Ultimaker: Changing Education Paradigms with 3D Printing

By Sophie Curtis on April 23, 2015

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There is a lot of hype around 3D printing and its game changing potential, but the question is: how do we convert this potential into reality?

The CREATE Education project by Ultimaker focuses on certain core values that allow education institutions to be confident in inspiring the next generation. Their open source philosophy and belief in the sharing of knowledge makes Ultimaker 3D printers the perfect choice for education institutions to enter into this exciting new world. Through the CREATE Education Project, Ultimaker provide free teaching resources and for an ever expanding community of educators, community maker-spaces and innovation enterprises in the UK. 

At RE.WORK The Future of Education, Paul Croft, Director of Ultimaker, will be sharing examples of success stories and challenges, and holding a discussion open for collaboration with attendees. We caught up with Paul before the event on 15 June to hear more about his work and the CREATE Education project.

What area of edtech are you currently working in?
The CREATE Education Project focuses on making 3D printing and open source thinking accessible to everybody in education. The project has pulled us into many areas all of which are offering exciting opportunities.

Who are your key customers/audience?
The demand for 3d printing has been well documented in recent years. The disruptive influence has been felt in most industries from architecture to the medical sector. As a result education institutions are realising the need to incorporate this technology in many areas of the curriculum. When we launched the campaign we thought demand would be predominantly at Secondary / FE level but we have been pleasantly surprised by the buy in at primary school level.

What problem are you trying to address?
There have been many technologies since I was at school that have been heralded as 'revolutionary' and 'game changing' but they have seldom had the anticipated impact. There are a variety of reasons for this and budget is not always the major barrier its perceived to be! The CREATE Education Project was conceived to address the common headaches - teacher confidence, support, resources, reliability, the sharing of best practice and relevance to employment opportunities. By developing a community that addresses these issues and connecting different stakeholders we are alleviating many of the traditional challenges by socially proving the benefits.

How did you come across that problem?
Thanks to family connections (they are all teachers!) we have a unique insight into barriers for tech adoption in education. Before we started promoting the potential of 3D Printing and the capabilities of Ultimaker machines, we listened to teachers and decision makers and asked how we could make it as easy as possible for pupils to receive the learning benefits on offer. Their feedback guided the development of the CREATE Education Project and community input remains vital to our progress.

What partners have been essential to your progress?
Without the ease of use and reliability of the Ultimaker 3D printer our goals would have been even more challenging. The founders would glady tell you without the open source maker community the innovation and development would not have been possible and therefore I'd say the community in general has been essential.

What challenges have you come across in establishing your business?
There are two main challenges we face - dealing with misconceptions about 3d printing and giving as many people access as possible. The first challenge concerns peoples opinions on how expensive the tech is, how long it takes and the skills levels required. Whilst overcoming these misconceptions can take time seeing people embrace whats possible is really rewarding. The second issue is also an opportunity, the more people who have access to 3d printers the more innovation occurs and the larger the maker movement grows.

What advancements are we most likely to see in the edtech space in the next 5 years?
The edtech scene is becoming more dynamic so predictions can often be wide of the mark. What I can confidently say is that we will see a convergence of existing technologies into more 'joined up' projects. For example, if we are to proceed inline with forecasts for wearable tech and IOT then education will need to provide opportunities for people to use myriad different forms of technology as part of the creative process.

RE.WORK The Future of Education is taking place during London Technology Week on 15 June 2015. For more information and to register, please visit the event website here.
Ultimaker will also be exhibiting and presenting at the Future of Technology Summit in London in September. 



Future of Education EdTech Design & UX 3D-Printing Future Technology Summit London Technology Week


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