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.

July 14, 2014

When 3D Falls Short

In my previous posts in this series, I took time to translate many of the powerful creative thoughts of Clyde Dsouza into the context of classroom learning. In this sequel, I will draw upon Dsouza’s expertise to answer the countervailing question: “Why is some eS3D content so darn lackluster?

3D falls short in classrooms when:

Clyde Dsouza,
author of Think in 3D
It’s too flat. In his book, Think in 3D, Dsouza proposes that [when viewing 3D] “the screen really is a stage for all purposes. It is no longer a flat wall.” Dsouza accurately understands that, whenever 3D educational content is so close in appearance to flat movies, it loses its appeal. Think about it. Why would schools pay for the extra costs of 3D if they are only a little bit better than a 2D classroom video? It’s so obvious! He concludes, “A subtle look 3D film may as well be 2D.” So, too, in classroom 3D. In education, depth ‘rules’ and flat ‘drools’. (Please excuse my use of middle school vernacular).

It’s too subtle. Dsouza believes that is a mistake to assume that "subtle 3D is good 3D." He warns that “subtle 3D at all times  creates safe – [and] boring 3D. I agree. Anyone who knows educations is well aware that ‘boring’ ushers in an“irreversible kiss of death.”

It moves too fast. According to Dsouza, “the familiar montage like style , made up of rapid cuts, frequently changing camera angles, or fast camera motion that is normally used to convey anticipation, excitement, or other emotions into 2D movies” just doesn’t work in 3D film. I can say the same for the classroom. The classroom is different than the movie theater or entertainment ride.

3D content still has a long way to go. Some companies—like zSpace, CubeDigiCo, and Sensavis—are leading the way. Hardware and software companies alike would be wise to pick up Dsouza's book, connect with his ideas, and start to really think in 3D.

July 7, 2014

When eS3D content is amazing

Think in 3D by Clyde Dsouza
Recently reading Think in 3D made me think about those moments when 3D content is absolutely amazing in the classroom. How does that work? According to Dsouza, 3D content becomes truly amazing when:

It tells a story. Dsouza  is never apologetic in his passion for “the art of 3D storytelling.” Great eS3D doesn’t just focus student attention, it tells a vital story, one which students need to learn about in a given subject area.

It offers dwell time. Dsouza explains: “By its very nature, stereo 3D invites the user to look around a panoramic vista when presented… Giving the eyes and brain time to sample and savor a scene in these establishing shots key to successfully telling a story in stereo 3D.” This is something I have noticed in using great eS3D in the classroom—it compels more dwell time.

It offers out-of-screen real estate. Dsouza agrees with most teachers when he offers the opinion that “true stereographers know that out of screen real estate is invaluable to immersive 3D ...”  I can confirm his view. Out-of-screen real estate really matters to students.

It leverages 3DDsouza teaches that using 3D well “means that the unfolding story should know when to leverage 3D to heighten, ebb, or even alienate the audiences from the protagonist at appropriate stages during the screenplay.” Great eS3D in schools works in much the same way. The right learning object or scene geography is found at exactly the right depth—and for the right reason.

It activates our reflexesDsouza has observed that 3D is “a powerful phenomenon that can even activate our physical reflexes.” He notes “this is why we flinch or duck when we see something ‘flying’ out of the screen in a 3D movie. We don't usually have the same reaction in a 2D movie.” Great eS3D has the same effect on students—time after time.

It serves as a powerful triggerDsouza wonders: “Can stereoscopic 3D imagery be a ‘trigger?’ Could a scene in a 3D movie of balloons at a kid’s party trigger an emotional response in the audience remembering his childhood?” In education, we know that the mental images of stereo 3D content do indeed work the other way: eliciting greater recall, triggering, in the “mind’s eye,” a picture of a difficult or abstract concept.

June 30, 2014

Think in 3D (1)

I have recently come to the conclusion that content developers who design 3D educational software can learn a lot from creative 3D stereographers and cinematographers. 

I took the time during a recent trip to picturesque Fajardo, Puerto Rico to finish my copy of Clyde Dsouza’s Think in 3D: Food for Thought for Directors, Cinematographers and Stereographers (2012). A stereographer and a 3D consultant, Dsouza is not an educator, yet his musings warmly resonate with my thinking as an educator in terms of what matters about great 3D educational content.
Think in 3D by Clyde Dsouza

Reading Think in 3D made me ask myself the obvious question: “Why are some 3D educational content pieces so very superlative, while others appear tired, tedious, and ho-hum?” Dsouza’s book holds many of the keys that will help answer this question.  

