November 17, 2014

Rosetta in 3D

It’s current events time!

It looks like the Rosetta landing was viewed in 3D by President Hollande of France, along with other dignitaries.

It looks like they are using anaglyph glasses, which are old school, yet convenient for mass audiences.

Also, here's a useful link for the classroom: many of the Philae pics are freely available in 3D, too. 

November 10, 2014

In Schools: 3D Printing

The 3D printer craze continues its enthused cadence, parading through the halls of schools nation-wide, with no apparent sign of losing formation. The next three posts feature the latest and most useful news bytes and perspectives about printing in 3D in schools.

We will begin with a few random tidbits, hopefully items of interest to many of our readers:

NEO3DO Quicksteps to Printing in 3D
NEO3DO is touting a Print Preview app, an STL file viewer that allows for naked eye 3D interactivity. It works on all android devices and, soon, also on Apple devices. Of course, when using the glasses-free NEO3DO, it enables full autostereoscopic 3D viewing. This is a game changer for schools, by viewing student-created prototypes before for actually printing in 3D.  This translates well into classrooms, saving time, money, and scarce consumables.

COSN and ISTE Interest March Forward
Printing in 3D continues to please the crowds within the largest professional educational technology organizations, as well. ISTE's 3D Network recently conducted a very informative webinar on printing in 3D, featuring 3D printing expert Chad Norman, while COSN will be including printing in 3D as a featured topic within their 2015 EdTechNext Report on 3D in learning.

VREP Drums into 3D Printing
Even the large, Iowa-based VREP program is marching to the beat, shifting from pure 3D design on displays to options for outputting student designs to 3D printers. For the first time, they offered breakout sessions on 3D printing at their past VREP Showcase. Their 2015 showcase is scheduled for April 15, 2015.  

November 3, 2014

Nevada State (2)

In last week's post, we introduced the 3D learning project at Nevada State College. The pivotal question here is: “Why has Nevada State College hammered down their stakes in the field of 3D visualization?” Nevada State College is a small college, with 3400 students. Still, it leads the state of Nevada in a number of success indicators, as mentioned previously. So it should be no surprise that they hope to meet challenging fiscal times with bold counterstroke. It’s in their nature. And 3D is part of that effort, a determination to foster innovation and learning--and simply teach better.

Nevada State College leaders believe that 3D has a definite role in classroom. Dr. Andy Kuniyuki , Dean of the NSC School of Liberal Arts and Sciences believes, as a scientist, that 3D “engages, creates excitement, builds up and connects concepts, and delivers the abstract” directly to the minds of students, enabling them to “visualize the learning; to make sense of the information they are being taught.”

As a part of their initiative at Nevada State College, Dr. Kuniyuki is also laying the groundwork for research on the effectiveness of 3D in instruction. He wants to evidence some level of efficacy: “that 3D aids the conceptualization of difficult-to-deliver subject areas.” He explains that the college hopes to compare the impact of learning with 3D visualization with the baseline of past experience. “We want to see what students are able to think, know and do better or more efficiently with 3D—and then measure that outcome.”

Dr. Kuniyuki is also considering some innovative forward thinking in designing new 3D simulations to tackle some stubborn educational challenges: “Schools generally don’t do sufficient justice explaining why DNA is a hereditary molecule,” he explains. “We want to see if we can develop, model, and deliver on that essential question” using some in-house 3D visualization.

October 27, 2014

Nevada State Flies High

Nevada State College, located in Henderson (NV) is what we like to call a “high-flying” school. In educational circles, that moniker identifies a school that defies traditional expectations and succeeds despite the odds. Nevada State College is beaming proud of the fact that first generation, low income minority students comprise the bulk of their enrollment. The numbers substantiate the boast since 54.5% of NSV students receiving a degree in Biology continue on to graduate school, and a remarkable 21.4% enroll in medical school. 

