Not Your Daddy’s Printer

How a 3-D printer enhances learning in the classroom.

GUEST COLUMN | by Darin Petzold

CREDIT Airwolf 3D  XLThink of it, model it, make it – that’s our motto at Serrano Intermediate School’s Tech Academy where we embrace Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education as we transition to Common Core. Our Tech Academy serves 102 7th and 8th grade students and consists of courses in sketch art, computer web design, stop motion animation and modeling design, and woodshop in a classroom equipped with an Airwolf XL 3D printer for manufacturing.

The 3D printer is a critical tool to enhance the learning process in our Tech Academy. It provides vital options that help us move our students forward in developing their creativity, critical thinking,

The 3D printer is a critical tool to enhance the learning process in our Tech Academy.

communication, and collaboration skills needed for success in the 21st century. For instance, this year our students will work collaboratively to create, design and manufacture a full-size, detailed prototype for an innovative product. 

What You Need To Know

First and foremost, the 3D printer is an exciting, cutting-edge technology tool (emphasis on the word “tool”) that we can effectively employ to engage students as we help them explore, learn and understand core principles. It is the perfect complement to our woodshop manufacturing. 

Second, 3D printers are a whole lot slower than laser printers. Manufacturing time can vary from one to seven hours depending on the size and complexity of the design model, which makes full-size models for 30-36 students in a 52 minute class impossible. To address this and keep students engaged, we teach students to design models scaled to miniature size, allowing us to produce more students’ products in a viable timeframe by putting multiple computer models in a matrix for the 3D printer. 

Our 3D printer allows us to produce more intricate and detailed products with a larger variety of material to choose from than we could manufacture in traditional woodshop, which is exciting for our students. For example, our students are making “Mini Me” bots with articulated limbs and detailed heads. Students will create an idea for their bots, sketch out their idea and then make the bots’ bodies and limbs with woodshop tools and create the head with the 3D printer. There are woodshop tools that we just don’t have the time to teach the students how to use safely to produce a detailed head, but we can teach them to design a computer model and program the 3D printer to make it. 

For the full-size prototype project, the students are making a sketch drawing to communicate their idea for everyone to review, then they will vote and select the best idea. The students will then have the opportunity to collaborate on designing the model and manufacturing the selected product for entry into our county’s 2014 Maker Challenge—a collaborative project of Career Technical Education of Orange County that provides an opportunity for local students to participate in an integrated STEM design project. Their challenge is to use 3D modeling and printing to design and build, or significantly repurpose, products that will solve problems, needs or wants. 

Our Tech Academy Process

Think It – Students create a product in their mind and then must be able to communicate it graphically to others. In the art course, students are learning to sketch their ideas utilizing single-point and two-point perspective drawing techniques. Without these art skills, students would not be able to transform their idea into a computer model design for manufacture. Once they have successfully communicated their idea in a drawing, students move on to the next stage of development.

Model It – Our computer course uses “Sketch Up” software to teach students how to design the model for their product to be manufactured. As part of this design process, students will need to use their knowledge of proportion and scale to design their model on a miniature scale. Not to mention being thoroughly engaged as they design a viable computer model.

Make It – Students learn to transfer their computer model to the software that will run the 3D printer to manufacture their product. 

Moving Forward

Our Airwolf XL 3D printer will continue to play an integral part as we move forward into our “STEAM” Academy next year, providing more sophisticated design, modeling, aerodynamics, automation and robotics engineering experiences for our students with the Project Lead the Way curriculum. With the variety of filaments available for our 3D printer, we will also be able to design and manufacture some of the parts that we will need for robotics and other projects. 

Darin Petzold teaches Wood Shop, Tech Academy and Science at Serrano Intermediate School, Lake Forest, California. Write to:

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Irreversible Momentum

Promethean CEO Jim Marshall discusses the future of technology in schools. 

