Even though 3D printers have been around for almost 30 years, the recent rise of low-cost printers has led some to proclaim the onset of a new industrial revolution. Schools and libraries all over the world are bringing these powerful tools to students in classrooms and dedicated “makerspaces” where they are accompanied by other fabrication tools. For example, China is putting 3D printers in each of its 400,000 elementary schools. In the U.S., are adding 3D printers into schools at a good rate, particularly into CAD programs, but also into traditional art and social studies classrooms and even business programs.

If 3D printing is starting a new industrial revolution, it is well on its way to revolutionizing teaching and learning as well. The result of bringing these tools into classrooms is a rekindling of the powerful pedagogy of hands-on learning. As 3D-VET project demonstrates, 3D printing leverages hands-on learning to deepen our educational approach to traditional educational subjects. Equipping learners to understand the application and potential of this new type of technology will be important to helping prepare them for a world in which similar technologies will be increasingly commonplace, particularly in STEM contexts.

3D printers have a powerful role to play in the classroom. In addition to strong curricular connections to modern standards, these machines support 21st century pedagogies that not only engage students in their present learning but teach them how to be “tinkerers” in learning the rest of their lives. Schools and training institutes wishing to introduce 3D printing technologies into teaching of STEM and design subjects need to factor in time required to train teachers and embed new approaches to teaching. This allows teachers starting from a lower base of expertise in 3D technologies adequate time to reflect on the various possibilities and to work with other teachers to develop and implement their ideas.

The project highlights the need for good quality upfront training of teachers when introducing new technologies including teaching approaches, and effective use of 3D printers in education. And will do so by providing a competitive training programme specialised for the VET teachers and educators, based on international experiences. The training programme will support teachers and educators to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies needed for the use of 3D printers on several educational subjects being taught in VET sector.

Project consortium:
1. KEKAPER-REGION OF CRETE (coordinator – Greece)
2. EELI – European Education & Learning Institute (Greece)
3. CEIPES – International Centre for the Promotion of Education & Development (Italy)
4. ETIC – School of Technologies, Innovation and Creation (Portugal)
5. KIT – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany)
6. UNINETTUNO – Università Telematica Internazionale (Italy)
7. WSEI – Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomii I Innowacji w Lublinie (Poland)
8. Inercia Digital (Spain)