Yet another reason Nevada State College is a “high-flying” institution is that it is may be the first college in the nation to adopt 3D technology across an academic discipline, not just a single classroom. Nevada State College recently purchased “The 3D Classroom,” a Sensavis program presented in life-like 3D. The 3D Classroom delivers what we have always expected and always wanted from 3D: the ability to go beyond superficial visualization. It offers the remarkable capacity to drill down, then go further down; to go inside, and then travel further inside. In short, to truly experience the long-desired “fantastic voyage” that 3D has always seemed to promise us.

Nevada State College is implementing this aggressive 3D learning initiative, starting with anatomy and physiology content, in all beginning biology classes and pre-nursing programs.  Later, they plan to expand its use in chemistry, physics, and mathematics programs.  Nevada State College administrators also plan to initiate a partnership with the content manufacturer, Sensavis, using student and faculty expertise to develop additional 3D content.

October 20, 2014

The 3D Network

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. In this post, let’s zoom in on the activity that occurred with the ISTE 3D Network during this conference.

3D Network Activities
The ISTE 3D network is a special interest group (or personal learning network) of educators within ISTE who are interested in the promise of 3D in K-20 learning. At the ISTE 2014 conference, the burgeoning 3D Network grew its membership to more than 1,800 focused educators. It’s nothing less than a new grassroots force in education. 

The ISTE 3D Network itself hosted two well-attended events:

The ISTE PLN Open House: 3D Network Table. The table was swarmed by literally hundreds of interested educators, most of whom knew very little about 3D in general and many of whom joined the network on the spot. 

The 3D Network “Gathering.” The annual face-to-face meeting of the 3D network was well attended by both educators and vendors. It was a high energy event, bringing in new leadership and many new members. Many powerful 3D technologies were also demonstrated, including auto-stereoscopic tablets, 3D scanning, a small student-built 3D printer, 3D classroom lessons, and student-designed stereo 3D projects. Free copies of Presente3D’s PowerPoint add-on were awarded to all attendees.


Overall, the ISTE 2014 educational conference was a memorable event in the steady upwards trajectory of 3D in education.

October 13, 2014

3D @ ISTE (3)

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. Let’s zoom in on some of the 3D happenings and developments in the exhibit hall.

The Exhibit Hall
The ISTE exhibit hall was one of the best ever. It was populated by fourteen booths featuring 3D visualization, 3D design, or 3D printing solutions. In addition to these fourteen, I noticed officials from Cubedigico and Eon Reality that were not exhibiting, but connecting with customers and partners on the expo floor. Some of the highlights include:

zSpace. Again, zSpace was the winner at another educational conference. Their booth was slammed with attendees from the starting gun to the finish line, sustained crowds like I have never seen. Most educators I spoke with had never seen anything quite like their near-“holographic” 3D. I still don’t understand why they didn’t win a Technology and Learning “best of show” award.

AVRover. AVRover was exhibiting, and drew solid crowds while featuring their newest mobile3D display carts.

Leap Motion. Gesture recognition controls were on display live, captivating minds and hearts by using gesture controls to manipulate rendered 3D images. See this video of Leap Motion in action.
Leap Motion

DesignMate. DesignMate shrunk their typical booth size to a smaller footprint, and drew crowds by featuring their content running on a zSpace unit, front and center. Their content keeps getting better, by the way.

Smartur3D. Smartur3D made their first entry into the U.S. market with some eye-catching products, innovative navigation, and a unique value proposition. These folks are so interesting, I am going to make them a topic of a coming spoltlight post here on FutureTalk 3D.  

Sterling Pixels
Other Notables. Sterling Pixels made their entry known into the educational market with a modest booth; Stampede’s new 3D guru, Jodi Szuter, was demonstrating 3D in a partner’s booth and connecting broadly with partners.

Stampede was in the house, too!

October 6, 2014

3D @ ISTE (2)

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. I simply cannot recall a better ISTE conference in a decade. But the real story lies with the teeming presence of educational 3D technologies at this conference. Even the Atlanta Now magazine featured 3D on its June cover.

