May 2, 2016

New Dimensions

Visualizing, designing and making in 3D are our future.”
-          Ed Tech Next Report

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) has released their latest  Ed Tech Next report “Dimensions in Learning: Visualizing, Designing, and Making in 3D.” The report focuses on the growth and potential of 3D in education.

CoSN is a leading international professional association for district technology leaders, representing over 10 million students in school districts nationwide and is a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.

Once or twice a year, CoSN releases their well-respected Ed Tech Next report. Ed Tech Next reports are periodic publications which examine hot emerging technologies. Designed for busy professionals, these reports provide quick snapshots of rapidly changing fields, followed by succinct summaries of the issues as well as discussion questions or case studies to guide organizational thinking. CoSN’s EdTechNext reports are supported by a pantheon of companies: Amplify, BestBuy, CDW.G, Cisco, Comcast, Dell, ENA, Filewave, Google, HP, iBoss Security, iDentityAutomation, Ipswitich, itslearning, JAMF Software, Juniper Networks, Lenovo, Lightspeed Systems, McGraw Hill, Microsoft, Pearson, Presidio, Promethean, Qualcomm, SchoolDude, Sprint, and Verizon.

The report focuses on 3D in education. (In bringing full disclosure to the table, I am one of the two co-authors of this report. The other author is Chad Norman, who serves as the K-12 Highly Capable Program Director for the Mount Vernon School District in Washington state.)

The report, as the title indicates, focuses on the three “learning families” of 3D in education: designing in 3D, visualizing in 3D, and making in 3D. Each of these components is supported in some measure by the projector, large display, and mobile display technology industry.
The report suggests that 3D technologies sit at the bedrock of the coming digital learning revolution:
[The same] struggles and achieve­ments mark the progress of civiliza­tion. People observe, conceptualize and understand, laboring to think, plan, design and solve and struggling to fix, build, tear down, retool, reinvent—and do it all again. The digital revolution has not lessened our ingrained desire to understand, interact with and challenge the immersive world. In fact, these age-old strivings continue as we use new digital environments to visualize, design and construct our way through life, learning and work. Enter 3D technologies. 3D—origi­nally a trademark of the artisan’s stall, the architect’s bench, the gamer’s con­sole, the blockbuster cinema or the engineer’s display—is rapidly moving to the newest sandbox for learning, hashtag, the digital classroom.

The report claims that 3D merits consideration for its educational value proposition, not its “wow” factor. “In other words, what matters is the potential for improved learning with 3D technologies, not merely the pizzazz of 3D visualization, design or printed objects.” The report then goes on to cite recent research indicating the benefits of 3D technologies for visualizing, designing and making; numerous industry players in the world of 3D in education; and a rich list of available resources and references.

To obtain more information about this report, or to explore CoSN membership, see http://www.cosn.org/ed-tech-next-reports


April 25, 2016

Why, not 'wow'

While the familiar 3D nomenclature begins to fade, and the equally 3D “virtual reality” meme slowly takes its place, some things stay the same. And something needs to be said.  3D—whether in its printed, video, or virtual reality incarnation—merits consideration for its educational value proposition, not its “wow” factor. In other words, what matters is the potential for improved learning with 3D technologies, not merely the pizzazz of 3D visualization, design or printed objects. Remember, as relates to learning, the Why always trumps the Wow.

April 18, 2016

3D Shufti: Freebies

‘Shufti’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘look!’ It was brought back to Britain after the Second World War by returning soldiers who learned the word from Arab peddlers. Its meaning now suggests taking a quick look around. That’s the purpose of the previous four posts and the current post—taking a 3D shufti—a speedy reconnoiter of some happenings in the area of educational 3D.