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero 

Jim Marshall CEO of PrometheanJim Marshall is the CEO of Promethean. He was appointed to the Board in July 2012 having joined the Company in 2011 as President of North American Markets. Previously, Jim served as CEO of SpectrumK12, a company that produces software solutions to improve the performance of at-risk and special education students. Prior to leading SpectrumK12, he was CEO at Agentis Software and took the company through a management buyout to sustained profitability. Jim has held a number of high-profile executive positions, including Vice President of Apple’s US Education Division and has extensive experience of helping technology companies to build and develop accomplished management, sales, marketing, professional services and channels teams. Jim is an active member of the Cobb County Education Foundation and is a former Director of the Florida Council on Economic Education, an organization that teaches fundamental finance and business concepts to high school students. He has received public recognition for his work in

There is power in learning, and it is essential that all citizens are a part of it, and can participate.

education in the states of Michigan, Maine, Florida and Georgia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and General Sciences from the University of South Florida. In this EdTech Digest interview, Jim talks about current challenges, implications of a large Miami rollout, billions for broadband, and a force in education that can’t be stopped.

Victor: As someone who has spent many years in education, what do you see as the top challenges facing students/teachers today?

Jim: Well Victor, while it is difficult for anyone to narrow down the challenges faced by students and teachers today, I can tell you what I believe some of them to be. First of all, because there are many disrupted changes, mostly good, happening in classrooms today, it can be difficult for students and more so for educators to assimilate them, without some help, or professional development.

Furthermore, in the past few years, it has been easier for educators and students to use the Internet due to better devices and WiFi bandwidth capabilities. That has made the move to digital assets and online content more efficient and practical as well. Personal technology in the classroom has gone from just talk of 1:1 to handhelds for everyone, and now it includes touch interactivity with everything from whiteboards to tablets. Many of these changes have occurred in financial crises, down-turned budgets, and pedagogical moves from NCLB to common core standard goals, and more.

The problem still remains as to how these major changes can be managed in systems that have been isolated to change for so long.

Victor: Big things are happening in Miami. What sort of over-arcing theme do you have for the 18-month professional development accommodating that ActivBoard Touch rollout? 

Jim: Bringing technology all together in a meaningful way to make teaching and learning better should not make teaching or student achievement and progress more difficult. It’s not enough to just talk about hardware, software and solutions anymore. We need to drive any education initiative to improve teaching and learning outcomes. Now, if we can do that and make a teacher’s workload a bit easier by using technology, let’s do it. Miami-Dade is just one of many places where we can deliver real-time actionable knowledge, how to, and professional development to help teachers teach and students learn. We must also remember how important it is to know how those students are doing by the moment—child by child—in each class and day.

Victor: Company-wise and beyond Miami: What is “next” and how can your vision revitalize the conversation around education?

Jim: Well, what is next is where we’ve been headed for quite some time. We are now at the point where the technology and solutions we provide and continue to develop are becoming ubiquitous in the classroom. Beyond that, educators and students don’t need to be technology specialists to use them. The classroom user interface has change, and continues to change. While there still may be an interactive device at the front of the room, the teacher doesn’t need to be in the front of the room directing anymore. And because personalized devices are in the hands of students more, they can participate and help build more robust lessons and engage in their own learning more. The times of having only a few students in a class active will become rare. When we look at a classroom we see 25 to 30 researchers, scientists, mathematicians, individual learners and leaders collaborating.

Victor: In light of the 2008-09 recession and subsequent budget tightening and so on, including recent sequestration, are schools in the clear, or at least easing toward something close to a new normal in terms of budgets (especially with technology integration, updates and modernization in mind)? 

Jim: Budgets have improved as of July 1, 2013, and that was most likely the first time since the melt down. While it may not be over, the majority of the states either had improvements done, remained status quo, or looking at improvements now. I remain positive. Everyone we’ve talked with has seen signs of additional funding improvement and all are looking forward to seeing additional improvement again on July 1, 2014. When it comes to technology integration, updates, and providing the right tools for teachers and students, we must move forward.

Victor: Now for a broad question: What are your thoughts on education in general these days? Are we headed in the right direction, could we be doing more, thoughts about Obama/FCC billions for broadband? 

Jim: The momentum for education change and improvement is there and irreversible. Everything we can do to facilitate it and foster progress is our mission. With new personalized and collaborative interactive tools, wider access to the Internet, and great content, apps, and cloud-based opportunities. We are at a place of information exchange never seen before, and it can only move forward and become greater. I think the President is right; it is essential that we provide access to all of these learning tools, places, and resources. There is power in learning, and it is essential that all citizens are a part of it, and can participate.

