Tips for Creating A Makerspace

Understand Your Users

Each school is unique and will require its own makerspace based on its students and community. It is important to start developing your makerspace by taking these users into consideration. Look at what gets your students excited and how can you transform their interests to foster new ideas. Take note of the varying age groups in the school and adjust areas of the makerspace to cater to the appropriate audience.


Consider the concerns and interests of the parents as well. They’re support is crucial to the success of a makerspace because of the role they have in their children’s education and the school’s decisions. Ask parents how they wish to see their children benefit from the makerspace in order to guide the development of the makerspace in the correct direction.


Ask the teachers; especially those whose teaching methods will be directly impacted by the implementation of a makerspace. Gain an understanding of the technology teachers are comfortable using and/or learning to use. In the early stages of implementing a makerspace, students will need to be instructed on how to properly and safely utilize the space. The greater the teacher involvement, the more enthusiastic they will be about training exercises and helping students succeed.

Consult the School

Before you decide what technology and tools you will include in the makerspace, one must understand the amount of funding their school can dedicate to this project. Depending on your school, it may be best to propose the idea with a list of potential technology to include in order to gain the support needed for funding. There may also be an opportunity to raise money for the makerspace through a fundraiser within the community.


Select the technology

The tools and technology for your school’s makerspace should be selected using the proposed budget and information gathered about its users. For younger students, it may be a good idea to start with building tools such as Legos, cardboard, wood, or even basic robot kits. Online applications such as Minecraft and Codemoji can be used to promote creativity and idea generation among students wishing to use electronics.


Older students may require more advanced technology to retain their interest and support their ideas. This does not mean that every makerspace must have a 3D printer. Technology best suited for older students includes but is not limited to: woodworking tools and machines, sewing machines, coding software, electrical supplies, robotics and virtual reality systems.


Unsure where to start with searching for technology? The article “What to Put in Your Makerspace (and How to Pay for It)” written by Teri Bauerly on EdSurge has great suggestions for a variety of students.


Prepare the Teachers

Perhaps the most important step is preparing the teachers that will be working with the makerspace. These individuals are so important because they will guide and assist students in bringing their ideas to life. First, the teachers must be trained to understand the different technology being used in order to effectively help students. Secondly, teachers must also be aware of how to properly help students without hindering their creativity. It can be difficult to balance the capabilities of the technology being used with the depths of a students creative mind. To help teachers master this balance ensure that they are well trained and prepared to work the students and technology in this environment. Be aware of teachers that may not be letting students take full advantage of the makerspace. In the same respect, teachers should understand the safety restrictions of the makerspace to ensure no student is at risk of injuring themselves or others.


Plan for the Future

The work does not stop after your makerspace is fully operational. There is always room for improvement because it is difficult to predict exactly how the users will respond. There may be an area of the space that proves to be more helpful to students. The school may want to consider investing more in this area of the space to ensure the technology is available to all of the students. On the other hand, areas that received a poor response should be analyzed to uncover a solution to its lack of success. As the makerspace is used more frequently it may also be necessary to develop a growth plan to ensure all students have the same opportunity to see their ideas come to life.

Increase digital presence

What is it?

Book Creator is a way for students and teachers to express their creativity through the creation of books. The application can be used both on Google Chrome as well as on the iPad. Using Book Creator, students and teachers are able to include and combine text, images, audio, and video, giving them endless opportunities to create something memorable. One of the best parts about Book Creator is that there is no limit to who can use it. The age of students ranges from kindergarten to college, which shows that Book Creator is easy to use for any age group.


How it Works

The Book Creator process is simple. Once an account is created, users have free rein to choose what their book will be about. Some examples of books that have been or can be created include: “about me” books, poetry books, digital portfolios, interactive stories, or even a math or science lesson.


Once the book is finished, users have the opportunity to publish their book. The published book is then shared with both their classmates as well as others around the world. One class even published their books on the Apple iBookstore and six of the students’ books were featured in the top 150 downloads!


The Positives

Students can sometimes be reluctant to participate in class. Utilizing Book Creator in the classroom gives a voice to those students who are hesitant to speak up or participate in class discussions. The book creations from students also help to demonstrate their understanding of a lesson. Book Creator also offers an option for global collaboration, where classrooms from different parts of the world can work on a project simultaneously, without actually being in the same place.


What Teachers are Saying

This is authentic learning at its best. My students have a voice.”

–  Jane Ross, Digital Literacy Coach


“Book Creator has provided such a user-friendly platform. Students’ ability to create and share audio and visual content truly engages “student voice and choice” in math class!”

  • Cathy Yenca, Middle School Mathematics Teacher

It can be challenging to sift through the immense amount of tech resources that are available to teachers! Here are a few of our favorites, selected based on ease of implementation, usefulness, and student engagement.