Let’s zoom in on some of the 3D happenings and developments at this huge educational event. 3D was everywhere—in the concurrent sessions, in the exhibit hall, and within the ISTE 3D Network’s special events. We will dedicate one post to each of these arenas.

In the Concurrent Sessions
At ISTE 2014, there were more than 21 presentations scheduled on the subtopics of 3D visualization, 3D design, and 3D printing, equally distributed. In the visualization category, about half featured educational practices using stereoscopic 3D and the other half demonstrated anaglyphic projects. I attended most of these sessions, but here are highlights of a few:

In-depth Learning Poster Session. “The best 3D educator in the U.S.,” Holli Hillman joined forces with Len Scrogan to present a poster session that reached hundreds of educators with best practice and promise in teaching with stereoscopic 3D. 

The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian is lending their gravitas to educational 3D by starting the work of turning their many educational collections into 3D visualizations, simulations, and printing templates. See for yourself: This session had the largest and most enthusiastic attendance of all 3D sessions at ISTE.

Donley Research Presentation. Kristin Donley, Colorado Teacher of the Year (2012) presented her recent research on the advantages of teaching in 3D over teaching with flat 2D.

Other sessions. Other sessions were packed with attendees viewing anaglyphic field trips, architectural walk-throughs, 3D time capsules, and the NASA 3D collection.

September 29, 2014

3D @ ISTE (1)

If the recent ISTE conference—held in the closing days of June in Atlanta—is any indicator of the future, then the education market is alive and well. 

ISTE 2014 is the largest ed-tech conference in the U.S., organized by the internationally represented International Society for Technology in Education. At a leadership reception on Monday, Brian Lewis, CEO of ISTE announced that all attendance records were broken during this Hotlanta event. More than 16,000 educators and thousands of additional vendors converged in the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center for a remarkable technology experience.

While past ISTE conferences have always been well-attended, rarely has that attendance spilled over into the exhibit halls. Educators were always there, but many shunned the expo areas. Some likened previous ISTE exhibit hall traffic to working in a bowling alley: “enough room in the aisles to lay down some bowling lanes and curve a few strikes and spares.” Hashtag, sparse traffic.

This year was decidedly different. The exhibit halls were packed with educators, from opening to closing—even in the far remote corners of the expo space. I spoke with some habitual exhibitors, asking them about the quality and quantity of the attendance. “Best I have seen in years,” was one answer. “Second best I have ever seen,” said two more. “Second best to what?” I asked. “Second best to BETT in England,” they responded. (The BETT conference is 4x larger than ISTE, for perspective.)

Most interesting to observe was the wickedly heavy exhibit hall attendance even on the final day of the expo. I have seen nothing like it ever. Last days are for early departure and relaxed strolling down the exhibit hall aisles. Not so at ISTE. From my perspective, the pace was frenetic even on the last day, up to the last few hours. There were still lines to talk to people and slow going in the major arteries.

Some of the traditional display companies were there (e.g. Panasonic, Samsung, Vivitek, Hitachi, Epson, Boxlight, BenQ, and a Korean pavilion ), but I noticed the absence of 5-6 major display companies that, for some reason, did not choose to exhibit this year. Boy, did they miss out. The award for best and boldest new presence goes to the Panasonic exhibit, which offered a fresh, open, striking, and accessible new look for their booth. 

On another note, the 3D marketspace was the most vibrant and populous I have seen in 5 years at ISTE. I will cover that story in next week’s post. You will be quite surprised.

Perhaps all this was nothing more than pent-up demand, spontaneously released with easing of our recent economic straightjacket. Or maybe it was because people were happy with the fact that wireless was working reliably for the first time at an ISTE conference, so attendees had more spare time to spend in the exhibit halls. Or just maybe… we are witnessing the education market bouncing back to life. Cross your fingers.