Victor: Looking ahead, what does education look like 3-5 years from now?

Jim: We have a very good start, and I think we’re headed in the right direction, too. Our goal is to modify the way we think of the learning space, as well as where and how learning happens. We also feel it important to help educators discover new ways to actively motivate students, assess them each class and day, and know how to engage students at all learning levels. There certainly will be more of a cloud-base influence in all classrooms in doing that, as well as more technological give and take throughout a lesson between teacher and students. We are already thinking 3 to 5 years down the road, but we need to remember those educators and students just starting that journey, too. Professional development needs to be a part of that. We will continue to share what we know, and show what we know, to those who haven’t seen or heard it yet. In that way, followers become leaders.

Victor: Anything else you care to add or emphasize about education, technology, the leadership needed to advance us, or anything else for that matter?

Jim: I’m very privileged to be in this place right now. It is special and important to me to be at a time and place where I know that I can contribute to something so important and valuable—the education of children, and helping their teachers succeed. The next few years hold some wonderful challenges, but certainly many more magnificent accomplishments and achievements. There is no place I’d rather be.

Victor: Well alright! And thank you, Jim! 

Jim: Thank you, Victor!

Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to:

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Rugged Connections

One state’s mission to harness the power of data for student success.

GUEST COLUMN | by Judy Chappelear

CREDIT Wikipedia creative commons rmhermenLike much of the nation, Montana faces a challenging academic and economic landscape for supporting college and career readiness.  Though this is a top issue on the national agenda, it requires resources and buy-in from individual states, districts, and schools. With an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent and a high school graduation rate of 84.4 percent, Montana has seen steady improvements in its economic prospects over the past five years. There is still much work to be done, however, to close skills gaps and drive individualized student success.

Stakeholders in education – from students and parents to school administrators and state officials – need access to secure and organized student data to make informed decisions

Aligning postsecondary and high school curriculums to these job needs is imperative. 

and drive alignment between student career aspirations and statewide workforce needs.  Montana will join a growing number of states utilizing technology to forge a stronger connection between education and career success.

Fostering College and Career Readiness

We often ask sixth or seventh graders if they plan to go to college and the majority say that they do. However, by the time they are juniors in high school, that goal can be thwarted for a variety of reasons, making it tough to steer them back on course.

Research shows that academic success in high school, postsecondary retention, and career satisfaction are all related to a learner’s understanding of how his or her interests, skills, and values relate to academic and career pathways. When a student identifies the right pathway and makes good decisions about their postsecondary and career goals, it leads to higher high school graduation rates and postsecondary retention, which leads to completion and job placement.

But whose responsibility is it to guide students through this process? We too often rely on school counselors to provide information and guidance. With student-to-counselor ratios of 450+:1, it is not possible to provide personalized attention to every student.  An ongoing process is needed to support career aspirations and drive college accessibility and affordability.  Moreover, students need to understand their options and strive for success early, since 71% of projected jobs in 2020 will require some form of a postsecondary education.

Building a Skilled Workforce

The nation faces a growing need to develop a skilled workforce in order to meet the demands of our current industries and fill job openings. Montana is not exempt from this.  Although the labor market in Montana mirrors that of the national market, there are some differences. For example, in Montana, there is a greater need for skilled manufacturing workers, as well as students who pursue degrees in hospitality and healthcare.  Aligning postsecondary and high school curriculums to these job needs is imperative.  Employers and institutions must work together to equip students with the training needed to be successful, and together identify potential candidates with the skills and personalities that will be able to fill these jobs in the future.

Utilizing Technology to Overcome Challenges by Empowering Students and Administrators

In response to these challenges, Montana is taking a big step toward creating a one-stop college and career readiness environment for students and families.

Montana OPI will provide every administrator, teacher, parent and student with access to a personalized portal equipped with the tools needed to promote academic, career, and financial planning at any stage of a student’s learning.  A student will be able to combine his or her academic history with future education and career aspirations to create a personalized plan for success.  This approach helps to level the playing field by providing information and planning tools to all students and their parents, particularly benefitting the underserved populations and first-generation college students.