Based on the thinking of Dsouza, in the next few posts I intend to highlight some of the reasons why certain educational stereo 3D (eS3D) titles are great, while others are lacking. Understanding these principles can help anyone in this market (content developers, hardware manufacturers, resellers, writers, and consultants) do a better job of reaching and keeping their customers. And understanding these ideas can help educators know what to ask for in 3D, what will work the best with students.

June 23, 2014

Wassup @ ISTE

The annual ISTE conference is rapidly approaching, convening this year in Atlanta. Besides the 3D Network events mentioned in last week's post, there are many other exciting 3D things happening at this large ed-tech conference.

In the Conference Sessions

The upcoming ISTE conference has currently scheduled twenty-one 3D-related presentations in their slate of sessions. Of these, five sessions feature Rendered-3D solutions; six sessions highlight 3D printing; five sessions showcase 3D design in education; and five sessions specifically focus on stereo 3D in education.

Traditionally offering only a few sessions a year, this session expansion at ISTE represents the largest increase in recent history.

In other news, Holli Hillman (see Best 3D Educator in the U.S.) will be presenting jointly with me for Depth-defying Learning: the top 10 new developments in educational 3D on Monday, June 30, 1:15 pm - 3:15 pm (GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 24).

In the Exhibit Hall

Preliminary details indicate that 3D design (3D Gamelab, Autodesk, and Realalusion), 3D visualization (DesignMate, Lumens, CubeDigiCo, Sterling Pixels, and zSpace), and 3D printing (Makerbot and Stratasys) will be there in force. Also, AV Rover will be exhibiting.

June 16, 2014

3D Network @ ISTE

It’s almost time for the annual ISTE conference in late June, convening this year in Atlanta. As you recall, SIG3D has been rebranded into the new ISTE 3D Network, now 1600 members strong. Two 3D Network events are now scheduled:

ISTE Network Open House – Saturday , June 28, 3-5 PM
This is an open house for all ISTE conference attendees to investigate various Professional Learning Networks. The 3D network invites attendees to visit their booth and mix with each other and potential new members. 

3D Network Gathering – Monday, June 30, 5-6:15 PM
This is the official 3D Network meeting, which will incorporate a variety of activities: getting acquainted, a 3D Network overview, teacher poster sessions*, and breakout sessions by interest. 

Special Opportunities:
We want to remind vendors that we will have a dedicated table to display (without cost) any sales material you would like to make available. Just bring your materials personally to any of the executive board members prior to the start of the event.

If any manufacturers have items or resources they would like to make available for our educator raffle, please contact us here.

*Please note that the 3D Network is soliciting teacher poster presentations (on stereo 3D or 3D printing) to be conducted in the meeting during a 15-20 minute rotation period. Vendors are encouraged to sponsor talented classroom teachers or professors to attend and present at this event. Only educators may present, however. Submit your proposals or questions here.

June 9, 2014

Hashtag, learnmorefaster

Let’s conclude our series on Learning Efficiency (when teaching using 3D) with a few crucial takeaways.

Learning efficiency is easy to track, document, demonstrate, and report. Research projects, pilot projects, reference sites, or case studies can easily collect quantifiable data on learning efficiency.

Sadly, those involved in promoting 3D in the classroom—hardware manufacturers, content providers, integrators, and resellers—are more interested in conveying the “wow factor” or “student engagement” benefits of 3D instruction than demonstrating the solid benefits of learning efficiency. Plucking the low-hanging fruit of “retention” also seems popular with many 3D companies or school projects. But why settle for anecdotal evidence, folksy stories, or meaningless retention data?

I am simply suggesting that folks will impress, attract, convince, and sell to far more leaders, decision makers, or teachers if they remember the value of learning efficiency when they design or implement planned 3D pilot projects, case studies, and rollouts. What do you think?

June 2, 2014

What Educators Say

After reviewing last week's post, what do you think educators actually say about “chasing efficiency” when using 3D in instruction? Below are a few insights on this topic.

Educators in last year’s Sensavis study of 3D in the classroom noted:
  • “Lesson speeds can also be positively impacted with 3D content. For example, a lesson that normally required two to three class periods to complete was taught in just one class period.”
  • “The majority of teachers felt that teaching with 3D saved class time as they were able to teach more and to more depth than without the 3D.”