September 22, 2014

The Future of 3D

At InfoComm 2014, I searched for promising trends, developments, and products in the 3D realm that might offer value for the education world down the line. I certainly found myself poking my head into corners it didn’t belong in! Here’s what I saw that certainly speaks to the future of 3D in education:

Dolby via Infitec. Infitec was showing a Dolby-based passive 3D solution, one which they suggest provides greater visual comfort and works on any screen. As a means to an end, this offering provides three advantages reducing visual strain in 3D instruction, no special screens, and the reduced cost of passive glasses.

Exceptional 3D via AV Rental Depot. Exceptional 3D revealed a brilliant digital signage solution in AV Rental’s exhibit space. This auto-stereoscopic pyramid was unearthly in its potential for higher education data visualization. See this picture and the video I shot:

Exceptional 3D’s auto-stereoscopic display pyramid

3D Projector Mapping. Christie’s 3D Projector Mapping solution kept the crowds rolling in. There are many implications for higher ed with this 3D scanning technology they have appropriately entitled a “Digital Sandbox.” Basically, this technology maps physical objects using projectors and then replicates them on a screen for manipulation or for digital printing.

September 15, 2014

@InfoComm 2014

At InfoComm 2014, poking my head into corners it certainly didn’t belong in, I searched for promising trends, developments, and products in the 3D realm that might offer value for the education world. Here’s what caught my attention for immediate application:

Eon Reality’s iCube Mobile. Featured in the Panasonic booth.  the iCube Mobile is a portable, lower-cost “show-and-go” version of an immersive 3D cave or hive. See this video. It worked quite nicely and offers excellent value to any educational setting, because of the mobility advantage.

Wolf Vision
3D Document Camera
Wolfvision’s 3D document camera redux. Wolfvision is offering a new feature in their ceiling-mounted 3D document camera: the ability to record in 3D.
Displaying 3D with the WolfVision Ceiling-mounted
Document Camera

WorldViz Virtual Reality. There I stood, using Oculus Rift headgear and the WorldViz virtual reality engine, being blithely transported to a truly immersive experience as the bustle of InfoComm 2014 disappeared from my virtual existence. WorldViz was demonstrating applications for their VR development engine and highlighting in print their low cost, portable stereo 3D WorldViz Corner Cave. Both tools, they suggested, offered real advantage for educational applications.  They already have a number of educational institutions and inquiring.  That’s no surprise. See this video:


September 8, 2014

Knowing Your 'Peeps'

How much do you know about the creative educators who use educational 3D these days? 

Recently, we mined the ranks of ISTE’s 3D Network (formerly known as “SIG3D”) for some interesting analytical data about their membership ranks, data you will be keenly interested in. These data are important, because they inform you about your peers, your customers—your “peeps.”

2014 data is not yet available and it must be noted that 3D Network membership now exceeds 1800 members. Still, based on 2013 data, the largest membership of the 3D Network consists of K-12 teachers, followed by technology specialists (building-level technology leaders), technology directors, and higher education faculty. If you combine the principals and assistant principals into a single category, this demographic is better represented than higher education faculty.

This is a very instructive chart. Interest in 3D is very much grassroots, strongly at the classroom and building level. Leaders, not so much. Not yet, at least. Except technology directors are starting to show interest. That’s good to know. Still—any way you look at it—the 3D Network membership spans a big arena. Overall, it represents a huge canvas to draw on, a large tent of educators. That’s good.

September 1, 2014

Constructing 3D (2)

Tools for Stereo 3D Video Production

I am often asked the question "What software can I have my students use to make video content in stereo 3D?" There are many options, but here is my short list: 


Final Cut Pro

Adobe  Premiere Pro and Cineform Neo3D

Houdini offers a free apprentice/educator version of this tool used to make most Hollywood movies!

Feel free to post a comment highlighting other tools not listed.