The portal will also allow counselors to monitor students, track cohorts, and intervene as needed. The portal further simplifies the transition from high school to college by ensuring that academic records combined with information like career aspirations, self-assessment, and extracurricular interests are readily available to postsecondary institutions for admissions consideration. Additionally, school and government stakeholders are able to monitor student outcomes, and make informed decisions regarding the improvement of education and workforce.

While Montana’s primary goal is to support student success and facilitate transitions to college, their innovative approach will ripple forward to impact the economic future of the state by providing a well-prepared workforce for employers.

Judy Chappelear is Vice President of Solutions & Strategy at ConnectEDU. The Montana Office of Public Instruction provides vision, advocacy, support, and leadership for schools communities to ensure that all students meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. The partnership between ConnectEDU and IBM is putting data into context, and comparing it across time, schools, and districts to ensure Montana’s students are on track to graduate and are college- and career-ready.

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Cool Tool | Teaching Games for Understanding App

CREDIT TGfUNicholas Stratigopoulos is a physical and health education teacher based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is a graduate from McGill University’s physical and health education program and a master’s candidate in Concordia University’s educational technology program. Through his educational apps, Nicholas encourages physical and health education teachers all around the world to enable their students to adopt a more healthy and active lifestyle. TGfU Games PE provides physical education teachers and physical activity specialists with instant access to more than 200 games and activities that can be readily incorporated into their lesson plans.TGfU is an acronym for Teaching Games for Understanding, a modern approach to teaching games in a deeper and more authentic manner, with the focus on tactical understanding and transference of strategies across games. Within the educational app, games and activities are sorted alphabetically as well as categorically by TGfU category or by sport. Each game and activity includes the recommended grade level, equipment needed, tactical problems, rules of play, safety, variations and progressions, and last but not least, a diagram. Additionally, TGfU Games PE allows users to bookmark their favorite games to a list for a quick and easy reference. Don’t know where to start? Tap or shake for a random game. Planning a lesson for a substitute teacher to run? The ability to print out games and activities makes TGfU Games PE ideal for these situations. TGfU facilitates the delivery of fun-filled and highly effective lessons for children through its comprehensive collection of games and activities. Check it out.

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Ready or Not

Four must-do’s for building next-gen wi-fi for Common Core and beyond.

GUEST COLUMN | by Kezia Gollapudi

CREDIT Aruba Oyster River School DistrictReady or not, Common Core is here now! If you are a school district getting ready to roll out the Common Core-based Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing, you might easily relate to the palpable nervousness in the air at districts across the country. The nerves are not just about student and teacher readiness for the new online assessments however. They are also about whether districts’ wireless networks will be able to meet the demands the new tests will place on network infrastructures as the primary test-taking devices students use turn from pencil and paper to Chromebooks and iPads.

Of course, while the ability to support online testing is an immediate topic of discussion, Common Core is not just assessments. It’s also about:

  •       Boosting student engagement on tablets and laptops
  •       Enlivening the new curriculum with exciting learning tools
  •       Empowering teachers in technology-rich classrooms
  •       Investing in classrooms without breaking IT budgets

If schools focus on preparing their networks to accommodate the above factors, they will be well prepared to meet the specific demands that testing will involve as well.

Boosting student engagement on tablets and laptops

As schools invest in hundreds of Chromebooks and iPads to transition to Common Core learning, it is important to ensure that students thrive on those devices in the classroom.

Recent surveys* reveal that 87% of today’s students prefer digital textbooks, 38% use social media to collaborate and communicate with teachers and classmates, and 75% play educational games regularly. Engaging this new generation of digital learners in the classroom calls for a seamless learning environment where a classroom full of students can easily and reliably get on their devices and start learning. Bad wireless network performance should not decelerate or interrupt their learning experience.