Free Software Downloads for Educators and Students

Autodesk is now providing a full range of 3D production software to the educational community free of charge. Check it out for yourself here

April 11, 2016

The LinkedIn 3D Surge

‘Shufti’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘look!’ It was brought back to Britain after the Second World War by returning soldiers who learned the word from Arab peddlers. Its meaning now suggests taking a quick look around. That’s the purpose of this and next week's posts—taking a 3D shufti—a speedy reconnoiter of some happenings in the area of educational 3D.

Many of you know that I am the online community manager for the Stereoscopic 3d Media and Technology group on LinkedIn. By the way, we renamed the special interest group in order to keep up with the 3D VR movement. It is now the LinkedIn Stereoscopic 3d and VR Media and Technology group.


I’ve noticed an interesting development over the last four or five months, a definite wave. We’ve seen a sudden surge of 3D, VR, and production professionals joining our ranks at the clip of a dozen a week, after a two-year lull. Lots of new faces. New companies. New VR content divisions. It makes you wonder. Why are folks are starting to creep in after such a long absence? A spate of new startups? Companies showing interest in ramping up content for the coming VR tsunami? Something is up, not sure what. Take a look. Join us!

April 4, 2016

A Face in the Crowd

‘Shufti’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘look!’ It was brought back to Britain after the Second World War by returning soldiers who learned the word from Arab peddlers. Its meaning now suggests taking a quick look around. That’s the purpose of the previous and the next three posts—taking a 3D shufti—a speedy reconnoiter of some happenings in the area of educational 3D.


In search of autostereoscopic 3D, while recently passing through Vegas I stopped to see the famous face-above-the-bar autostereoscopic display at the SLS Hotel and Casino. I was underwhelmed, because the negative parallax was minimal. It was too ‘safe.’ It reminded me that folks who want to reach the education market with 3D or VR had better be forewarned. Students strongly prefer negative parallax. If the learning resource doesn’t penetrate deeply into audience space, you won’t sell it very well. I suppose it’s good enough for the imbibed in Vegas.

March 28, 2016

3D Competition

‘Shufti’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘look!’ It was brought back to Britain after the Second World War by returning soldiers who learned the word from Arab peddlers. Its meaning now suggests taking a quick look around. That’s the purpose of the previous and the next four posts—taking a 3D shufti—a speedy reconnoiter of some happenings in the area of educational 3D.

Competition Announced for Educators


Five talented educators will win a free trip to SketchUp’s 3D basecamp in June of 2016, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado! 


The prize includes:
  • Roundtrip airfare and transportation to 3D Basecamp from the U.S. or Canada 
  • Free admission to 3D Basecamp and lodging at the event (June 13th - 15th)

How to enter:
SketchUp want to see examples of how you teach using SketchUp. Examples may include; class videos or photos, lesson documentation, SketchUp templates, student worksheets, student presentations, pretty much anything else that can be digitized. 
Entries are accepted until March 31st, 2016. Learn more about the competition here.


March 21, 2016

3D Shufti: NEO3DO

‘Shufti’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘look!’ It was brought back to Britain after the Second World War by returning soldiers who learned the word from Arab peddlers. Its meaning now suggests taking a quick look around. That’s the purpose of the next five posts—taking a 3D shufti—a speedy reconnoiter of some happenings in the area of educational 3D.

NEO3DO Set to Release Next-gen Product
While travelling to Las Vegas to compete in the Senior Games (competitive volleyball) in St. George, I paused to meet with David Briggs, co-founder of NEO3DO, the autostereoscopic tablet manufacturer. He offered some news about their next-gen NEO tablet. “What will differentiate this product”, I asked? Briggs responded: “The speed of the processor, megapixels of the camera, and the screen resolution will all be greatly improved.” “Both 7” and 8” autostereoscopic android tablets are on the table for us”, he added.

