “Our platform expands opportunities for making and project-based learning and we are thrilled our first library maker space is from our home state of Maryland.”

Workbench partners with industry leaders such as Sphero, Parrot, and Makey Makey to create online communities or “workbenches” where educators, students and fans can access and share free lessons using drones, programmable robots, 3D printers and other cutting-edge technology. Teachers use the workbenches to assign STEM lessons and track student progress. For an example of a Workbench community, visit http://sprk.sphero.com/.

Across the state of Maryland, over 200 Maryland public libraries make materials and technology available to Maryland’s residents, 3.7 million of whom hold library cards. Funding for this project is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

About Workbench

Workbench’s mission is to partner with ed-tech hardware companies to create online learning communities called workbenches.  These workbenches foster an engaged community where users can interact with the company and with one another to share programs, lessons and experiences in order to drive interactive, hands-on learning in the classroom. In addition, the fully integrated and custom learning management system within Workbench allows teachers to assign lessons and monitor student progress.  

Workbench has partnered with some of the preeminent names in the education technology field including Sphero and SparkFun Electronics.  For more information, visit www.workbenchplatform.com.

About Maryland’s Public Libraries

In Maryland, there are twenty-four public library systems, one in each county and Baltimore City, with a combined collection of over 18 million items. Maryland residents may register with and borrow materials from any public library in the State, and library programs and classes are free and open to all. Over 3.7 million Marylanders, about 63% of the state population, hold library cards. The public checked out almost 59 million items in FY2015. Of these, approximately 36.3 million were items for adults, and some 22.6 million were children's materials. For more information about statewide Maryland public library technology education initiatives, contact Liz Sundermann-Zinger lissa.sundermann@maryland.gov.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission has been to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. For the past 20 years, their grant making, policy development, and research has helped libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov. 

Classification: 
Teaching & Learning
Technology