The first question school districts must ask when preparing for Common Core is whether their current wireless networks are able to support the influx of devices that are coming into their classrooms. Whether they employ a BYOD model or one based on school-issued devices, school districts must ensure their wireless infrastructures deliver the capacity and reliability required to facilitate uninterrupted mobile learning. To do this effectively, school districts should consider deploying gigabit Wi-Fi, with one 802.11ac access point (AP) per classroom. Because Gigabit Wi-Fi is designed to deliver high performance for high-density classrooms, it is well suited to handle increased network traffic as more users, devices and apps connect to classroom Wi-Fi. The result is a robust, always-on network that teachers and students can rely on.

Enliven the new Common Core curriculum with exciting learning tools

Teachers and students are increasingly using educational video and gaming applications to enrich learning. Video-based learning applications like YouTube Education, Netflix, Khan Academy and PBS Video are being integrated into traditional teaching. Even social media tools are being leveraged at middle and high schools to help students and teachers collaborate and communicate.

However, supporting these new applications and tools requires the ability to accommodate bandwidth-hungry applications and new types of traffic on the network as never before. It also requires IT departments to identify and be able to manage all the applications they have running on their networks.

To successfully conduct testing in one classroom while running HD video next door without breaking the network, IT Departments need a reliable network with smart application handling. Granular visibility and control over the applications students are using and how those apps are performing will allow district IT personnel to prioritize critical learning and testing applications over other apps. Today, smart Wi-Fi networks are able to recognize different types of traffic on a network and allow IT to assign the highest priority to more important traffic, while blocking the use of inappropriate apps and applying quality-of-service to delay-sensitive video instruction media.

This level of control over network traffic is especially critical as schools strive towards creating a controlled and predictable online testing environment.

Empower teachers to control technology in their classrooms

Digital classrooms create great opportunities but also new challenges for teachers. Allowing teachers to choose some of their classroom technologies and giving them tools to stay in control of student activity during class can help immensely in classroom management.

For example, a growing number of teachers have begun using tools like AppleTVs and Chromecast to simplify screen sharing and collaboration in their classrooms. However, these tools are consumer devices designed for home use and not for schools, so there are some inherent challenges they present. For example, if each classroom has an AppleTV, how can teachers and students easily recognize which AppleTV they should connect to? Or, what if some teachers want to completely block student access to the tool, or to grant it selectively?

What network managers need is a solution to easily manage these devices on the network by giving policy-based access and visibility to AppleTVs and other shared services to users depending on who they are, where they are and what device they are connecting with.

Another way to empower teachers is by providing them with classroom management tools that ensure students stay on task and are not easily distracted on their mobile devices. Choosing a purpose-built classroom management system from a solution provider who specializes in classroom applications can give teachers greater visibility into and control over how mobile devices are used in their classrooms. It can also allow teachers to view student device screens, co-browse, block apps and keep everyone focused on learning while in the classroom.

Invest in the classroom while staying in control of the budget

Finally, for network managers to invest in classroom technologies without breaking their budget, schools must explore and identify simple and affordable wireless solutions.

One way to build a robust wireless network while strapped for budget and manpower is choosing controllerless Wi-Fi. Controllerless Wi-Fi is comprised of access points with built-in virtual controller capabilities, thus eliminating the need to splurge on a standalone controller appliance. This approach is not only affordable and ideal for limited school budgets, it is also simple to deploy and manage – a key benefit for lean IT staffs. However, it is extremely important to ensure that the controllerless Wi-Fi selected is enterprise-grade and that there is no compromise in performance in exchange for simplicity.

Another smart investment as BYOD becomes a reality in schools is self-service capabilities that reduce IT effort. Students, teachers, staff and guests connecting to the school network with a variety of personal devices creates a tough challenge for IT. By choosing a secure self-service network access solution that simplifies device onboarding with automated self-enrollment, devices can be onboarded and network access privileges can be granted based on user roles, device types and location – all with zero IT involvement.

In summary, smart investment in a next-gen wireless network can allow school districts to not only meet their immediate Common Core network requirements, but also transform the student learning experience as a whole.

*Pearson Mobile Device Survey 2013 & From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Emergence of the K-12 Digital Learner [Project Tomorrow]

Kezia Gollapudi is a product marketing manager at Aruba Networks, a leading designer and provider of Mobility-Defined Networks empowering a new generation of tech-savvy users.

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