He also mentioned that their strategy was involved “pushing the why over the sizzle and wow” in promoting 3D. NEO3DO plans to lead with a strong content posture with the new release. “With higher computational ability and graphics processing, we expect our next gen device to be more amenable to 3D educational and game content.” He noted: “Tons of VR content will work with 3d tablets. We are also making inroads in the medical market (medical displays), and we are planning to support stereo vision acuity testing and therapy.” He also mentioned the use of “stereo cameras on drones controlled from the new tablet.” Learning from the content mistakes of others in the autostereoscopic market, he mentioned that: “The NEO3DO Next Gen will be loaded with content, films, and educational resources.”


According to Briggs, the numbers look good. “We are working with higher numbers of pre-ordered units and have garnered considerable interest from some of the production houses.”

I own a NEO3DO, and let me say--it is a tool that impresses educators--so this is very good news.

March 14, 2016

3D and Early Literacy Research

Is there really a direct connection between a child’s ability to read and the ability to see in stereo (natural binocular vision). Yes there is! See this recent study (click on the PDF) for some advanced medical insight:




March 7, 2016

3D Vision and Early Readers

Reading. What does it take to be successful? Part of the answer is physiological. For the early learner, how well vision works is vital. Children’s eyes must be able to track, focus, and team (work together). Successful reading requires our eyes to track a line and focus on a word or letter—and our eyes must do those things together, or team. Healthy vision deeply influences a child’s achievement in reading, learning, success in sports, and future career choices.

Enter modern day virtual reality. Virtual reality experiences are a hot-button technology these days. But is this immersive technology safe for our eyes? Of course, the answer is yes. But there’s a deeper story here. 3D virtual reality experiences also require our eyes to track, focus, and team. Sound familiar? Those are the same capabilities required for successful early reading, as described above.

I am writing this from Austin, Texas, while presenting here at the SXSWedu conference. Our presentation involves how 3D and VR technologies are being used to screen for and improve early childhood vision. And to screen for potential reading inhibitors. Bet you didn’t know there was a direct connection. Now you do!

February 29, 2016

Meet Dr. Jen Simonson

Dr. Jen Simonson (OD, FCOVD) of Boulder (CO) has developed a comprehensive 3D vision testing tool for both in-clinic and home practice use that runs on the iPad. Working with Gerull Labs, Dr. Simonson developed the free OPTO app. OPTO is currently in limited use in the U.S., England, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Australia and New Zealand. OPTO uses anaglyph or side-by-side 3D to both diagnose and treat a variety of vision anomalies. 
Dr. Jen Simonson, OD, FCOVD
These vision anomalies can affect 5-15% of the population. These vision issues limit our quality of life, the learning success of students, or the career choices of adults, if not treated. Using the OPTO app, Simonson notes: “We can detect if you cannot see 3D; we can measure how small of 3D you can see”, adding “we can quickly see if you need a more comprehensive eye exam.” (Incidentally,  Dr. Simonson was well on her way to diagnosing me in minutes, discovering my own amblylopia with her iPad app, even though I had not shared my own vision issue problems with her.) From the answers provided by the patient using the app, Dr. Simonson can correctly identify which eyes are being used to see and if one eye is experiencing suppression. Dr. Simonson explains in lay terms: “In vision therapy, we work on tracking, focusing, and eye teaming (when both eyes align and look at the same place). We can change the size of the target to see how much is suppressed; and determine whether central or peripheral vision is being suppressed. Even if the patient is too young to read or cannot speak English, that patient can still touch or point”, Simonson beams.

By developing her app on a mobile device, Dr. Simonson effectively leaps over some of many hurdles faced in currently diagnosing and treating vision disorders. The app is easy to administer, get lots of good information quickly, and provides valid diagnostic testing that is fun for kids to do, at multiple ages. Vision testing isn’t like it used to be: with Opto, children can be presented with a magnificently rendered stereo 3D dog and asked to pet the nose of the dog. What the children does at that moment—and where they stroke the dog (or cat)—informs the doctor how much 3D these children can see, even if they cannot verbalize. Older children and adults can even use a stylus for certain advanced tests.