On a side topic, if you want to get started now and don’t have 3D projectors and glasses, you can start with what I call a precursor 3D experience in stitched rendered 3D through Microsoft PhotoSynth

August 25, 2014

Constructing 3D (1)

Tools for Stereo 3D Authoring 

I am often asked the question "What tools can I have my students use to construct images and content in stereo 3D?" There are many options, but here is my short list. Feel free to post a comment highlighting other tools not listed.

Unity offers a free version for educators. Used in heavily in North Carolina schools

Blender is a free open-source tool for educators. Used in heavily in Iowa and VREP schools

Reallusion offers iClone V, a low-cost design tool

Houdini offers a free apprentice/educator version of this tool used to make most Hollywood movies!

Maya (just google maya stereoscopic 3d for more resources; the word stereoscopic is important)

Eon Reality offers Eon Creator, a commercial tool

Sculptris is a tool some of the schools in the VREP program are using to great effect.

August 18, 2014

Nifty 3D Camera

Here’s a welcome resource for your budding 3D classroom: Phogy, a free 3D parallax camera. 

This app (produced by Vivoti) runs on the Android platform (download here) or the iPhone platform (download there). Short instructions are available on the app, but the English isn’t quite correct, so it may take some re-reading to get started. Nevertheless, a great tool for the classroom. And the price is right.

Special note: The Apple version requires iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for the iPhone 5. 

August 11, 2014

Scaling Educational 3D (4)

In our previous posts in this series, we highlighted five of the strategies for scaling 3D beyond the single school installation or pilot project. In this post we will unpack three more practical strategies worth emulation: 

The Leveraging. Once the stories are being told, once the results are seeing the light of day, it’s time to connect those stories with an urgent need for action. The underlying premise is to use your past success to leverage even more success. The basic approach is to demonstrate that a technology-based intervention resulted in clear benefits and then request the resources required to expand the capabilities or reach of that intervention.  Here’s a chart that shows how that is supposed to work:

A technology-based project is producing notable results in a fourth grade classroom…

Let’s do better by extending the project to other classrooms.
A technology-based initiative is producing notable results in pilot schools…

Let’s grow this successful effort to more schools, so more students can benefit.

A smart educator will now raise the stakes, perhaps submitting a funding proposal to your superintendent, the school board, the PTO, a local business partner, a local educational foundation, or a probable grant source. Leveraging efforts must begin in earnest if scaling is to become a reality.

The Swell. Great technology efforts have wheels. They somehow inch beyond the artificial curbs associated with “pilot technology projects” entering the thoroughfare of relevance as they extend to other schools. Ms. Hillman explained early on in the St. Francis initiative: “I am currently working with teachers from the High School in an effort to expand… I am certain I will find teachers just as enthusiastic as myself to step outside of the box and implement this innovative instructional approach. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.”

The Anticipated Wrinkle. Surprises happen and good technology implementers know it. Recently, Ms. Hillman learned that both her highly supportive superintendent and her wise and sympathetic I.T. Director were leaving for new opportunities. This normally sounds a death knell for scaling and sustaining any budding technology initiative. Surviving leadership changes and knowing how to sustain an initiative for the long haul require quick thinking, agility, and no shortcuts in in the eight scaling principles identified in this piece. Since Holli Hillman has carefully built the proper scaffolding described in the eight principles above, there is far less worry over unanticipated transitions.

Following these principles, scaling educational 3D from single-school projects to district-wide initiatives is in the cards.

August 4, 2014

Scaling Educational 3D (3)

In our previous post we highlighted two of the strategies used by Holli Hillman used in scaling 3D beyond the single school installation or pilot project. In this post we will unpack three more practical strategies worth emulation: 

The Plan.  Most school technology efforts use an approach like this: “Fire, Aim, Ready!” Ms. Hillman’s paradigm became “Ready…Aim… Fire!” She knew that “you don’t just buy 3D.” You plan for 3D; you think it through; and you try to remove as many obstacles as you can before you begin. In developing her action plan, Ms. Hillman sought help from both inside and outside the district, ensuring that her efforts would indeed be successful.

