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A. Lund, H. Negendahl, D. Hammershøi, T. Ryberg

Aalborg University (DENMARK)
The advent of affordable 3D printing has provided the possibility for the use of 3D printing in educational settings. Previous studies have demonstrated the benefits and possibilities of these technologies in education [Kostakis et al., 2014], [Blikstein, 2013a], [Smith et al., 2015]. To find out what factors can contribute to a wider use of 3D printers in education, a qualitative study was performed. This was done by introducing 3D printers in four different schools in Denmark, and both the opportunities and barriers that the technology presented were investigated. The teachers in this study had responsibility for integrating the technology into their classrooms. Data was gathered from three sources: semi structured interviews with the involved teachers; open ended questionnaires collected from 67 pupils who had worked with the 3D printers; and some field observations of the classes where the 3D printers were used. All sources of data were analysed using Yin's five-fold method [Yin, 2011]. From these sources of data, it was discovered that the teachers had problems with the printing capacity (most having only one 3D printer in a class), and that the lack of existing lesson plans and teaching aids were a problem as well. This was especially true since the teachers had very little time in terms of preparation for each class. However, the teachers, the pupils, and the field observations show great opportunities to teach 21st century skills and to teach using powerful interdisciplinary projects. The study has therefore shed light on the barriers and possibilities this technology presented in these schools.

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