Thursday, May 28, 2015

Using TinkerCad with Students Under 13

Navigating a  3D world can seem pretty overwhelming to someone like me who has not spent as much time as today's students leveling up in 3D gaming environments.  However, today's students are much more comfortable finding their way around in a 3D world, so why not let them create in 3D with one of the most user friendly digital tools for 3D modeling ~ TINKERCAD.  

Photo Credit:  Kevin Jarrett
Why TinkerCad!  It's not only a very user friendly and powerful 3D creation tool, but it also  works on both personal computers and Chromebooks!   Don't take my word for it,  check out Kevin Jarrett's first graders using TinkerCad in the  K-4 STEM Lab at Northfield Community Elementary School.  

Although it is very accessible,  there is one barrier for teachers who want to quickly get started using Tinkercad  by AutoDesk with students under 13.  In order to be COPPA compliant when using Tinkercad,  students under 13  need to be approved (thus supervised)  by a parent or teacher.   If a student under 13 signs up to use TinkerCad, they will be able to navigate the beginning lessons, but will not be able to save their work until approved. 

Thankfully AutoDesk has streamlined this process. First of all, students under 13 will automatically be asked for a parent email address and an email will automatically be sent to the parent email address.  This step helps to streamline the process,  but there are still challenges for students whose parents don't have email  or for students whose parents don't get around to "approving' their students in a timely manner. 

Luckily AutoDesk has provided some avenues to help teachers with this challenge and quickly get  their students up and running using TinkerCad. 

#1 AutoDesk has included in their terms of service a reference to the fact that in some circumstances, teacher consent can be used in lieu of a parent.   Thank you, to AutoDesk for taking the extra step to include this phrase in Tinkercads terms of service.  This is very helpful for teachers who are working hard to be responsible users/educators while using innovative digital tools with their students. consent in lieu of a parentFor school-based activities, COPPA allows teachers and school administrators to act in the place of parents to provide consent for the collection of personal information from children. Schools should always notify parents about these activities.In some cases, in order that an account is not closed and so that a child can continue to use a website or application outside of the school context, we may ask schools to obtain consent directly from a parent instead of and/or in addition to providing consent in the place of a parent.For more information on parental rights with respect to a child’s educational record under the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), please see the FERPA section below.

#2  AutoDesk has created an environment where teachers can easily manage (and approve) their students and QUICKLY get started teaching their students how to model in 3D.   If you have not discovered it yet,  check out Project IGNITE by AutoDesk.    In less than 15 minutes, I helped a middle school math teacher create an account on AutoDesk and set up two classes he was planning to teach later that day using TinkerCad.   But the dashboard for quick and easy classroom management is not the best part about Project IGNITE -- the BEST part is the fantastic ready made  self-paced lessons (aka Projects) that teachers can assign to the students.     

#3  Once a teacher has approved his/her students using the Project IGNITE classroom dashboard,  the students can immediately get started with PROJECTS that the teacher has assigned as lessons to each  classroom section of Project IGNITE.  Students can also move right over to TINKERCAD  and use their newly approved  account to create their own free form designs on the TinkerCad work plane.  Simply have your students access after having logged into their Project IGNITE account.  As a professional educator,  I would still make sure that my students' parents are engaged with the process of 'co-supervising' their child's account and have developed strategies to do that in my schools.  But by starting with Project IGNITE first, and then moving over to TinkerCad's free form space,  teachers can start using TinkerCad with students the same day!

And as an enthusiastic eager teacher who likes to use innovative digital tools with students, I am much appreciative of everything AutoDesk has done to streamline the process of using this powerful tool in our classrooms with even our youngest learners.  The process is well thought out and provides a streamlined workflow that removes barriers for teachers who want to use TinkerCad with younger learners. 

Note:  The Project IGNITE lessons are quite text heavy and might be challenging for struggling readers and would not be the best entry-point for our youngest learners.  Even with my middle school students I suggest toggling back and forth with the tutorial mode of Project IGNITE and some open-ended exploration and teacher demonstrations directly in TinkerCad.  

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