2019 Campus Technology Spotlight

Student Centered Learning with Transformative Technologies

New Remote Access 3D Printing Empowers Student Learning

The College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) recently stepped into a new era of using technology to bring remote capability to 3D printing. Students can use the equipment any time, from almost anywhere, whether they're at home or on campus, as long as they can access the Internet.

3D printing can be time intensive, taking five hours or more per project. CAPLA laboratory manager, Paulus Musters found that students would often send their project to print and walk away. If problems occurred with their design and printing was not stopped, the printer could get congested with excess material and be unavailable to use for days.

To resolve this, Musters collaborated with an innovative national Maker team to develop a cloud application that accesses the 3D printer. Now students can watch their printing via their mobile device. If an error occurs, they can use the app to immediately halt the printer and resubmit their project once they have resolved the design issue.

Another challenge for students was physical access to 3D printers. Before this new technology was implemented, students would have to physically come to the lab to start their 3D printing project. Although the lab is available 24 hours daily, if students printed after hours, they needed to contact an employee to help them gain access to the lab to setup and retrieve their project. With the new remote access feature, students no longer have to wait. They have what they need “on demand.”

Mr. Musters sees a lot of success with the addition of the software and remote capabilities for students. 

“What I wanted to do is give them control and the knowledge to control the 3D printers. Before now, we had to hire a hands-on person to interface with the printers. But now the students themselves will operate the machine. They have become active participant as they learn about it and do it. They're in charge of it all!

- Paulus Musters, CAPLA Lab Manager

Students collaborating in a science lab

"Students are charged by the hour for use of the 3D printers. This charge is very inexpensive, but the charge encourages students to optimize their printing. Sometimes a student will bring in a print job that will need 24 hours to print. With the software program, we are able to optimize the structure and often get the print time down to 8 hours instead."

Paulus Musters

Our Job Is to Make Higher Education Accessible And Technology Helps Us Do That. The Manner in Which We Teach Helps With Making Education Accessible To All Students.

Students meeting around a table laughing

"We are absolutely dedicated to having a diverse student population. The technologies that we implement are all around getting students to engage and be able to participate fully in their programs without regard to their physical location or physical capabilities."

Michael Griffith, Director, Instructional Learning technologies, College of Education

The College of Education wanted to provide a richer learning experience and increase the level of engagement for in-person and remote students.

To create a true student-centered learning environment, Michael Griffith, director of instructional and learning technology with the College of Education, recently introduced a telepresence robot that integrates into Zoom software.

The Kubi is a robotic neck attached to a tripod, that holds an iPad with a directional microphone and speaker through which a student can be video-conferenced into a classroom. The remote students can control the iPad’s direction to focus on whatever they want and interact with the class.

Griffith is pleased with the high engagement level of the classroom’s remote students using Kubi robots. He explains, “The important thing is its all student centered. If they want to look at the projected material on the slides, or want to turn to their classmate they can. We knew we had the right technology mix when remote students started connecting early so they could talk to their friends in the hall before class.”

It takes time for the remote student to get used to the controls and it takes time for in-class students to get used to having participants who is not physically present. Griffith explains that success is when students stop seeing the robot and they start seeing their classmates.