Making this diagnostic and treatment device work perfectly across many different devices is a long term goal for Dr. Simonson. For now, it is easier to use only the iPad for clinical testing accuracy. Although many of her medical colleagues already like what they see in Opto, Dr. Simonson has launched a lengthy clinical testing trial (health review boards require rigorous clinical testing). The clinical trials are called VIVID (Validation of iPad Vision Diagnostics) and are being conducted in collaboration with The Ohio State University. After clinical testing, the plan is to take the app nationwide. 

February 22, 2016

3D and Your Vision

When modern digital 3D first hit the large and small screen, folks shouted sharply about their visual discomfort: headaches, eye strain, soreness, and nausea seemed to rule the day. Although some of those problems were due to poor stereographic techniques, the seminal research from the American Optometric Association (AOA) laid most of these concerns to rest: discomfort or the inability to see digital 3D without pesky symptoms was not the fault of the technology, but rather, the peculiarities of our own vision.  The 3D experience was, in fact, a quick and inexpensive test for healthy binocular vision. If you could experience the richness of 3D, your eyes worked like they were supposed to. If not, an underlying vision issue had just been brought to your attention.

With this revelation, the myth that the 3D experience was “bad for your eyes” or “bad for children” rapidly dissolved. With the launch of the AOA research, schools of optometry and vision health professional associations launched an aggressive multi-year training effort to bring the medical community up to speed in the diagnosis and treatment of what has become known as the 3D vision syndrome. And you knew it wouldn’t be long until that same vision revolution hit mobile devices. In next week’s post, we will introduce the work of a leading optometrist/vision therapist who is moving rapidly to bring 3D vision testing to the iPad, with great success. With a surprising educational twist.

February 15, 2016

Previewing SXSWedu

During the last decade, the very best ideas in education and technology could be scouted by listening to a TED talk. Times have changed. Move over TED, because the annual SXSWedu phenomenon has rapidly outpaced the TED talk as the most innovative, fresh, and prognostic venue for envisioning the future of the education. This year, the SXSWedu®Conference & Festival will be held in Austin, Texas from March 7-10. SXSWedu is a part of the SouthbySouthwest family of conferences, fostering “innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education.”


Conference session analysis can give us particular insight. The biggest footprint in ed tech coming out of the 2016 SXSWedu conference appears to be stout arrival of the virtual reality meme. Here are the sessions now approved in the first wave of program announcements:

The session will showcase how VR experiences significantly enhance learning through various curricular disciplines. It also shows how VR is being used to address pedagogical challenges (such as building empathy with the other), through collaborations between teachers, students, researchers and entrepreneurs from different countries (Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, USA). See this slide presentation.

Learning Through Virtual Reality Experiences.
In this workshop, Maya Georgieva (New York University) and Emory Craig (The College of New Rochelle) analyze how immersive wearable technology reshapes the teaching-learning environment and institutional culture, “raising fundamental questions about the shape of future media, narrative and storytelling.”

Virtual Exchange Meets Virtual Reality 
Students from Los Angeles were “dropped into” a virtual reality recreation to understand the realities of the Syrian crisis. They then connected these students with Syrian refugee youth in Amman, Jordan via virtual exchange. A most interesting mashup of old and new virtual technologies.

Using 360º Spherical Video as a Teaching Tool.
Bethanne Tobey and Mike Cuales, professors from North Carolina State University explore the use of 360º spherical video to better support lab-based and field-based instruction in online learning environments. This session is unique in that it demonstrates the use of virtual reality field-based simulation. See this video.

Augmented Reality: Engaging a Minecraft Generation
More in the augmented reality arena, this session will highlight the way educators and students are using augmented reality to comprehend learning complex concepts and retain information easier.

