just because you can doesn’t mean you should


i love 3D printing. i’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do as we rewrite our technology/design curriculum for the coming school year, and really excited about a future that might have everyone able to design and print things instead of going to a store and buying them.

but we need to be careful about a lack of creativity that might come with that. this shouldn’t be about copying, but about creating and sharing. as teachers, we should already be spending a lot of time talking to our students about licensing, creative commons, and attribution — and to date, that’s probably been all discussed around the written word, photos, and videos. but this has to become an issue with printable items.

i saw this awesome 3D-printed mashup of optimus prime and mr. potato head on the ISTE12 exhibit floor yesterday. the problem is that it already exists, and this is likely the ABS plastic equivalent of a times square elmo — it sort of looks right, but it’s legit, and no permission was given to use the likeness. where’s the licensing? the attribution?

we have to encourage our students to create instead of copy. instead of creating knock-off lego blocks, they should be designing things like the free univeral connection kit, making something good even better.

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