Similarly, classroom teachers involved in the European LiFE study observed:
  •  “We find we can cover more material in a shorter amount of time. Also what the children are learning is more complicated and deep compared to what they would have learnt before. “
  • “The pupils can learn all at the same time and they learn a lot at once and so I find I can actually cover more in the same time. “
  • “I would definitely say that it shortens the time to teach concepts.”

Whether the technology’s use frees up instructional time, or it enables the learners to cover more ground, learning efficiency matters because time is the scarcest resource in schools. Time is at the top of every teacher’s list of needs. Number one. Period.

May 26, 2014

Chasing Efficiency: Learning with 3D

We learn more in less time," 9 year-old Preston explains, sitting cheerfully in his Minnesota classroom. This trumpeting of learning efficiency is one of the increasingly apparent benefits of teaching in the 3D classroom. Learning efficiency simply means that students can reach a deep understanding of their learning goals in a shorter amount of time.  This economy in learning really matters. When teachers and learners are more efficient, it frees up more time in the curriculum to cover or learn [more topics]—or to go deeper than the students were able to go before.

Learning efficiency is not evidenced solely in the 3D classroom, of course; many technologies, when used well, usher in the same advantage to learners. Consider the time-saving advantages of such a familiar educational technology as the word processor; or think about the omnipresent graphing calculator, which enables students to complete ten times the number of transformations than possible with pencil and graph paper in the same amount of time. 

That’s learning efficiency in a nutshell. 3D visualization, however, promises a brain-based renaissance for promoting learning efficiency like never before.

May 19, 2014

Mature Strategies (2)

As stated in a previous post, effective 3D instruction certainly depends on good equipment and well-crafted content. But the effectiveness of 3D in learning also hinges on creative teaching strategies used by talented educators.

We simply don’t show 3D movies in classrooms. Not ever. To the contrary, 3D educators add value. Here are some of the important value-added practices employed by Hillman in her successful 3D pilot project:
  • using only parts of the 3D simulation that are age appropriate
  • muting the narrator because vocabulary might be too advanced
  • providing the teacher’s own narration in order to simplify the content for the learner
  • pausing the 3D simulation for discussion, allowing for questions or  further explanation of the topic
  • watching, discussing, then watching again – repeating as needed (repetition encourages mastery and comprehension)
  • previewing a topic in 3D before the chapter/unit begins
  • creating a KWL chart together with the students, after showing a 3D simulation or animation
  • using 3D as a form of enrichment and/or expansion on a topic for those students who are ready for more
  • using the 3D simulation AS the lesson (Holli explains: “the visualization is often so rich that it provides an experience unlike anything one can offer through lecture or even hands-on; of course, the teacher can still provide elaboration, clarification, and guide discussion, since a 1-4 minute 3D simulation will never replace the teacher.”)
  • taking a virtual field trip (Holli notes: “3D can take students places they would never otherwise be able to go—and the color, imagery and depth is attractive and captivating!”)

In her own words, Holli Hillman hopes to “step outside of the box and implement [3D as an] innovative instructional approach.” Her enthusiasm is palpable and each of the above strategies helps us understand what a gifted 3D educator actually does with this powerful new medium of instruction. She is not afraid of sharing her insight and enthusiasm both with interested visitors and questioning skeptics alike. “I can’t wait to watch it all unfold,” she declares, as she makes plans to explore even more creative teaching angles in the months to come. 

May 12, 2014

A Must-See Webinar!

The ISTE 3D Network (formerly known as SIG 3D) has slated a unique webinar entitled “3D Comes to School.” The webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 20 at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT. It will feature Kristin Donley, one of the original teachers in the Boulder 3D in Education (BVS3D) research project. According to Donley, “the ‘3D Comes to School’ presentation will focus on recent research supporting the use of stereoscopic 3D in the classroom, lesson ideas, and best practices.” She plans to share the continued results of a 4-year pilot study in Colorado where teachers and students were introduced to stereoscopic 3D videos, simulations and interactives in the classroom. After this webinar, you'll know why 3D technologies can make a big impact on teaching and learning in schools.

Donley, the presenter, is no lightweight in the field of education. She is a highly effective science and STEM instructor at Monarch High School with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). Due to her passion, innovative teaching methods and commitment to her students, Kristin was recognized as the 2012 Colorado Teacher of the Year and 2011 Colorado Top Technology Teacher of the Year. She has recently expanded her work to include serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado-Denver and as a District Science Research Seminar Coordinator. To register for the May 20th seminar, please follow this link.