See2Achieve: Virtual Reality, Vision and Learning.
The only entry in the early learning category for virtual reality (all other topics focus on older students), this session features Dr. Jennifer Simonson of Boulder Valley Vision Therapy and Len Scrogan (that’s me!) from the University of Colorado-Denver. The crux of this presentation is that successful reading requires our eyes to track a line and focus on a word or letter—and our eyes must do those things together. Enter modern day virtual reality. 3D virtual reality experiences also require our eyes to track, focus, and team. This presentation shows how virtual reality is fostering unanticipated benefits for vision health and learning; and how new mobile 3D technology is being used to screen for and improve early childhood vision.
At the SXSWedu conference, 3D virtual reality is no doubt turning out to be a favored son. Even more interesting are the creative twists we are seeing for VR in the areas of online learning, virtual reality mashups, vision health, emotional intelligence, and the future of storytelling.

February 8, 2016

The 3D-printed Dancer

Here's a delightful video my wife introduced to me, a video with a 3D theme. Enjoy!




February 1, 2016

What's in a name?

As indicated in last week's post, clearly, the abbreviation ‘3D’ is currently disappearing from some digital product marketing schemes, and is being replaced with other substitute words. We now must surveil for code words like “immersive”, “VR”, or “mixed reality”, to name but a few. 3D Might be hiding there. You never know. The ways we now describe 3D visualization technologies are at the same time confusing, shifting, and converging. Let’s just say that conversations are never easy in this promethean field.

Part of the complication we face is that 3D has truly become a culturematic in modern society. In my lead-in quotation from last week's post, Juliet laments:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
Of course, what this means is: it matters what something is, not what it may be called. But in the education world, it sure makes it harder to hold conversations, build momentum, and do business around the notion of 3D.

January 25, 2016

By Any Other Name



JULIET:
      'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;       Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.       What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,       Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part       Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!       What's in a name? that which we call a rose       By any other name would smell as sweet;       So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,       Retain that dear perfection which he owes       Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,       And for that name which is no part of thee       Take all myself.
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1600

I want to reveal a perception that has consistently garnered my attention: I am finding that the term 3D is a rapidly shifting target. It means many things to many people these days. 

When someone speaks about ‘3D’, they may be referring to immersive rendered 3D solutions; or they may have in mind the amazing 3D room in the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal (see previous post); or they may be referencing stereoscopic or autostereoscopic 3D visualization products; they could be excitedly pushing the hottest virtual reality experiences; and they could even be describing augmented or mixed reality offerings. And I haven’t even mentioned 3D printing. In many cases, the actual term ‘3D’ may not be used, as it seems to convey “bad mojo” to some folks.

Here are some examples of this often occurring 3D obfuscation:
  • Within the behind-the-scenes platform for the 2015 Horizon Report (I served as a panel expert), organizers mystifyingly separated 3D technologies into four different categories. First, they saw most 3D as consumer technology and not an educational technology; they also mentioned 3D under data visualization technologies, under a virtual reality, and under a mixed reality. You can see why 3D didn’t make the cut if they don’t quite agree on what it is!
  • Many articles or press releases I read about virtual reality or mixed reality products are using stereo and/or rendered 3D, but these articles often steer clear of the “3D” moniker.
  • Manufacturers, committees, and school technologists are constantly mixing up these technologies in their minds and lexicon.
  • Chris Chinnock of Insight Media writes in a recent article: “This is how 3D is going to come back to life—via a VR headset.”

January 18, 2016

3D Fun in Portugal

Portugal is an amazingly beautiful and friendly country. It also has a sophisticated 3D industry underway. But on a recent trip I found a few fun things in the 3D realm, during my outgoings from Lisboa.

If you get a chance, try to visit the amazing 3D room in the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. The palace features an entire room that looks like it has depth, but it was painted on!


The 3D Room in Pena Palace, Sintra

I also noticed this product beckoning on a Lisboa shelf:
“Cada pedaço de 3D's leva-te a uma dimensão desconhecida: Vais desfrutar três vezes mais!"
“Each piece of 3D's takes you to an unknown dimension : You'll enjoy it three times!”
And now, apparently, 3D now applies to new dimensions of taste!


