If the epidemic has taught us anything, it is that we must invest in educational technology. When schools use technology to improve the quality and quantity of educational content, students will improve. In this technology-driven educational environment, 3D printing offers students the following: helping to facilitate differentiated instruction, increasing student engagement, expanding practice opportunities, and enhancing quality instruction.
And not one-size-fits-all education
Differentiated instruction is a teaching method that creates guidelines for all students’ learning needs. Most students are unlikely to get much out of the “one-size-fits-all” instruction. Instead, it should vary based on students ’interests, preferences, strengths and struggles.
According to educator Carol Ann Tomlinson, there are four different ways to differentiate learning: 1) Content: Determining what a student needs to learn and what resources will help; 2) Process: Activities that help students understand what they have learned; 3) Project: A way for students to “show what they know” 4) Learning environment: How the classroom “feels” and how the class works together. 3D technology can help support a different approach to direction.
Integrating the 3D design process allows students to synthesize different parts of knowledge and apply what they have been taught by designing their own creations. It encourages students ’creativity and improves learning and collaboration. Also, students can bring objects from textbooks and off the computer screen to provide hands-on learning opportunities. As a result, students can be creators, not just consumers.
Increased student engagement
When the school curriculum adapts to a student’s unique needs, it is more likely to promote student progress because each child can move at their own pace. 3D printing engages students in a way that has never happened before – it creates comfortable, personalized tools, promotes hands-on, sensitive learning, and makes learning fun and engaging.
In fact, a recent report found that even though many schools have closed in the past year, respondents have still been able to use 3D printing to support their lessons and drive student participation and engagement. For example, 57 percent of respondents said they used 3D printing for student-designed prototypes for problem-oriented learning projects, while 36 percent used 3D printed parts for specific lessons as a way to increase engagement. This is important because 48 percent of respondents noted that low student engagement was a significant barrier to virtual learning.