EMERGING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND NEW LEARNING SPACES. THE CASE OF 3D PRINTING AT THE MEDIALAB OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SALAMANCA
Universidad de Salamanca (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This paper describes the complete process of integration of the 3D printing technology in the MediaLab of the University of Salamanca (USAL) following a methodology designed in four phases: access, exploration, transfer and application. MediaLab USAL is a new inter-disciplinary and collaborative learning space; a meeting point of Art, Science and Society to experiment with emerging technologies and to apply them to any field of knowledge. It is, therefore, a permanent place of the university devoted to encourage innovation and the integration of new technologies.
The teaching-learning processes in Higher Education are undergoing a transformation driven by technological and social factors. In particular, the development of digital technologies is providing increasing opportunities for educational applications. Emerging digital technologies, like 3D printing, are shown multiple possibilities in the most diverse educational environments. 3D printing refers to the set of technologies that allow constructing physical objects from three-dimensional digital content as computer-aided design (CAD), computer assisted tomography (CAT) or X-ray crystallography. Higher education applications range from making models for the manipulation of fragile objects like fossils to the reproduction of 3D graphs of mathematical functions or three-dimensional models of human body organs.
Firstly, the article describes the creation and development of the MediaLab USAL as part of the whole project presented by the University of Salamanca to the call made by the Spanish government in 2010 in order to obtain the quality sail of International Campus of Excellence. It also describes MediaLab USAL activities that can be divided into four groups: identification and dissemination of trends, promotion and encouragement of creativity, experimentation with emerging technologies and social innovation. All activities are open to the university community and to the city public.
Secondly, the four-phase methodology is explained and illustrated with the case of 3D printing technology. The initial phase is access to 3D printing technology and its applications. After that comes a stage of experimentation. This phase focused on assembling a 3D printer and in printing the first prototypes. In a third phase some theoretical and practical workshops were developed for the transfer of the acquired knowledge to members of the university community interested in 3D printing. From them emerged several applications to innovative teaching activities, final degree dissertations and doctoral thesis. The process culminates with the implementation phase, in this case, the creation of a 3D printing service for collaboration with teaching and research activities.
Finally, some conclusions are established about the contributions that learning spaces with the characteristics of MediaLab USAL make to Higher Education Institutions.
Keywords: Technology-based Innovation, New learning spaces, MediaLab, 3D-printing.