The Building Blocks (and 3D Printers, and Robots) of Education
With Karol Górnowicz in the Skriware laboratory.
The people behind this company, as huge technology fans, wanted to infect others with their passion and show off technology’s capabilities and versatility, especially when it comes to education. So they created an educational laboratory based on 3D printing, programming, and robotics. They included 3D printers, educational robots, building blocks, online tools for 3D modeling, and an online platform just for teachers. The lessons they devised were suitable for biology, math, geography, physics, chemistry, early education, and IT. The main goal of what they called SkriLab was to develop creativity, independent problem solving, and critical thinking skills using modern tools to create hands-on experience. They’ve done very well along these lines.
The Warsaw, Poland-based company, Skriware, is headed up by Karol Górnowicz. As his mother was a teacher, from a very young age he’s been set on changing the face of education. With the current rapid rate of technology advancements ever-accelerating, he could see that educational models worldwide weren’t quite up to solving the challenges that students face entering the future job market. His company is set on sparking student interest, igniting passion, and making education fun and productive. In this rapid-question style interview, Karol shares a glimpse into his view on education models, pedagogy, trends in STEAM, and how his company’s mission is in fact shaping the future of learning.
What is the state of education in today’s world, and while we’re at it—how does U.S. education differ from Poland?
Overall, education product development and change processes covering innovative pedagogy and the use of technology are ramping up. Polish education is centralized with major school investment budgets coming from the Ministry of Education. An important role is being played by local authorities, who manage regular budgets, and who organize purchasing tenders or encourage schools to lead individual procurement procedures. The key difference is that all schools in Poland follow one nation-wide curriculum imposed by the Ministry of Education. This one curriculum really speaks to an equitable education for everyone in the country.
What are the biggest trends you are seeing in edtech? What can the U.S. learn from other countries?
Worldwide, we are seeing more opportunities arise for students to learn and engage in hands-on STEAM education by incorporating STEAM across the curriculum.
‘Worldwide, we are seeing more opportunities arise for students to learn and engage in hands-on STEAM education by incorporating STEAM across the curriculum.’
One way schools are doing this is by offering CTE, even in the elementary grades. This is growing due to the demand for an entry- to mid-level engineering/IT workforce needed to support an increasing number of companies that are focusing on local production. Globally, we are also seeing more and more being talked about and done in the way of AI in education, both for building teacher capacity and student learning. Lastly, we are seeing more professional development for teachers around teacher and student wellbeing.
In a sentence or two—how would you describe your company’s mission?
Our mission is to make teachers great at engaging students in STEAM by supporting teachers both in curriculum delivery and in professional development. And we do this by giving students play-and-learn experiences in 21st century skills by combining manual hands-on projects with programming, 3D design, robotics and 3D printing, while providing onboarding, ready-to-go content and training support for teachers.
So very briefly, how does your solution address current challenges in schools and districts?
We boost teacher confidence and job satisfaction, we engage children in effective learning processes, and we develop a range of soft and hard skills across interdisciplinary concepts addressing virtually all curricula.
What is the biggest misconception about STEAM labs and how do you address that?
One is that the “A” in STEAM stands for “Arts”. It actually covers more, including social sciences, humanities, visual arts or even creative writing. Another misconception is that introducing STEAM at school is an easy-peasy thing to do. It is not at all however. It requires buy-in and regular involvement of teachers and students.
With lots of players in STEAM—what makes SkriLab different from other STEAM labs?
We have one system of integrated hardware, software and content that binds 3D printing with 3D design and robotics. We pay a lot of attention to the quality of content, providing teachers with extra-detailed material for curriculum delivery. Our system can work with most any peripheral devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) via web applications. SkriLab is also the perfect solution for school principals who want their school and teaching staff to grow. It increases the competences of the staff and engages both teachers and students.
How can focusing on STEAM impact future technology innovation in a country?
Students are gaining analytical, creative, practical, and social skills while focusing on STEAM. There are opportunities for students to learn how to thoughtfully problem solve, take initiative with business-focused thinking, and work in teams while taking different perspectives and compromising with classmates. This skillset helps students prepare for careers and gets them in a forward-thinking mindset as they prepare for the future.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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