T1: Educational Uses of Digital Fabrication: From 2D Idea to 3D Object

Shaunna Smith, The University of Houston, United States

Monday, March 29, 2010
8:30 AM-12:00 PM

This tutorial will introduce educators to digital fabrication and demonstrate how to use computer-controlled die cutting systems to turn 2-D ideas into educational 3-D objects. Despite numerous technological advances with virtual manipulatives, many learners still need to touch and feel their way towards an educational epiphany; one in which the point and click of a mouse cannot always provide. One solution is to allow educators to utilize digital fabrication to integrate meaningful hands-on activities into their lessons, enabling 2-D ideas to spring to life in 3-D. Examples include creating a 3D pop-up model of an insect in science to further study its anatomy, creating 3D platonic solids in math, or creating a 3D globe in geography to illustrate the relationship between the continents and oceans. Regardless of what is created, the tangible nature of the activity engages students and enhances further understanding of the concept being taught and pushes students to attain higher level thinking skills. Many educationally relevant examples will be shown, and all participants will receive access to a workshop website that includes sample files and resources.

Participants will:
• Learn what digital fabrication is;
• Discover the different types of digital fabrication and view examples;
• Examine the process of digital fabrication;
• Explore required materials and explore open source/Web 2.0 software options;
• Discuss educational uses: which subject areas and grade levels are most appropriate for digital fabrication;
• Investigate the considerations for educators who want to begin integrating digital fabrication in their instruction; and
• Consider future potential for collaboration with fellow educators.

Topics discussed:
• What is digital fabrication and how can it be used meaningfully in the classroom?
• What are the different types of digital fabrication?
• The process of digital fabrication: from conceptualizing an idea to digitizing to hands-on construction.
• Required materials: software, computer-controlled die cutting system, and manipulative materials
• What are the open source/Web 2.0 software options?
• Which subject areas and grade levels are most appropriate for digital fabrication?
• The considerations for educators who want to begin integrating digital fabrication in their instruction: costs, funding, support, resources
• Online Resources (University of Houston, University of Virginia)
• Future collaboration with fellow educators: blogs, wikis, and other organizations.

This tutorial is intended for higher education faculty, graduate students, and K-12 teachers in all content areas and at all grade levels. No materials, experience or prerequisite knowledge are required.

Intended Experience Level:

Instructor Qualifications:
Shaunna Smith is a doctoral student in the Instructional Technology program in the University of Houston’s College of Education. Under the guidance of Dr. Bernard Robin, she has created videos about digital fabrication and has worked collaboratively with colleagues across the nation. She previously taught art, graphic design, animation, and web development at the high school and community college level. Mrs. Smith is currently working as an instructional technology assistant for the college’s iSMART program, which is a M.Ed. program that explores the integration of math and science for middle school teachers in Texas. Her interests include digital storytelling, online learning environments, digital fabrication and Web 2.0 tools.