The Promotion. In a famous Russian farce by Ilf and Petrov, “Christopher Columbus Discovers America,” there’s a saying uttered by Christopher Columbus that goes like this: “Without publicity—there’s no prosperity!” Effective scaling of 3D from one school to many schools requires marketing and promotion. In the midst of her project, Ms. Hillman wrote the following note to me: “This morning I had a VIP visitor. Brenda Cassellius, the Commissioner of Education for the state of Minnesota came in to view our district’s 3D set up and the way in which we are using it. Then on Monday,  I will have a Congresswoman here also. Very exciting things happening!”

The Results. In education, effective promotion is more likely to see scale increase if results are strongly evident. Simply using technology is never as convincing as is producing results with technology. Ms. Hillman didn’t merely show off the technology, she marketed the results of using 3D in the classroom. She began to gather informative student anecdotes or stories, collect data on student performance and improvement, and document  how well—or how quickly—students were learning.

In our next and final post in this series about scaling educational 3D, we will explore three more critical strategies. Please come back next week.

July 28, 2014

Scaling Educational 3D (2)

The St. Francis 3D project described in last week's post began in a single school, in a single fourth grade classroom. But last year, it was extended to all of the other schools in this innovative district. How did they do it? Here are two of the keys to success we can unpack from this timely success story:

The Champion. The vision began with a lone fourth-grade teacher, Holli Hillman. She was struck with the potential of 3D visualization in learning and acted upon her vision. She became a force of one. A ‘champion’ is the term we often use in education. She ached for a chance to employ this technology to improve student learning. That’s how all good educators improve classrooms—with a yearning, an ache, and by untiringly wondering, “what if?”

The Allies. The reality is that a force of one doesn’t really work in education. You might think so, but it doesn’t. Ms. Hillman had to find allies in order to truly realize her vision. She presented her ideas to her principal, colleagues, peers, parents, district leaders, superintendent, and even I.T. technical leaders. She sought their support, their advice, and their blessing. She convinced them, but she did so based on trust, passion, and the promise of value-added learning. In doing so, she grew and nurtured a large ‘family’ of co-travelers. She wrote: “My Superintendent along with his entire District Leadership Team were some of the first to view the 3D content only 12 short hours after it was up and running. I have been enthusiastic about this pilot project for quite some time and was ecstatic to share it immediately once it was up and running. My Superintendent couldn’t stop grinning as he walked from one corner of the room to the other watching the stereoscopic imagery travel with him. He was stunned that what I had been describing for several months was exactly as incredibly visual as I explained. He and I talked extensively about how this would be used in the classroom as a teaching and learning tool; and why this content is so incredible.”

In next week's blog post, we will unpack six more vital keys for scaling up 3D in your setting.

July 21, 2014

Scaling Educational 3D (1)

If you look at 3D in education across country, almost all implementations involve isolated, individual schools. These pioneer 3D-using sites are often magnet, STEM-focused, private, charter, or otherwise impassioned schools that simply caught the vision and saw the potential for 3D visualization in learning. 

In some U.S. school districts, mobile 3D carts have been purchased for every school, but almost all of these ‘district’ efforts have grown quiet, languishing due to lack of vision, training, and leadership. In my opinion, you cannot simply “buy 3D” and throw it loosely into classrooms; rather, effective and log-lasting  3D programs must be seeded, grown, nurtured, and cultivated. Above all, they must be led.

The St. Francis school district 3D project may well be the only successful district-level implementation of 3D learning in the U.S. Certainly, this group of forward-thinking educators offers key strategies for successfully pursuing district-wide implementation of 3D in almost any setting. What we can learn from this district will help all of us better support, sustain, and leverage future 3D initiatives in schools.

The St. Francis project began in a single school, in a single fourth grade classroom. But this last year, it was extended to all of the other schools in this innovative district. How did they do it? In our next blog posts, we unpack some of the keys to success for scaling educational 3D.