The popularity of Ultimaker never seems to lessen, with their printers consistently appearing on “top printer” lists from a number of market research organizations. The quality of their products is largely undisputed, but their appeal is enhanced by their open source, collaborative business model. Some of their recent printer upgrades are the result of tinkering by members of the Ultimaker Community, an online network of thousands of users who share their ideas, advice, questions, prints, and open source designs. Now, Ultimaker is extending that collaborative mindset to a new educational initiative.
The Ultimaker Pioneer Program invites educators to share their 3D printing work and experience on the new Ultimaker Education website, which will serve as a centralized resource for teachers, librarians, administrators and any other interested individuals to obtain information and advice about 3D printing and education.
“Teaching 3D modeling and printing in our schools is a relatively new educational endeavor and faculty are on the front lines, figuring out the best methods of teaching as we continue to learn about the topic ourselves,” said Burton Isenstein, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. “It’s smart to tap into what’s already happening in classrooms throughout the world and the Ultimaker Pioneer Program will help educators build a base of knowledge upon everyone’s experience.”
Contributors to the Pioneer Program will maintain ownership of any content they submit through Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike, and Non-Commercial licensing. So far, 58 “pioneers” have been chosen to share their experiences and expertise on the website; you can get to know them and read their first contributions here. Contributors range from kindergarten teachers to college professors, from librarians to education consultants, based all over the United States.
“The Ultimaker Education Pioneers Program is a first of its kind, bringing together educators who have experience with 3D printing, regardless of the printer brand or model, and who are willing to share with other educators throughout North America,” said John Kawola, President of Ultimaker North America. “We’re thrilled to facilitate this program, assisting in enhancing the way young generations create with technology.”
Several members of the inaugural Education Pioneers group will be in attendance at the first annual 3D Printing Educators Conference, which will take place in spring of 2017. Further details will be released as the conference gets closer. The Ultimaker Education site, in addition to hosting the contributions of the Education Pioneers, also offers lesson ideas, reading lists, tools, links to courses and tutorials, and much, much more. It’s a comprehensive resource, and it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Lately, there’s been an intense race between technology, which continues to speed forward, and educators, who are trying to keep up. 3D printing education is only as useful as educators make it, meaning that it’s critical to get teachers to be fluent in the technology as quickly as possible. Who better to instruct teachers about 3D printing education than other teachers who are already knowledgeable about the technology and how best to introduce it to students? Learning from the experiences of someone who has already worked hands-on with 3D printing, what works and what doesn’t, has much more of an impact than trying to learn from books or courses alone.
“The greatest benefit of this program is the facilitation of collaboration and innovation amongst education professionals in the field of 3D design and manufacturing,” said Geoff Frankl, Technology Coordinator for students in grades 7–12 at IvyTech Charter School in Moorpark, California. “All of this will translate into modern curricula involving this burgeoning technology, the paramount goal of which will be transforming today’s youth into tomorrow’s well-trained and globally-competitive employee or entrepreneur.”
If you’d like to apply to be a member of the next group of Education Pioneers, you can do so here. Pioneers will not only be able to share their knowledge with the community, but will benefit from Ultimaker services like networking and beta testing programs for new hardware, software and materials that relate to 3D printing education. Discuss further over in the Ultimaker Asks Educators to Share 3D Printing forum at 3DPB.com.