May 5, 2014

Mature Strategies (1)

In my first post of this series, “The Hillman Files,” I introduced our readers to the pilot project underway in the St. Francis area schools for the last two years. In the second post, “What the 3D Kids Say,” I shifted the spotlight to what the children have to say about learning in 3D in this intriguing Minnesota pilot project. In this post, I focus on the effective and varied teaching strategies used by the project leader, fourth-grade teacher Holli Hillman. What she does—and how she does it—is of great importance for those of us trying to understand how to best advantage 3D classroom instruction.

Texas Instruments uses the term “3D educator” to describe those brave innovators who push the power of 3D visualization in learning to its
Holli Hillman
instructional limits.  Holli Hillman is a 3D educator in every sense of the term. And by the time I am done, you may learn why I consider Holli Hillman to be the best elementary school 3D educator in the country.

Great 3D instruction certainly depends on good equipment and well-crafted content. But the effectiveness of 3D in learning also hinges on creative teaching strategies used by talented educatorsAs I have stated many times, we simply don’t show 3D movies in classrooms. Not ever. To the contrary, 3D educators add value. In the next post of this series, we will identify some of the important value-added practices employed by Hillman in her successful 3D pilot project. 

April 28, 2014

What the 3D Kids Say

The recent YouTube craze “What the Fox Says” is amusing to most, but carries a confusing message. Not so with “What the 3D kids say” in a two-year pilot project led by 4th grade teacher-innovator, Holli Hillman.  In this week’s installment of the St. Francis school success story, we’re going to listen chiefly to the voices of the children involved in the project over the last two years. Face it—we can learn more from the sincere words of children, spoken in a few minutes, than we can learn from lengthy ramblings of marketing experts or educational experts.

What the 3D Kids Say
Cedar Creek Community School
I am going to bring you these quotes in a straight and unadulterated way—directly from the mouths of the 4th grade children in this 3D project. I am only going to comment indirectly; the italics in each quotation below are mine. They represent my silent smile, pointing the reader to a key understanding or brain-based principle about “learning with depth.” By remaining silent, I feel I will provide greater voice to these nine-year-old students.  So, in that spirit, here is “what the 3D kids say” about learning with 3D:

"It's visual. You can see the actual water cycle and how it really is. A poster doesn't rain. Makes you feel like you are there and it helps you understand it better."

"The visual is good because we remember pictures and not words."

“We remember better and can visualize it [at] another time.”

"It makes it seem like you slow everything down and it makes it easier to learn it because you want to pay more attention to it and we're not just reading about it. You get to see more angles of things and more of the close up parts...like more details."

"It's more exciting to see things pop out because you feel like you're there and you learn more facts as someone tells you about what you're looking at. The screen moves and you actually feel like you're in the mountains."

"It's more exciting for us to learn in 3D because it shows you the system and how it works."

"When you show us a picture, you see the picture, and copy the picture because it doesn’t talk. But when you see the 3D, you don't copy it - you see it differently so you draw what you learned."

"You can picture it in your head better."

"We learn more in less time."

 “Ssshhh!” [whispered by children when adults are talking while students are viewing 3D content]”

Holli Hillman, the teacher extraordinaire leading this project adds: “My students are ready for more. They ask me daily if we get to view 3D. Although it's not something I use daily, as I continue to discover more content, my students and I will look forward to viewing concepts in 3D in other subject areas very soon!”

Well, there you have it. Consider going back to re-read each child's statement. Think about the brain-based research I highlighted with each italicized phrase. It make you wonder why 3D isn’t adopted more broadly, doesn’t it? 

April 21, 2014

The Hillman Files

There are a lot of good things happening with educational 3D across the country, yet I find that most of the great stories about 3D in classrooms somehow seem to fly under the radar. Good things are in fact happening, but often no one knows about them. That’s because educators rarely toot their own horn; it’s also because the education industry is highly isolated and successful programs are often geographically pigeonholed. Rarely do successes get the broad recognition they deserve. 

This is a story about 3D project that began at Cedar Creek Community School (Cedar, MN) and is now extending district-wide.

The St. Francis Schools are no stranger to innovative technology use, being well-equipped with projectors, SMARTboards, document cameras, and other innovative technologies. More than two years ago, however, they began a planning process to bring teaching with depth—stereo 3D visualization—into their classrooms. Led by 4th grade teacher-innovator, Holli Hillman, this project represents what I believe to be the single most successful district-level 3D implementation in the nation. Bar none. And for that reason, there’s much to be learned from these humble yet daring St. Francis innovators. Let’s continue our story.

