The Future is Now (Part Two): 3D Printing in Education

We started our exploration into the applicability of 3D printing by first covering its rapid growth in manufacturing and science-based industries, but what about the future of the method in education? Our blog on Makerspaces included the technology within the many new experimental methods found in the dedicated spaces. As a result, many educators are starting to explore the potential of using 3D printing within their classrooms and courses. The implications for 3D printing in education are wide ranging and are already being employed from elementary school classrooms to university labs and makerspaces.

The above graphic, created by the teaching blog Teach Thought, introduces 11 ways in which 3D printing could assist teachers and students. As educators strive to discover innovative and effective methods of instruction, particularly as students are socialized into a hyper tech-driven environment, 3D printers could help provide that much-needed visual (and physical) stimulus to keep students engaged with course material.

Gone are the days of chalkboards, projectors, and even PowerPoint (How PowerPoint is Killing Critical Thought), especially when infants are engaging in digital platforms at an ever-increasing rate. Advocates of makerspaces and the maker movement have certainly imagined a world in which every school has access to this technology. Within this educational environment, students would acquire new technological skills (that are in high demand) as well as develop advanced skills in improvisation, experimentation, and problem solving.

Whether it is printing out molecules to help learn biology, or printing a replica of the Titanic to further explore its disastrous end, 3D printing could bring ideas, events, and people off the textbook page and into the classroom in a way that few other technologies could accomplish.