Why Documentation is Important

Objectives and Overview

Throughout Maker Foundations you’ll be asked to document your projects through media, Maker’s Statements, and Maker’s Reflections. This lesson will introduce you to these different documentation methods as well as the importance of documentation.

Lesson Objectives

  • Identify the importance of documenting your work

Why Document?

Throughout DHF programs, you’ll be asked to maintain a portfolio. Portfolios are an effective way to document and share new work or learning.

During Maker Foundations, you will be uploading photos, videos, and other written reflections to a Google Drive folder instead of maintaining a web portfolio. You should focus on documenting your work and new learning as you progress through Maker Foundations so that you can share all of the new things you have learned and made at the end of the program. Practicing and developing these documentation habits from the beginning will build the foundational skills that will help in future portfolio creation.

Documenting your work on Google Drive will help you keep track of everything that you make and learn throughout Maker Foundations so that you can refer to them later.

You’ll be sharing your documentation with the program staff through the shared Google Drive. Much of the tech and maker communities are built by folks sharing work and things they’ve learned. Sharing is a really important part of what we do.

Importance of Documentation

Documentation and portfolios serve an important role in tracking the progress of a project, the final outcome of a project, and all of the learning and new skills that are discovered along the way. The documentation that you do through media and reflections will serve as a record of all the awesome things you are going to make at the Tech Center and all of the new skills you will gain through this program and beyond.

With the rise of the Maker Movement, many colleges and universities (and even high schools) are beginning to accept maker portfolios as part of your application as a very effective way to share more about who you are, what you enjoy making, and things you’ve learned. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is leading the way with their Maker Portfolio submissions for incoming freshmen. Learn more about their reasons and process in this video, “When Makers Apply to College” by Dr. Dawn Wendell from MIT Admissions:

MIT’s Dr. Dawn Wendell: When Makers Apply to College from Maker Faire on FORA.tv

At the end of Maker Foundations, you will review your documentation with the Program Staff to share your projects, what you’ve learned, and what you’d like to pursue further as a Member. Because your Maker Portfolio will be a simple website, you will also be able to share it with anyone else you’d like – for high school or college applications, or your friends, or your family – to show what you are able to do.

What to Document

The concept of documenting your work may seem overwhelming at first, but with some practice, it will become second nature. The main things that you’ll be documenting are your mini-projects at the end of each module. The first module that you’ll be asked to do this is Graphic Design. The documentation may look slightly different for each project, but the key point is that you have some form of media documentation that accompanies your project. Don’t worry about creating the fanciest screenshots or staged photos of your work. Instead, focus on capturing your project and the process of making.

One of the best documentation habits that you can build is to document a project while you’re making it. Ideally, documentation is a part of the making process instead of something that is done after you finish. The more that you practice including time to reflect and take photos, video, or write down your thoughts while working on the project. If you build this into your workflow from the beginning the process will become natural and you’ll be a documentation pro in no time!

Documenting the Process

One way to get in the habit of documenting your work is to have a Chrome tab open with your Google Drive folder so that you can easily drop any screenshots or pictures into your drive.