This is the website for those who have too many thoughts. Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that is perfect for brainstorming and organizing. The tool can also be used for note taking, as well.

Preparing a lesson for your class? Mindmeister offers both a function for brainstorming and planning – both essential for creating a lesson plan.

Create your first mind map here.

post it notes on a wall



Created in 2009, Prezi has quickly become a leading presentation software for both the business and education sector. The design of Prezi has helped its rise in popularity. Unlike PowerPoint slides, Prezi offers an interactive way to present, complete with a zoomable canvas and premade templates.

There is no shortage to the type of presentations that can be created with Prezi. Topics range from analyses of books to a sales pitch in a business meeting. More importantly, because of the design of Prezi, they are much less boring to watch, therefore keeping an audience entertained and fully engaged.

The best part? It’s free. You can learn more or sign up to make your first Prezi here.



Like Prezi, Kahoot can be used in both the business and education sector. It is a primarily a mobile app, used to take quizzes of all types. Kahoot helps to keep everyone connected through a fun and interactive quiz format.

In the business world, Kahoot can be used to make any type of training or presentation more fun and engaging. Kahoot is used for team building exercises, making group trainings much more fun. In the education world, Kahoot can be used to either quiz students, or it can also be used as a study tool when there is a test.

Learn more about Kahoot here.

students are excited and looking at a computer screen


Penzu is a site created for those people who love to write, but don’t like pen and paper. It’s an online journal and diary platform that can be used for anything from wedding planning to daily thoughts.

In the education sector, Penzu can be used as a tool for daily writing assignments or for spicing up homework. The awesome thing about Penzu is its accessibility. Anybody can write from anywhere, as the website also has a mobile app, allowing anyone to write from wherever they are, at their own convenience.

If you’re ready to start writing, click here.



Study Blue

Sponsored by Chegg, Study Blue is an online study library. Equipped with over 400 million notecards and study guides, students should have no problems studying for that upcoming test. Because of the app, students are able to study wherever they go. Study Blue also offers the option to create quizzes, giving students the opportunity to see what they already know.

Try it out here.

a person takes notes while looking at a computer



No one learns the same way. Knewton knows that, so they’ve created a platform for every single type of learner. The company has provided 28 million adaptive learning courses since its founding in 2008.

The company integrated a new system known as Alta. Alta allows students to learn through completely personalized instruction and the program provides the student with an assessment of their mastery of the subject. Even better, the technology is easy-to-use and automatically provides feedback to the instructors.

You can learn more about Knewton here.


iClass CMS

iClass provides websites for schools that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st-century school. Teachers have the ability to communicate with parents instantly and at no cost. Students are able to work remotely and access information via their smartphone or laptop. Learn more here.


By Taylor
A woman and her daughter look at a computer screen.

Header: Foolproof ADA Compliance Tips for Your School's Website

When crafting a school webpage, it’s critical to consider how all users will interact with the site. It’s valuable for schools to be proactive when considering how the site will function for users with disabilities. Here are 5 simple fixes for common accessibility problems on the web.

A woman and her daughter look at a computer screen.


Problem #1: Media Accessibility

Users are unable to view or listen to images, videos, and audio files.

Fix: Create alt tags for all multimedia files on the site. These provide a description of the content that users can read or hear. Learn about how to create descriptive alt tags here. Create text transcripts for video and audio content.


Problem #2: Time Constraints

Users lose data after a site’s time limit expires or they are forced to reauthenticate. This is an issue for parents who are enrolling their children or registering to volunteer.

Fix: Make sure data entered in forms is automatically saved as a user progresses through the site.


Problem #3: Navigation

Navigation should be consistent and logical. All navigation can be performed with a keyboard.

Fix: Ensure that pages have a coherent layout and position on the site. Provide multiple pathways by which users can navigate the site. “Skip navigation” functionality will let users seamlessly access information.


Problem #4: Documents

Most schools use their website to post and share documents with pupils, parents, and the community. Many are uploaded in PDF form, and there is no way for visually impaired users to access a description.

Fix: Provide text from all documents in another text-based form, such as HTML or RTF.


Problem #5: Visual Design Elements

Color and contrast ratios are important to the aesthetic appeal of your website but can make it hard for users to view information. Additionally, many sites feature small text. Often, it is impossible for users to change the site’s settings for color and font size.


Fix: Ensure that users are able to view the site using the operating system or browser preferences for color and font size.


Feel like compliance is a lot to manage on your own?

iClassCMS provides website and app solutions for schools that are fully compliant and well designed. Learn more here.


All American commercial and public entities that use websites to advertise or provide a service are required by law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.

