I printed out a white rabbit in my materials technology tutorial group the other day. Meet Baxter: he took over an hour to print and is made from plastic.
For my last student teacher placement I was fortunate enough to be placed in a BYOD (Bring your own device) high school. Classes of students were poised behind (mostly) ipads in the classroom which now looked nothing like I remember from my high school days and more like a set of Beyond 2000. While in some classes the devices were used mainly for word processing I quickly discovered teachers who were fully embracing the technologies available, eagerly searching out ways to develop units that saw students use their devices in an extension to their learning.
A common term discussed in my lectures has been ’21st Century learners’. A focus that has shifted from equipping learners with content to ensuring learners are equipped with not only the content but also the skills necessary to function within a globalized structure. Creativity, innovation, communication and problem solving skills.
I feel like if I am to truly prepare students for the world beyond the school gates then I need to not only embrace technology but develop students understanding of how these tools can be used to facilitate their own learning. Or more to the point, I need to figure out how to teach life long strategies that enable students to participate fully and responsibly with the technologies that are enveloping them at faster rates than ever. I find this challenge exciting and it makes me even more eager to have my own class.
Back to Baxter. My mind has been racing ever since Baxter entered my world to figure out how I could use a 3D printer in lessons and not just as a substitute for other already available tools. And then I stumbled upon the story of Buttercup – the duckling that was born with a deformed right leg. A 3D printer was used to print a replica based on a sibling and then used as a mold for Buttercup’s prosthesis. Pretty amazing to see this tool used to solve a problem in a real world situation.