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OITP, Benetech to collaborate at SXSWedu 2016

2016 January 30
by Charlie Wapner

In September, I wrote about the great work that a Silicon Valley-based organization called Benetech is doing to level the playing field for students with disabilities through the use of 3D printing technology. I also mentioned that Benetech had proposed a program for the 2016 SXSWedu conference highlighting their work to this end. I’m happy to report that Benetech’s program has received the imprimatur of the South-by-selectors and will be included in the Conference’s slate of “Playground Talks” – short presentations highlighting discovery-based learning activities.

During the talk, entitled “No More Yoda Heads: 3D printing 4 diverse learners,” Benetech’s Lisa Wadors Verne will highlight her organization’s ongoing efforts to build a coalition between libraries, museums and schools that encourages the use of innovative 3D printed tools to place learners of all abilities on an even keel. It will be my honor to join Dr. Wadors Verne and discuss how the library community can and should participate in such a coalition. As I will be representing ALA’s policy office, I will also underscore the importance of ensuring that decision makers inside the beltway and elsewhere allow for the development and adoption of “leveling” 3D printed learning tools to continue unfettered.

Here’s the program description, as submitted to SXSW:

Research suggests that 3D objects are important for learning and reinforcing complex spatial concepts that are difficult to convey or explore in any other way (e.g., cells and DNA). Although many schools have access to 3D printing technology, many machines are underutilized and used to print novelty items. In this session, learn about new collaborations with libraries and museums to help support teachers in providing multi-modal access to complex STEM topics as well as utilizing student talent to create innovative learning tools.

Props to Benetech…And many thanks for bringing libraries with them to Austin. I invite folks in the library community to provide me with any thoughts or examples that may be used at this session and beyond. Also, ALA and OITP specifically will be otherwise present at SXSW, so stay tuned for further details!

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