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Blender in classrooms

43

Introduction To BlenderTowards the middle of last year I was contracted by Natcoll (An educational publisher) to write a book that introduces school students to Blender. After much hard work the book is now printed and is being sold to schools around the world.

 

The story of the book is a fantastic one, and highlights the commercial embrace of open source products.

Natcoll is a publisher of multimedia textbooks, and school curricula, who up until now have solely focused on creating material to help teach commercial software. As financial pressure in the education market has increased, the Open Source model has become a more attractive option. Blender presented an interesting opportunity as it is a mature and well structured package that is competing in a market with reasonably high entry costs.

Introduction to Blender contains 81 pages (39 full colour) covering the following topics:

  • Blenders Interface
  • Working with Objects
  • Mesh Modelling
  • Subdivision Modelling
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Materials
  • Texturing
  • Working with Time
  • Working with Characters

Tools are introduced, and then put into practice through short exercises. At the end of each chapter is a project for students to complete on there own, allowing them to practice all tools learnt in a free and creative context. Projects build throughout the book to create a finished 3D scene, as well as a short animation.

Introduction to Blender Spread

I loved the experience of writing the book, and learnt a lot both as an artist as well as a communicator.

If you wish to purchase a copy of the book and/or the corresponding curriculum you can do so through Natcoll's website: www.natcoll.co.nz

About Author

Doug Ollivier

I am an Industrial Design student, and Admin of Blender battles.

43 Comments

  1. Cool. It'a great asset to Blender documentation, but my only concern is this

    It's 81 pages for 36 USD. That's a bit steep in my opinion.

  2. Kuzy, the other blender books like Tony Mullen's and the blender essentials are prop round about the same price or just abit more expensive :) (in USD, be alot more in NZD =P)

  3. Cool. Anyone been to Natcoll? Might go there once I get out of High School. I am trying to get them to get blender on our computer at school. All they have is Max 6. Helps that my IT teachers are impressed with any random crap I can spew out :D

  4. My flatmate worked at Natcoll and I know several other people involved with it. It'd make a really fun place to go straight after school to get that all important piece of paper.

  5. seems like an interesting read, and was tempted to get it, but "shipping country" australia or new zealand...
    ermm uk?
    usa?
    canada?

    where are the countries?

    i dont think half the world can get this, unless its a firefox thing :P?

    //charlie
    ps.its in colour which is a lot better imho

  6. How wonderful to have another textbook for Blender. I hope schools pick up on it and start supporting open source more. Having written approximately 60 pages for my own students, I realize the extreme amount of time involved in creating clear concise instructional material. Best of luck and I hope you reap a lot of rewards in many ways.

  7. I agree with all the shipping stuff. I would love it if this book were to be shipped to the UK too. I would love to buy a copy.

  8. Looking forward to see it.

    My school will get it for me - while I question if students will invest in a 81 page book when it is at a 36 dollar price tag plus shipping.

    However again congratulations to have the book finished and looking forward to read it.

    Claas

  9. I know I haven't updated my classroom book since 2.42a, but it's still online yet as a pdf for free download from my school's site. 118 pages for those that can't foot the bill for the commercial versions. You just need to print it yourself where buying the commercial versions takes that out of the process.

    On a side note, I'm planning to do a major upgrade to mine sometime in the near future. I might wait until 2.50 comes out since time is always tight. It will still be free when it's updated :-)

  10. Byron Kindig :

    Interesting site you have. Nice wood products you're making there. I do a little woodworking also (check my site I have linked to my name).

    If you generated 60 pages about Blender for your class, that's exactly how I started with my book. Now I feel as though I have to keep it updated every few releases or so :-)

  11. My highschool had a blender and flash class, it was horrible and the teachers didn't teach, and they were computer illiterate, mac fanboys. Hopefully they buy these books.

  12. I contacted Natcoll. They will ship to Europe and the cost of book and disk plus postage is around 34 euro. They will have implemented a credit card purchase facility on their site by end of March.

  13. Hi guys,

    Thanks for your feedback, comments, and queries.

    I have just got off the phone with the publishers with the comments about shipping to other countries. They are more than happy to ship to the UK and anywhere else (they do fairly regularly), Just order it/email them and they will sort it out.

    To clarify where this book fits in relation to other offerings out there.

    Books like the essential blender, or introducing character animation, are designed to be a complete and single source of information for users learning on their own. It is for this reason that most of these books have a lot of dialogue between the author and the reader.

    Because a classroom has both a teacher and other students to bounce problems, ideas, and solutions off, a textbook book can remove much of this dialogue, allowing the teacher to play a more active roll. Natcoll has a very successful structure to meet the needs of the education market and limits all their books to 80 pages or less ( i.e photoshop elements was taught in 48 pages). The goal is not to provide an encyclopaedia, but to provide a platform, and learning structure for exploration to be founded upon.

    The page-count is very misleading in this regard. If you look at the attached page spread you will see how concise topics are. A short intro paragraph, and then a bulleted list teaching how a tool is used.

    For all those who buy the book, I would love to hear all your feedback and criticism, there are plenty of opportunities to make changes as this is a book that is likely to be regularly maintained as Blender develops.

    Cheers

  14. I only ask because it's an option to purchase it with or without and I'm wondering whether I'd be missing anything purchasing it without.

  15. I teach a small game design class that is in a sorta 'testing' phase and iam a teacher aid/student i teach basics in blender and python for game design, not too bad for a doc but nothing beats just plan experiance you learn more from a program like blender from hands on then reading, blender is a great program since it acts differently and better then anything else most likely due to the fact its in python and opensource, blender in my opinion is like a person it acts and feels like its alive it has good days and bad days and if you work with it long enough you can even figure it out (4 years going strong with blender)

  16. Hi Doug,

    Mum's a primary teacher up in AKL, and has a role managing the art curriculum for her school- have passed on the link, with the proviso she send me a copy :-p

    Cheers, Nick

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