Recently, I had a mostly enjoyable experience doing an assignment for class where we plan out a remodel of our classroom. Part of the assignment was to use the program SketchUp to create a 3D model of our renovated classroom. My finished product looked like this:
As with any of the tools that we use (especially free ones), it has its perks (affordances) and quirks (constraints). The program is capable of creating phenomenal 3D renderings (including files that can be used by 3D printers). It also has an ever expanding catalog of different objects that can be imported into the program via the 3D Warehouse seen below.
Additionally, it has a wide array of tools that can be used (above). There seems to be a tool for virtually everything you might need as you create your object. When you click on a tool, you are given directions as to what that tool does off to the left of the screen. I’ve included the instructions for the Push/pull tool.
As with anything there are constraints with the tool as well. It can be highly frustrating. Part of the problem is that it was designed to be used with a mouse with a wheel, where I was trying to use my mouse pad. This caused issues with placing objects such as windows in the wall as they should be or with floating furniture.
Another constraint is that it needs to be downloaded. Therefore, it won’t be usable on Chromebooks, which is the tool of choice for my school and many others.
It is a valuable and powerful tool (particularly if you look at the price). If you have regular laptops and time to allow students to play around, this could be a fantastic tool to allow them to be creative, think spatially, and problem solve.
What do you think? Is this something that you could use with students? Have you used it before? I’d love to hear your feedback.
All images are screeshots taken by the author of SketchUp.