OLTD 509 Blog Post #3 – Thoughts on Roger Vernon’s Collaborate Session

What follows is a semi coherent set of paragraphs concerning Roger Vernon’s Collaborate Seminar on 3D printing.

One of the most interesting things I took away from Roger’s talk was the separation between the process of designing a 3D object, and the printing of the object itself.  It seems like there is so much emphasis on the object that is created, but the process of creating that object is often more important as a learning opportunity.  Working on my rudimentary birthday cake model was quite the endeavour, and I felt quite proud of it once I finished it, but I don’t think I would need it printed off in real life to feel as though that work was complete.  The process of dragging and stretching those cylinders was enough for me.  I can see how printing off a model may be important in order to test it out in the real world and note any modifications that need to be made, but often I’m wondering if it is worth the cost of the materials.

I had always envisioned the turning point in 3D printing’s adoption occurring when a significant portion of people have these printers in their households.  After Roger’s talk, it appears that this may not be necessary.  Being able to access a printer at the library, Staples, or Kinkos would certainly be enough for me, and I’m sure for many others.  At this point I can’t see myself using a 3D printer that often, but I’m willing to admit that this may change as the speed and cost of them improve.  With access to free design software, and services to print out our creations popping up everywhere, this technology is more readily available than I initially guessed.

I am hopeful that more programs like Roger’s will be appearing in our schools.  It seems like a logical extension of wood shop and metal work, and seems like a good way to expand the scope of those courses.  I wonder if in the future all three of these courses may be merged under the banner of “design” with 3D printing giving students a greater amount of freedom in how they design and work with physical materials.

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2 responses to “OLTD 509 Blog Post #3 – Thoughts on Roger Vernon’s Collaborate Session”

  1. Marieke Holtkamp says :

    Hi Ben, I am so glad that Roger’s work resonated with you. I have been fortunate to work closely with Roger and I have learned so much from him. I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that the creation process is often more valuable than the end result. When Roger and I piloted the ENTER program last year we found that a lot of our time was spent creating and re-creating. Some students would work on projects and not get to the end, but the learning they did along the way was incredible. At first they were frustrated and tried to hurry as they wanted that end result, that final masterpiece, even if it did not work or meet the criteria. It took some time to teach them that the creating, evaluating and re-creating piece is where their learning was occurring – that this is where they would meet the criteria. Students learned that they could present their project unfinished and demonstrate where they failed, why they failed and where they were going back to redevelop and reevaluate. Of course, having an end result is great and when things work it is exciting and valuable as well, but knowing that this wasn’t necessary and that we valued the time spent making mistakes and evaluating them really allowed the students to put their time and energy into the process in a meaningful way.

  2. Justin Mark says :

    Hi Ben,

    I also really appreciated Roger’s presentation. Like you I agree that perhaps the creation process is where the most important learning will take place. Although there must be some satisfaction for students to actually lay hands on what they produced. I worked with Google Sketchup and I attempted to produce an iPod case as I wanted to create something that I might actually use. After a few video tutorials and a couple of hours of experimentation, I grew frustrated and downloaded the template for one, which I attempted to customize. I suppose this whole process taught me that as user friendly as this design software has become, some directed instruction is required and I imagine that there would be an incredible amount of learning and instruction for students to become adept at this form of design and create something meaningful.

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