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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

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GUEST ARTICLE

Technology Education can flourish with Sketchup

Educators across the world are calling for a heightened focus on technology education. The reason is obvious. Computers aren't just the future, they are the present. Computer literacy, like reading literacy a century ago, is a necessary condition for success in today's economy.

So how do you get students, with so many other distractions and interests, engaged into the world of geeks and programmers? The answer: design.

Art and Design open the computing world to an entire new swath of individuals who, until this time, had little use for computers beyond email and word. Computer design is a catalyst that teachers can use to finally get Johnny away from chat and into actual computer learning. But new habits and skills don't come easy - enter Sketchup.

Sketchup is an incredibly simple to use, intuitive, platform for first time 3D designers to get their feet wet. Encouraging Sketchup, and various activities on Sketchup, translates into light bulbs going off - the kids start to understand just what a computer can enable them to do and many of them get lost in the experience. It is exciting to see.

Anything teachers can do to make Sketchup more real helps immensely - both to make Sketchup relevant but also as an advanced teaching technique. Bridging the computer design world with real world objects is important. Students can now see that clicks on their mouse translate into something they can touch, see and feel in their actual world. This kind of feedback encourages more activity as well as solidifies learning in the brain. Tools, such as "Waybe" (www.waybe.ca), as well as 3D printers, are excellent ways to enable this computer to real world bridging.

Sketchup is a powerful tool in the quiver of technology educators. Effective use of Sketchup can encourage students, many of whom would not engage with computers, to get excited and lost in the world of computer design. By encouraging first time computer designers, and providing them with effective bridges to the real world, technology education can be made exciting and tremendously useful to the students throughout their lives.

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