I’ve been pretty heavily involved with edtech in many different forms for over a decade. It started when the internet first arrived at my school in the late 90’s and progressed pretty quickly through blogging, skype, wikis and a dozen other tools when web 2.0 (when was the last time you heard that term?) exploded into classrooms. Edtech gave us the potential to connect with others that we hadn’t been able to in the past. It gave us a vision of what learning could become.
But these days, with many companies and tools, the vision of what schools, education and learning can be seems to be retreating. Many companies are getting locked into a vision of learning that focuses on discrete skills and calling this personalization. They seem to have given up on passion and imagination and creativity. This is disappointing to me.
Thankfully, this isn’t true everywhere. Companies and people are still pushing the edges of learning and a larger vision of schools. Some places are still pushing towards what Will Richardson used to call Bold Schools.
I believe that Brook Drumm and Printrbot is one of those companies.
Brook started Printrbot as a Kickstarter project and it has grown into a world leader in the 3D printing industry. While other companies are striving to make 3D printing expensive and changing the machines drastically, Brook has gone the other route, working to make Printrbot 3D printers better, more reliable, cheaper and easier to use. The Printrbot Simple can be in a classroom for less than $600. I believe this vision of making, designing and building in schools and classrooms has great potential for allowing kids to dream, to be curious and to build real things using real tools.
For these reasons, I’ve agreed to work with Printrbot as an education consultant. Alongside of Josh Ajima, the two of us are going to build Printrbot Learn. Brook is passionate about education and learning. He wants to help kids and schools get tools to work and learn with. This has impressed me.
I’ll remain working in my classroom full time. We hope to build Printrbot Learn into a space where teachers can access good quality lesson plans for 3D printing (to start with). We want to build a community of learners and teachers and tinkerers who have access to quality information. One thing that is important to me and which convinced me to come on board is Brook’s belief that all of this information will be printer agnostic (it doesn’t matter if you own a Printrbot, a Cube, a Makerbot or something else) and it is all going to be freely available online under a Creative Commons license. Printrbot Learn has launched as part of Printrbot’s main site, but we also have a presence on twitter and on Google Plus. More sites will be added as we go. We are going to begin hosting Google Hangouts soon and we have other plans which we are going to grow over the next few months.
If you are a super geek deep into programming and g-code, we hope this will be a useful resource for you and your classroom. If you are just starting out, taking your first steps in this world, we hope to help you get you over the tough time that starting out in a new direction can be.
Follow us at @printrbotlearn
Check us out on the web at learn.printrbot.com