MAKING MAKERS FREE: At ISTE 2015 this morning, Autodesk announced the release of new—and free—maker curricula for teachers and students. The company now offers three design thinking and modeling courses for students through iTunesU, along with an iBook to promote the power of sketching in the classroom and teach students about the company’s sketching software. These tools augment the previously-released Autodesk Design Academy and Autodesk’s suite of free tools for educators, teachers and institutions.
Together, these materials support maker education and professional skills training for students interested in design careers. According to Jaime Perkins, Senior Manager of Education at Autodesk, the company now provides “content that gets students interested in design, skills around design thinking...and the software to build real-life solutions.” Perkins also noted that the company is exploring iTunesU as a way to distribute additional lessons beyond the first three courses. Autodesk plans to update the Design Academy with new content monthly.
While all of Autodesk’s tools are free for students and teachers to use, some of the equipment (think 3D printers) can be expensive. According to Perkins, the company does not currently offer programs to defray the cost of equipment, but one educator was able to offer tips from her experience. Karen Kaun, the Founder & President of Makeosity (an after-school program where students have used Autodesk software to design a scooter that charges a cell phone as it rides) advised educators on a number of ways to procure the necessary funding: Makeosity has developed partnerships with local design firms to provide 3D printers and materials. Kaun also recommended searching for local grants or asking for money on DonorsChoose.