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Why Your Classroom Needs Blender


CG Cookie's Pavla Karon talks to several teachers about their use of Blender in their classes.

Pavla writes:

Less than a decade ago, only a few would have predicted that Blender is eventually going to make its way to classrooms as a tool of choice for teaching students how to create in 3D. It certainly wasn’t love at first click for Tony; “About 8 years ago when I first looked at Blender, it wasn’t at a stage where I could use it in a class yet; it was simply too confusing and not user-friendly.” But that was about to change: “3 years ago, I came across Blender again and saw how far it has evolved. I decided to give it a shot and use it with my students instead of Autodesk software.”

Tony isn’t alone: more and more teachers from K-12 to university level are introducing Blender to their classrooms...

Have you ever taught using Blender, or maybe you were lucky enough to join a class where you could use is? Please share your stories!


  1. Reading the article, you'll find: "An added benefit of Blender is the fact that it runs even in computer labs with older hardware. “Teachers who turn to Blender are grateful that it doesn’t require expensive hardware to run,” says Jonathan."

    ... and sadly, this is going to change, as I tried to say here:

    starting from 2.77, but more with 2.8, Blender will become more demanding on the machine...

    • True, but you can't stay in the past forever, either. From what I understand so far, 10 year old hardware will still run Blender fine, right? That sounds fair to me, to be honest.

      • Yes, you can't stay in the past, but you can also shape many different futures, acting differently.

        I'll check how old your pc can be when 2.77+ and 2.8 will be released: you may need, soon to have a discrete and recent graphics card, I fear, to start Blender. And sometimes with a new release Cycles drop older ones, let alone those integrated Intel cards tipically found on a low budget school pc.

        But frequently Ton talks about a project he has since long, "Blender 101", aimed to begginners, children and schools, but Blender "core" is becoming more and more state-of -the-art-only, a quite different direction, since it needs more powerful hardware. I know it's not simple, or even possible, but a more modular approach could be ideal, like "older hardware, less power, latest hardware, best power".

        Of course if a school drops Autodesk for Blender has powerful enough pcs in the classroom, and money enough.

        • "I'll check how old your pc can be when 2.77+ and 2.8 will be released"

          I think that would be great information to have, and it would certainly benefit this discussion. It might even be worth a full post here on the site, let me know :)

    • It will be sad to see newer versions leave older computers behind, but I'm pleased that all of the old versions are still available. It means I can still teach folks with older hardware the basics of using Blender. Most of what is created with the older versions can be revisited and improved later when hardware upgrades are finaly possible.

  2. I'm very glad to hear Ton has thought about a simplified Blender. For Blender to truly succeed in education, it desperately needs a 'beginner' switch on the splash screen, whereby the interface turns into an attractive theme with a stripped down set of controls, preset materials library, a few preset camera positions, etc. There you learn all the essentials, and only when you're proficient do you switch to 'standard mode' and see physics, Python, nodes, graph editor, etc. Until then, Blender remains far too intimidating, especially for most children under about 12-14 years.

    School IT decisions are often very ill-informed, so they need to hear about Blender before an Autodesk salesperson makes them believe they are getting a 'special educational discount'! If Ton wants to start a separate fund for printing millions of promotional leaflets to send to every school, I'll certainly donate. A colourful A3 poster in your hand gets noticed far more than an email.

    • You can already achieve this to some extent by creating your own startup file, and some Python coding for simplified custom panels. It would be interesting to see people's ideas about how a 'simplified' Blender should look!

  3. I help with the technical ends of teaching middle schoolers 3D animation. Unfortunately this is too cumbersome in blender at the moment. I really look forward to 2.8 and it's programmable interface. People who want to tell stories through 3D need something like poser or DAZ where all low level buttons that screw everything up are hidden(they are middle schoolers after all). Don't get me wrong, I make assets for them in blender and I love it, and teaching a kid to make a turtle is one thing. Getting them excited by teaching them to swim turtles around and having them talk to one another is another and blender just isn't there yet. We are really excited that poser has integrated cycles as firefly render engine as this makes moving assets in to poser's kid friendly animation interface from blender MUCH more seemless.

  4. I'm currently using Blender in a postproduction course that I teach in a videogames school in Barcelona ( ) . Turns out that the students learned 3DSMax before, but didn't go beyond modelling, and provided that my supervisors gave me freedom about the software to use in my classes, i decided to go with Blender and teach postproduction with Blender along with its bindings with 3D.

    By now the students find interesting to know another software to add to their CV. They already know the basis of the Blender, creating objects, the "triad" G, R and S, but we still have to practise a lot in "real world". Currently we are diving on narrative and so, using the VSE. In some weeks we'll start with the node editor and learn the basics to do compositing keys, tracking, and using particle systems and other ways to do special effects.

  5. I taught Blender at TDT University in Saigon, Vietnam last year and we are planning to do another beginner's course and hopefully two advanced courses for ARCHVIZ and Product Visualization this year. The students enjoyed the class even though English is their second language and many picked Blender up quickly. You can see our class FB page here:

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