Specifically, the law affects:

  • Americans with disabilities and their friends, families, and caregivers
  • Private employers with 15 or more employees
  • Businesses operating for the benefit of the public
  • All state and local government agencies

The purpose of the ADA is to ensure that people with disabilities can avail of equal opportunities, and in regards to websites the ADA aims to:

“Establish requirements for making the goods, services, facilities, privileges, accommodations, or advantages offered by public accommodations via the Internet, specifically at sites on the World Wide Web (Web), accessible to individuals with disabilities.”

The Department of Justice refers website owners and operators to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3G) for guidance as to what a website must feature in order for it to be ADA compliant.

The very latest edition of the WCAG (version 2.0) includes 12 guidelines for the four main tenants of the ADA:

A full breakdown of the 12 guidelines can be found here, which we’ve summarized below for your convenience.

  1. Perceivable

This section deals with information and user interface components, which must always be presented to users in ways they can perceive.

  • Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives: Websites must provide text alternatives for all non-text content.
  • Guideline 1.2 Time-Based Media: Websites must provide alternatives for time-based media (audio, video etc.).
  • Guideline 1.3 Adaptable: Content must be created in such a way that it can be presented in different forms e.g. a simpler layout, without losing structure or information.
  • Guideline 1.4 Distinguishable: Users must be able to easily see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
  1. Operable

This section refers to user interface components and navigation, both of which must be operable by the user.

  • Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible: All functionality must be available to access from a keyboard.
  • Guideline 2.2 Enough Time: Enough time must be provided for users to read and use content.
  • Guideline 2.3 Seizures: Websites must not design or host content in ways that are known to cause seizures.
  • Guideline 2.4 Navigable: Websites must provide users with ways that can help them navigate, find content and determine where they are.
  1. Understandable

This section relates to information and the operation of user interfaces and the fact that they must be understandable by all users.

  • Guideline 3.1 Readable: Text content must be readable and understandable.
  • Guideline 3.2 Predictable: Web pages must appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance: Help must be provided to ensure users can avoid and correct mistakes.
  1. Robust

This section concerns content and how it must be robust enough so that it can easily and reliably be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents including those that utilize assistive technologies.

  • Guidelines 4.1 Compatible: Websites must facilitate maximum compatibility with current and future user agents, including those that utilize assistive technologies.

Please keep in mind that the above are simply summarized versions of the provided guidelines; you can view an in-depth breakdown of each guideline on the webpage for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

It’s vital that your school website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, as failure to do so can result in penalties and fines, which is obviously something you want to avoid.

The iClassCMS platform fully complies with the standards set in the ADA and the guidelines laid out by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, ensuring your school website is always in compliance and fit for purpose.

The iClassCMS platform also provides an annual ADA compliance report so you can get up to speed with new guidelines and maintain a best in class school website.

For more information, please get in touch with us here.


With our mobile app you can send push messages at no cost to parents. As such it would be good practice to send regular positive messages to all users. i.e the School wins a big sporting event, is having the canteen refurbished or is working with a charity.

Like with all communications, the key is being regular. If in a smaller school you may want to schedule your story weekly. Simply;

1 – write up the story on the website

2 – click into the story on the website

3 – copy the URL and paste it into a message to all app users. i.e Our school wins the county football final. Click here to read the full story – Story URL



If you are working on webpages and would like to temporarily remove them from your website but not delete the pages this is very simple. On the Control Panel;

1 – Click ‘Menu’

2 – Expand the menu structure in the panel on the right by clicking on the arrow beside the menu link.

3 – Click on the sub menu you would like to hide

4 – Click ‘Remove’

You can then continue to work away on the page in question and put the sub-menu link back when the page is complete



Include videos in your news, web pages or newsletters. We recommend using a private Youtube video channel for uploading and optimising your videos. Simply follow the following steps;

1 – Create a school Gmail account. (this automatically creates a Youtube account)

2 – Click Youtube

3 – Set Youtube Channel to ‘Private’ so your videos are not publically available

4 – Upload your vide

5 – Once video is uploaded click ‘Share’ and ‘Embed’ and copy the embed code

6 – In your news article or webpage click ‘Insert’ and ‘Media’ and paste the embed code into URL field and your video is now in your page or newsletter



When posting event simply set Register to ‘Yes’ to allow for student registration. Parents can register their children on either the web or mobile app.

A few days before the event you can message unregistered student to check if they are going. Click on ‘Events’ in the Admin Console and under ‘#Attend’ click the number beside your event to print a list of pupils registered


The iClass platform is perfect for creating great newsletters. Say goodbye to printing 1000s of pages and time wasted creating PDFs

Simply publish an article and tag it with the keyword ‘Newsletter’. This will automatically publish to the web and also go straight to parents on the mobile app without the need for sending files. You can also send a message to parents with a link to the newsletter ensuring the get notified.

Parents can also click on ‘Newsletters’ then within ‘News’ for all previous issues

There is lots functionality within the publishing module allowing for great newsletters. Check out the Help section for help inserting videos, uploading image galleries, sharing files and more