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Distanced Learning projects during lockdown with Onshape.

huw_gulletthuw_gullett Member Posts: 6 EDU
Now the academic year has finally ended, I have time to look back and reflect on the work my students have done in comparison to other years. In March 2020 my year 9 students were just begining a project where they would have ended up making a laser cut veneer inlay plywood box that would have been through 3 iterations. But their first task was a hand cut comb joint (old school skills), It is the best way of allowing students to come to the realisation that CAD/CAM makes their work easier and more accurate, whilst also highlighting some of the Do's and Don'ts. My year 10's had just completed the Vex mechanisms unit, team assembly and disassembly of a machine. They were looking at the Vex parts and focusing on tolerances, ready to build seperate parts of the machine and then share the parts to replicate in onshape the real thing. My year 11's OCR Engineering Design group were just coming to the final iteration of their powerbank design project ready to complete the evaluation.

And then a Global Pandemic threw us all a curved ball. Online learning was the important focus! and soon after Predicted grades!

All of the years had completed projects using Onshape in class, so all were at different stages of learning, but they had knowledge of how to do the basics and had completed work outside of school hours. They had also all learnt how to share their work and it's importance to their learning. However, it's always been said 'Take nothing for granted!'. The students first task set was to refresh their learning with Youtube videos and the Learning centre video on https://learn.onshape.com/learn/video/onshape-essentials.

Year 9 started with basic block model building of Joints, comb joint, Halvings, Mortice and tenon and a dovetail joint. Extension challenge for my G&T animate it! They then moved onto a gumball dispenser. Working from a drawing found on pinterest. I made one as their drawing to work from. This took a number of weeks as they had other 'theory' work to complete. The benefit of the 'share' facility became apparent, not just of a monitoring tool, to see who was / wasn't submitting work. This lead to letters and phonecalls, I even had a conference call with a student and both parents as one acted as PA writing instructions and notes and the other acting as IT support whilst the student completed the work. The share was also good for allowing students to ask for clarification and help, I used the 'Follow' mode to be able to show them where they needed to change elements or dimensions. Their final tasks were to make a 100x100x50 Plywood box and lid, then adapt it to be 100x100x100mm with a tray in the lower half.

Year 10 started with a review of the essentials, but they also had coursework to prepare for. They would have been starting on their USB Bullet charger analysis. Their usual starting point is a disassemble of one drawing, measuring and analysing the construction/ design/ manufacture. Alongside their theory/ research work they had to find a Charger unit and try to model one - solid first (no interior). After this they worked on Hollowing, splitting and creating a lip and groove around the edges. Different students achieved different levels of success, failure is also a good learning tool and it is here Onshape helps. All is not lost! being able to go back through their work versions and history allows highlighting where and when changes could be made to achieve success. Some year 10's surprised me by making other projects - roll cage for a stock car that they were building, Fidget spinner and even a bunker?!? who am I to complain!

My year 11's continued with their OCR Engineering Design unit R107 the CAD development of their power bank built around the USB charger circuit. For many they had also exported their Onshape designs and had 3D print offs for unit R108. Even when they were off the 'share' facility allowed me to 3D print their work without them needing to be there. I just photographed it being done. Then came the announcement that OCR did not need us to submit the work!. However, I emailed the ones going onto 6th form engineering courses, encouraging them to finish their portfolio for future use in interviews. Because of their work up to that point it made predicting a grade for their work so much easier for me, 'they and I had the evidence!'.

I and many others have had to work differently over the past four months. The online learning powerpoints with voice overs, the key worker childrens activities in school, working through holidays and half term, the emails and checking work submitted, letters, phonecalls, Teams meetings with staff and students, Turning the workshop into a manufacturing suite for faceshields then screens. But for me the highlight has always been looking at and helping students through Onshape, it really made a difference to my students and the connection was good for my mental health aswell as theirs.

How far behind with the work are we though? That will only become evident when we start back full time. Many students submitted work, but there were students who did not have the same facilities as others. There has been much debate about IT disadvantaged families, those who still have not got broad band or only have one computer between all in the family. For those getting 'their time' on the computer was an issue, one which my school is looking to erradicate over the next year. But with Onshape cloud based, students did not need their own software, and its costs, parents were amazed at the work the students were doing and we will continue to use Onshape.

For me - I need to improve my skills! I'm just scratching the surface of what I know it can do. But then it's a balancing act between everything I need to do. Looking back I'm glad we are using Onshape, I'm glad this is my first real day off in four months (even though I'm posting) giving me time to reflect. But as to rest? nope... Meeting with HME technology, UK later this week, looking at how onshape helps students design for the Union CNC router. My year 11's created their powerbank foam models using it, the quality was fantastic, and quicker than 3D printing.

Now that we have time to reflect, what did others do?


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    Domenico_DDomenico_D Member, Onshape Employees Posts: 59 EDU
    @huw_gullet Thanks so much for giving us a view into your classrooms. It is really cool to see how you are using Onshape with so many different grades and to hear about all the projects you use it for. 

    As an engineer on the PTC Academic Team I was inspired after reading your post to share a bit of an inside look into our team and how the crisis has changed things for us as well.

    As you may or may not know, at the beginning of November 2019 PTC acquired Onshape. The academic team was immediately very excited about the potential of this tool in the academic space if more people were aware. Onshape already had a similar feel/user experience to Google Docs and other intuitive software that students use. We also believe that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the future for not just industrial applications but the educational space too. 

    Once Onshape became part of PTC we began planning our strategy for spreading the word about the free standard education plan. Then, suddenly, the pandemic hit and accelerated the need for SaaS tools. All of PTC's offices closed as schools transitioned to remote learning. There were a lot of hurdles to get used to working from home, but we knew educators needed a tool to help STEM classrooms keep learning remotely. So, we continued to try and spread the word about the free Onshape Education Standard Plan.

    PTC is also a big supporter of FIRST and we were saddened to hear that they had to cancel the rest of their season. To help teams keep their skills sharp and collaborate from home, the Academic team came up with the Robots to the Rescue Design challenge for FRC and FTC teams. Teams were tasked to design a robot that solved a problem facing the world. You can check out the top teams here. We were really impressed with the over 150 submissions! I graded many of the bots and it was great to see the level of effort and the inventive ideas students came up with.

    Another big project for the team was creating more content to help instructors set up their classrooms in Onshape and share their stories/success. One way we did this was through webinars that we hosted like Onshape for the K12 Classroom and Onshape for the University Classroom. 

    Our latest project has been creating Onshape Education Enterprise. As more schools and universities transitioned to Onshape, we wanted a way for institutions to have greater administrative control and the ability to quickly add hundreds of users. 

    That's what we are up to! We are trying to help educators as best as we can. If there's anything we can can do to help you and your class feel free to reach out to us.

    I'd love to hear more about how other instructors have pivoted to online/remote teaching and how you are using Onshape for projects. 
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