Encouraging Modern Innovation in Education
Technology is not new to the education system. With tablets, such as the Chromebook, being integrated into American curriculums, BYOT (bring your own technology) days, STEM in the UK which focuses on science and engineering and high school level CAD courses being offered, it is no surprise that 3D Printing has found its place in education.
3D Printing and CAD Education
Per an article from industry week, STEM may need to do more to provide the technology and the engineering skill set for the modern digital age. The article pushes the need for 3D Printing curriculum in the classrooms. Such vocational training programs have been integrated globally into the school systems. However, most schools do not have a course during traditional learning hours. Some schools have opted to offer after school 3D Printing courses, showing that the interest is there and that the education system is making a step in the right direction where 3D Printing is concerned.
3D printing technology can be explored is in architectural drafting programs, engineering programs, and in industrial vocational programs (making prototypes and such), as the software for such courses tend to have 3D Printing capabilities, the topic is covered, albeit minutely in some instances.
This is not to say that all school systems and all curriculums are void of CAD and 3D Printing. Quite the contrary is true. Due to the affordability of the Desktop 3D Printer, as well as the ability to network computers to the printer, such as with the OctoPrint Kits, more schools are opting to use the technology of 3D Printing to inspire innovation in students. The premise is that if minds can be conditioned to creativity, problem solving, and innovation early, those minds can lead to developing products and solutions which can shape the world for the better.
The Challenges of 3D printing in Education
Whenever you introduce a new curriculum into education, there are a few factors which must be considered. Primarily, one needs to look at the pre-requisites, the standing of learning for the current school, and the overall impact that the course will have upon students.
With 3D Printing, one of the largest challenges will be within the mathematical sector of education. Research from business insider shows that the top countries in math and science are Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Estonia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Canada. The UK is ranked number 20 with the United states ranked at number 28.
Based upon the rankings, we can expect to see China and Japan to possibly lead the way in 3D Printing in education. Additionally, you will find that Dubai might have a high number of schools focusing on 3D Printing and design. The reason being that Dubai recently made the first completely 3D fabricated office. The area (both Dubai and surrounding districts) has also stated that they wish to focus on the 3D Printing process. Consequently, 3D Printing in Education will be a necessity to facilitate this goal.
For the countries which rank lower in mathematics and science, there may be a learning curve to overcome. On the other hand, the integration of the technology as “something new” may spark students to excel in those areas (math and science) where they were once lacking. By showing students that math and science have practical real-world use, students are more prone to take the learning of such topics more seriously.
The Global impact of 3D Printing in Education
Perhaps the biggest advantage of 3D Printing in Education is the global impact. Firstly, the students which use this technology are more prone to creative thinking as well as to the technical side of the process. This is using both sides of the brain rather than focusing on the right (creative) or the left (analytical) half. The duality of the training, coupled with the real-world scenarios presented in these courses train students for jobs in the future. Secondly, as students create and explore new possibilities, the industry will evolve to a higher standard. Processes for 3D Metal Printing, 3D Glass Printing, and standard filament printing are apt to become more intuitive as more and more schools integrate 3D Printing into education.
3D Printing in Education for Teachers
Apart from student learning, 3D Printing can be used in the classrooms to help students grasp various concepts in a more 3-dimensional method. For example, anatomy teachers can use the 3D Printer to replicate hearts, bones, and muscle fibers. Year 1 teachers can use the 3D Printer to fabricate primary shapes for students. Regardless of what teachers choose to print, the point is that 3D Printing is essential in education to prepare the workforce of the future for tomorrow’s technology.