Holli Hillman
Hillman, a seasoned and bright educator, summarizes the St. Francis project in this way:

We are exploring stereoscopic 3D content, currently in the areas of Science and Mathematics, for our STEM initiative. Because many of the 3D lesson topics were produced using the Common Core Standards, many directly correlate with our Minnesota state standards, making this content worthy of replacing some curriculum.”
The content being used by Hillman includes stereoscopic 3D simulations created by DesignMate. She explains the advantages of teaching with depth in this way:

 “3D brings concrete, abstract concepts to life and allows for optimum visualization and comprehension of some very conceptual topics. This content is fascinating and the sky is the limit for how it can be used. I believe this to be a ground-breaking approach to instruction as well as comprehension for students. The color and imagery are beyond bold and attention-grabbing.”
Remarkably, Hillman’ innovative efforts began with her 4th grade classroom. That is significant because the far majority of 3D projects in the nation are being implemented in middle and high schools.

Folks, there’s so much more to this story. That is why I am turning this piece into an off-and-on-again series. I consider Holli Hillman to be the best 3D educator in the U.S., and in future installments, you will clearly find out why. 

April 14, 2014

Efficiency in Sweden (2)

One of the most interesting findings coming out of the Vällingbyskolan and Högalidsskolan 3D case studies involves learning efficiency. In the Swedish studies, teachers report that 3D seems to help students learn information faster. Here is our second post on this theme, which briefly highlights the experience of Vällingbyskolan. (See previous post for details on the Högalidsskolan 3D case study.)
Vällingbyskolan in Sweden 

Fredrik Boström
Fredrik Boström, the principal leading the Vällingbyskolan school case study, agreed with his counterpart, Mattias, who was quoted in our previous post. Fredrik added: “We have seen that students can learn more in less time and therefore that their understanding of complex context is getting better.”

In the recent eBook, “The Future of 3D Education: What every educator should know about 3D in the classroom,” I was quoted as saying:  “It’s the first clue we’ve ever had in 3D research about learning efficiency. It’s a pointer. To me it’s a pointer that further research needs to be done.”  Learning efficiency, as one of the apparent benefits of 3D in education, is a phenomenon we will need to keep our eyes on.

April 7, 2014

Efficiency in Sweden (1)

One of the most interesting findings coming out of the Vällingbyskolan and Högalidsskolan 3D case studies involves learning efficiency. In the Swedish studies, teachers report that 3D seems to help students learn information faster
Högalidsskolan in Sweden
This educational phenomenon is called learning efficiency and its implications are profound.  Learning efficiency simply means that students can reach a deep understanding of their learning goals in a shorter amount of time. When teachers and learners are more efficient, it frees up more time in the curriculum to cover or learn more—or to go deeper than the students were able to go before.

Mattias Boström
Mattias Boström, the principal that lead the Högalidsskolan case study, noted that teachers often observed significant efficiency in learning during their 3D coursework.  He  explained: “We have students with a deeper and more complex knowledge about the heart in fifth grade, than any of our previous ninth grade students have had.” He recognizes that these learning efficiency results are “based on observations and teacher experience,” so he carefully added: “We don't have any data yet [on learning efficiency], but we are trying to get the researchers to look into this.” “What we have learned so far is that we can teach much more complicated and complex topics than we were able to before. We see that it takes less time to get to deeper knowledge for the students, time we can use to get more topics.” 

This economy in learning really matters.  Come back for  next week's post to learn more.

March 31, 2014

April Showers, 3D Flowers

Here are some April 3D happenings worth your notice:

3D Sketchup BaseCamp. SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2014 will take place April 14th–16th in Vail, Colorado. Sponsors promise lots of meeting space, reliable internet, affordable lodging and terrific food for this “designing in rendered-3D” event. According to the sponsors, registration is easy and there’s nothing standing between you and the best mid-April of your life.

5th Annual VREP Showcase. The annual Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinder student competition continues to grow and mature. Students demonstrate the rendered, stereoscopic, and printed 3D projects they have developed throughout the year. It’s a great event to locate student interns. This year’s event is being held April 9th in Des Moines, Iowa, and it’s still not too late to get involved. The students would like to have feedback from you on what they can do to improve. You can go to the www.vrep.org web page and register to attend the VREP event.  See the VREP Showcase Agenda for more details.

