Welcome to BuiltOnAir, a podcast and video series about all things Airtable. Each episode, we talk with someone active in the Airtable community to discuss their experiences and showcase an interesting way they’ve used Airtable in their work.
This week we welcome Patrick Ford, a media developer in the maker space at Anderson University in South Carolina. His work there involves designing learning experiences for their students and faculty, and helping them integrate technology into their education.
Patrick started out studying as a media developer in college, then got a job building handrails for a company after he graduated. During his time working he learned a variety of design skills and software including CAD and Sketch, which made for a great background of experience for his current work at Anderson University (AU).
His work in the CIDL of the university includes both support for their technology needs and educating people on both what to do and what they can do with the tech. Their department has 3d printers, laser cutters, a podcast booth, AR and VR tech, and more. Each item is part of Patricks work in helping the students be on the cutting edge of learning with technology. He loves to show faculty how their inventory can go beyond the normal approach to transferring knowledge and facilitate a more in-depth learning experience.
Patrick talks about “modular learning,” an approach to education that allows a student to choose what classes or content they want or need to learn, and focus on the highest priorities for their goals. It also gives students the opportunity to prepare for jobs that may or may not exist at the time they start college.
Airtable came into the picture as Patrick was exploring IFTT (“If This, Then That”) and was intrigued by how it was described as a “relational database” at the time. What started as simple experimentation with shopping lists and home organization led to him building multiple databases for use at the maker space of AU..
The base Patrick shares is a Makerspace Manager used at CIDL. It’s designed to collect and track bookings at the maker space, and has tables for users, machines and spaces, and a reservation system for when people want to take time with the resources at CIDL. The database makes great use of forms for making bookings or reserving inventory, and calendars to check availability of rooms and equipment.
Patrick also shares an infographic he created using the Blocks feature of Airtable, showing stats from the AU maker space during a given semester, including user growth, demographics, total reservation hours, and more. It’s served as a great way to watch how their work is growing and how they’re helping people learn.
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