I didn’t even watch Project Runway this year, but earlier this month I met Justin LeBlanc, one of this season’s finalists. He was being interviewed on My Carolina Today, as was I (in my poetry guise).
LeBlanc teaches at North Carolina State University in Raleigh (just down the road from Tagoras headquarters), and he used a 3D printer on campus to create accessories, like the neckpiece in the photos above.
Well, that got me thinking about 3D printing and its potential as a technology that helps enable or enhance learning. Imagine STL files to print a 3D object as part of the resources provided to learners to accompany a course or learning experience. Literal hands-on learning. Even for completely virtual, online offerings.
Of course, I’m not the first to think of the implications of 3D printing on learning. In “3D Printing in Training,” Jessica Knox looks at some of the obvious applications of 3D printing and the potential impact on learning.
The idea of 3D printing naturally evokes the use of 3D simulations for technical training, such as machinery operation, safety, and even science training for the pharmaceutical industry. Generally, simulations are used to give learners high-quality representations of objects or environments that are otherwise difficult to see or access.
Now, imagine being able to take elements of these simulations into the physical world, to let learners touch and physically interact with them. What might this do for learning impact? Well, for one, some evidence suggests that multimodal learning —meaning the provision of visual (image-based), auditory, reading-writing, and kinesthetic (hands on) content—is preferred by many learners and may increase overall retention.
Of course, mainstream 3D printing is still years off. But it’s fun to think of the impact it might have on learning when its day comes.
On November 14, we’re offering a free Webinar “2013 Learning Trends, 2014 Learning Forecast.” While I doubt 3D printing will come up, we’ll cover a lot of other interesting developments that are changing the face of learning.