If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must invest in educational technology. When schools use technology to improve the quality and quantity of educational content, learners will thrive. Amid this technology-driven educational environment, 3D printing offers students the following: helping to facilitate differentiated instruction, increasing student engagement, expanding practice opportunities, and scaling up standardized instruction.
No More One-Size-Fits-All Teaching
Differentiated instruction is a teaching approach that tailors instruction to all students’ learning needs. Most students are unlikely to get much from “one-size-fits-all” instruction. Instead, it should vary based on students’ interests, preferences, strengths, and struggles.
According to educator Carol Ann Tomilson, there are four different ways to differentiate learning: 1) Content: figuring out what a student needs to learn and which resources will help; 2) Process: activities that help students make sense of what they learn; 3) Projects: ways for students to “show what they know;” 4) Learning environment: how the classroom “feels” and how the class works together. 3D technologies can help support a differentiated approach to instruction.
Integrating the 3D design process allows students to synthesize different pieces of knowledge and apply what has been taught to them by designing their own creations. This spurs student creativity and improves learning and collaboration. In addition, students can bring objects out of textbooks and off computer screens to provide hands-on learning opportunities. As a result, students can be creators rather than just consumers.
Increased Student Engagement
When school curriculum is adaptive to a student’s unique needs, it’s more likely to promote student progress because each child can move at their own pace. 3D printing engages learners in a way like never before – it creates comfortable, personalized equipment, promotes hands-on, tactile learning, and makes learning fun and engaging.
In fact, a recent report found that while many schools were closed over the past year, respondents were still able to use 3D printing to support their lessons and drive student participation and engagement. For example, 57 percent of respondents stated that they used 3D printing for student-designed prototypes for problem-based learning projects, while 36 percent used 3D printed parts for specific lessons as a way to increase engagement. This is important as 48 percent of the respondents noted that low student engagement was a significant obstacle for virtual learning.
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