January 11, 2016

Learning About 3D

Are you interested in learning more about 3D? Here are two friendly resources to help you on your way:

A New Book on 3D. Miriam Ross, one of the brightest people I have met online, has released a new book that translates well for 3D enthusiasts and can benefit educators as well. It is entitled 3D Cinema: Optical Illusions and Tactile Experiences. According to Dr. Ross, the book is a bit different from many of the books that have already been published on 3D based because it is rooted in Humanities theoretical analysis. See these preview pages.


A Useful 3D Knowledge Collector.  David Briggs, the co-founder of the Neo3do autostereoscopic 3D tablet, purchased and now runs operates an informative website on all things 3D, 3D Focus. It’s a good place for educators to learn what’s happening in the broader 3D world. 

January 4, 2016

3D Events

3D Design Contest in the Planning. The huge Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) is moving forward on a 3D design contest for students to be held in 2016. The contest will have students design a solution to a given problem using 3D drawing software such as SketchUp Pro, which is provided free to TCEA members. For details contact info and details, see this link: SketchUp Pro.


VREP Showcase Feted. The Annual Iowa VREP Showcase is scheduled to be held on April 14, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. This event focuses on 3D animation, video and printing contests, with scholarships at stake. A 3D scanning component is now being added. 

New L.A. VR and Immersive Technology Meetups . A recurring series of meetups for 3D VR and immersive technology enthusiasts are underway by none other than the Creative Technology Center’s founder (and Iggy Pop rock star), Michael Page. I mention this here because I have met a large number of these folks, and they are deeply interested and committed to 3D in education. It’s a good group to get to know, if you find yourself in Hollywood. The meetups occur twice a month. See the signup site here.

                        

December 28, 2015

3D Tidbits

What's trending?


News from Outer zSpace. Talk about smart moves. zSpace has been wisely cozying up with symbiotic partners and pursuing powerful use cases. Their recent partnership with the Living Heart Project, a collaboration to develop and validate personalized digital human heart models and establish a unified foundation for cardiovascular medicine is sure to turn the heads of both the medical community and medical educators.


3D Model Creation Using Smartphones.  Carnegie Mellon University researchers in Pittsburgh have successfully explored the use of ordinary smartphones as scanning devices for the creation of 3D models. Lots of implications here for education. See this link for more information.

December 21, 2015

News from Sensavis

Sensavis, the creator of the unique educational product “The 3D Classroom,” together with partner Ed10x, has secured the first school district to implement The 3D Classroom with services and video rights for “flipped instruction” in all their schools. (The 3D Classroom is an intuitive and interactive 3D educational visualization tool which allows the teacher to explain complex and abstract subjects to students in a simple, visual, and understandable way.)

The Lincoln County School District in Southeastern Nevada can now produce their own professional development videos with high quality content on their own terms. With this district-wide licensing, teachers can share their best videos to their students working with “flipped classroom”, prepare substitute teachers with lesson resources in an instant, and as well as support students with personalized tutoring videos for class. “Lincoln County School District is energized and thrilled to partner with Sensavis. and provide our teachers the opportunity to incorporate an interactive 3D Classroom curriculum resource into their instructional strategies,” says Steve Hansen, Superintendent for Lincoln County School District. Fredrik Olofsson, CEO for Sensavis AB, the Swedish-based parent company of Sensavis, adds: “The 3D Classroom brings to Lincoln County School District a state of the art teaching tool that will enable students to grasp hard to understand concepts through stunning visuals.” Tiffany Kelly, CEO of Ed10x , explains: “It takes our Professional Development initiatives to another dimension… it fulfills one of our goals of capturing the students in those first few minutes of each lesson with technology enriched teaching methods. She adds: “Ed10x will also be working with Sensavis to develop a video lesson library and a peer to peer video library”.


Considering last week's post on Presente3D's new pricing, can you see a trend here? Again, we are beginning to rightly move away from the ponderous and onerous seat pricing model that has so plagued 3D in education to date.