Eon Experience Workshop. Eon Reality is offering two days of presentations, hands-on Virtual Reality technology demonstration, and a first-hand look at EON’s flagship Entrepreneur School on April 10-11, in Manchester, United Kingdom. According to Eon Reality, “the Manchester Interactive Digital Center serves as EON’s European Headquarters and its state of the art Virtual Reality technology, development lab, and artistic resources help meet the growing demands for Interactive Digital Media in Europe and beyond.” This event allows you to explore Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies and exchange ideas with global VR experts, unpacking how interactive and immersive 3D technologies can help increase sales, better communicate product functionality, improve user training, or lower costs. Details can be found at the registration site.

March 24, 2014

Learning from Sweden

In recent 3D pilot projects in Sweden, teachers have been pushing the 3D envelope with sheer intensity. I wanted to drill down and unpack how teachers were actually teaching with 3D in these new trials, and what we could learn from them. The results of my investigation were enlightening.
Fredrik Bostrom

The Vällingbyskolan 3D Trials
According to F. Boström, the school principal leading the case study, teachers involved in the Vällingbyskolan 3D trials thoughtfully used 3D visualization in classrooms to:
  • quickly catch student interest
  • show biological phenomena from differing angles and perspectives than normally viewed
  • design new and original lessons, outside of the constraints and predictability of typical lesson delivery
  • reduce reliance on text for instruction

More importantly, these creative Vällingbyskolan educators also pushed existing boundaries by employing stereo 3D to:
  • evoke new questions from students in the areas of natural science, social science, and bioethics
  • put their own words to the images shown instead of depending on recorded text and narration
  • Vällingbyskolan
  • nimbly flip back and forth—between stereo 3D visualizations, film clips, writing on the board, and class discussions—while allowing students to figure out by themselves how biological systems work and express that in their own words

As you explain 3D to educators, what language are you using? Wow factor, engagement, and excitement are common marketing slogans (all taken from commercial websites), but none of these terms communicate the real advantages of using 3D in the classroom. I prefer the functional descriptions provided by Fredrik Boström.

March 17, 2014

Beyond the 3D Bubble

Having lived in Boulder, Princeton, and Beaverton, I know what it means when people say "you're in the bubble.” The real world lies just beyond. The same goes for people working in the arena of 3D: they tend to live in a secure bubble of like-minded enthusiasts. I am reminded of a cartoon that appears in the presentations of Shun‐nan Yang (PhD), a respected researcher with the Vision Performance Institute, College of Optometry (Pacific University):

The sad truth about this cartoon is that ordinary life is built upon binocular or 3D vision, hence the cringing nature of this insider’s joke.

A recent discussion hosted on LinkedIn’s bemoaned the notion that “It's still hip to hate 3D.” Apparently, the battle 3D currently faces is against "talking heads trying to influence the general public to adopt their [anti-3D] viewpoint.” “The masses love electrolytes, are considering gluten-free diets, and hate 3D,” they complain. Yet, we rarely make headway in this argument. “The public image needs to shift [to a] more positive [view],” they argue. “We just need to lobby for it like any other pop culture agenda, and not just to tech blogs and LinkedIn groups, but to the people who aren't buying tickets.” 

This article is about one way that we, as 3D enthusiasts, can start taking a positive message out beyond the boundaries of our obvious “3D bubble.” While attending the COVD Annual Meeting, (the College of Optometrists in Vision Development is the certifying body for doctors in the optometric specialty called Behavioral/ Developmental/ Rehabilitative Optometry), I met two authors that deal with 3D outside the bubble: in seeing, learning, and living. Each has published a unique book that would make a great gift for your child’s teacher, a parent, or a local school principal. Each book subtly conveys the importance of a child’s vision (which is 3D, of course!) in seeing, learning, and living. It’s a soft and inviting way to move beyond the 3D bubble and foster a message that will stick.

Red Flags for Primary Teachers, by Katie Johnson.
I first met Katie at the COVD Annual Meeting, when I noticed her impressive and unique poster session. Katie Johnson demonstrated through a variety of visuals how classroom teachers can identify vision problems that will affect learning as early as in the primary grades.

See it. Say it. Do it!: The Parent’s and Teacher’s Action Guide to Creating Successful Students and Confident Kids by Lynn Hellerstein.
A few moments later, I met Dr. Hellerstein and fanned through her book, which also comes well recommended.

Again, either of these resources would make for great end-of-the-school-year gifts for local educators. Or just give them a ticket to a 3D movie.