Program provides 3-D printing peer learning opportunities for educators

Dive Brief:

  • As the use of 3-D printing in K-12 education continues to expand, a new program for educators has been created to act as a forum for teachers to learn how to properly use the technology from peers as opposed to manufacturers, according to Ed Tech: Focus on K-12.

  • The creators of MakerBot Educators boast that there have been more than 100 applications from educators with varying levels of 3-D printing familiarity, and supporters say it is a simple and affordable way for educators to network with others who can offer technical expertise.

  • Spending on 3-D printing in all industries is expected to pass $35 billion by 2020, and educators believe more interaction with the technology can help students prepare for college and the workplace. 

Dive Insight:

The push to supply educators with more peer training in 3-D printing indicates a broader concern that educators lack sufficient training in new tech to utilize it in classrooms. 3-D printers can be unlikely purchases due to their cost, and nearly half of teachers believe price, rather than student outcomes, is the clearest indicator of whether a school will supply new tech. If a district decides to expend funds on purchasing a 3-D printer, it may blanch at additional costs associated with training faculty and staff to operate it properly.

The high turnover rates of teachers in K-12 education may also act as a barrier to needed tech training, as school districts may be hesitant to offer educators such training if they believe the teacher may leave before they can recoup their investment. An organization like MakerBot is a bit similar to educators who purchase lesson plans online, with the teacher (and school) potentially saving extensive time and resources by finding an alternative way to prepare.

Regarding concerns in K-12 tech education, Robert Craven, the senior director for technology at Tustin Unified School District, said it was vital to ensure that training continue even in the face of high turnover rates, saying that failing to do so could contribute to “digital equity gaps” between fellow teachers, schools and districts

Filed Under: K12 Technology