Overview about 3D printing and inclusion


Why would I want this in my classroom?

The research in the field of didactic indicates that the implementation of 3D printers in the classroom increases the students digital competence, the teachers digital competence, the creation of assistive technologies, and improves collaborative learning between the students with disability and students without disability. In this project we deal with the implementation of 3D printers in inclusive education as well as using 3D printers as a tool for collaborative education for students with disability and students without a disability. Implementation of 3D printing in special and inclusive education can have the following benefits: flexible and adaptive methods of presentations, as well as engagement, different types of expression and perception which could be adapted to different abilities. The big advantage of implementing 3D printers in education is:
  • they are getting easier and easier to use
  • they allow teachers to produce and adapt material for students (Wonjin et all. 2016).
In special and inclusive education 3D printers could be used to teach students with disabilities like motor, cognitive, and visual impairments, as well as in combination of these three disabilities (Ford & Minshall, 2017).

Motor impairments

Motor impairments such as quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, neuropathy, or muscular atrophy usually require different assistive tools and technologies to allow people the solving of educational as well as everyday routine tasks. 3D printers can be used for the production of different types of assistive tools to support the learning experience of students with motor impairments. One example was presented in the study of Buehler, Kane, Hurst (2015) where a stylus grip was developed and produced for students which have limitations grasping items by using a 3D printer. In their work they created a model which helped their students by the following steps: 1. They had a student grab clay as the student would grab an object 2. The clay formed by the grab was 3D scanned and turned into a 3D model 3. The 3 model was print using a 3D printer 4. The print was covered by rubber using an aerosol spray to soften the texture Afterwards, it was usable by the student. The student was asked for an opinion on the assistive tool. By the opinion of the student the model which they printed with 3D printers was more suitable then other silicon or rubber models which the student had already used. Some of the rubber models were even rather expensive, worth more than 150 $. Researchers Hofmann, Harris, Hudson, Mankof (2016) conclude that 3D printers could be used as tools for printing different types of models which could be used as assistive tools for people with limited upper limb movement. One of the major advantages of digital fabrication for people with disabilities is that it is computer controlled (xx). With appropriate accessibility software/hardware, a disabled person can do things that they would be physically unable to do using traditionally fabricated equipment (Hurst &Kane, 2013). One example of a 3D printed model which was printed by the author of this paper is presented on the photo 1. The aim of this 3D printed model is to help students with limited grasp abilities to hold a pencil in order to write as well as to simplify tipping on keyboards. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1058000

Cognitive impairments

The implementation of 3D printers and 3D printed models in education can have positive effects on technical, communication and collaborative skills of students with cognitive disabilities as well (Buehler, Kane, Hurst 2014). Buehler et all. (2014), indicate that the implementation of 3D printers in formal and informal education can help students with cognitive impairments to improve their ability to work with computer files, to search for resources online, and to write e-mails, as well as practice spatial reasoning. In the same research they suggest the preparation of notecards with instructions which are supposed to help the students with cognitive impairments to access data. Results of the study (Frauenberger, Spiel & Makhaeva, 2019) indicate that the implementation of new approaches in education or communication with student’s with cognitive impairments should be related with their previous tools and experience. The research in this are indicate the implementation of digital fabrication in education of students with cognitive impairments is combination their everyday activity, scanning, and printing, in the collaborative process between disable students, educators and pears (Frauenberger, Spiel & Makhaeva, 2019; Taylor & Hurley 2016). With implementation this rolls the researchers Frauenberger, Spiel & Makhaeva, 2019 are successfully create several 3D models with a 8 years old autistic student. Huge number of paper indicate the combination of 3d printed models in education of the student with dyslexia can help them in diminution of their effects. One example of 3D printed model which printed by the author of this paper as presented on the photo 2. The aim of this 3D printed model is to help to students with dyslexia to concentrate in the one or two sentence during the reading. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2802065

Visual impairments

Visual impairments are one of the disabilities which allow a lot of possibility for implementation of 3D printers and 3D models in educational purposes. With 3D printers could be printed learning models, graphics from different teaching subjects. With implementation of models in education of blind and visually impaired can be increased their interest for learning STEM content in the school, because they have possibility to sensually explore the teachin contend (Similarly, Kane and Bigham, 2014). Result of the researchers Giraud, Brock, Mace, Jouffrais (2017), indicate the visually impaired students which teaching content from geography and history with implementation of 3D printed models has a better spatial and textual knowledge from this subject then a students which the same content learn with implementation of raised line maps printed on swell paper. This results are in the line with results of other researcher which conclude the small-scale models which could be 3D printed are an good alternative to RLMs for acquiring spatial knowledge in the absence of vision (Picard and Pry 2009; Brock et al., 2015; Giraud et all 2017). Implementation of 3D printed models in education more than other textual and hearing methods increase visually impaired person’s memory, imagination and desire of learning, because 3D models provide them sensual perception of learning content (Wonjin et all. 2016). The same researchers conclude the 3D printers provide possibility for the teachers to print schemes, graphs and picture from the books and on that way create tangible materials for visually impaired students Stangl, Kim, & Yeh, 2014). On the photo 3 are represented Braille Periodic Table of elements which could be used as better understanding chemical content. All chemical elements at the model are market on Braille letter. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:59275