September 5, 2011

Why Language Matters

“I remember sitting on a National Science Foundation panel some years ago, feverishly sorting through 10-12 semi-final proposals in a high-stakes review for a major grant award. As one particular grant came to the head of the queue for a thorough panel discussion, it was clear that the technology-based theme introduced in the grant had been misinterpreted by most of the distinguished panelists crowded into our luxurious hotel conference room. I carefully tried to explain the grant writer’s intent to my peer panelists, but lack of clarity won out. Since the theme was interpreted in completely different ways by the panelists, the result was inevitable: the grant, a quite promising technology proposal, was not recommended for funding.”
This personal experience reflects the challenges we face when we don’t subscribe to a common language—a shared understanding—of the technology we embrace. I believe that this has now become a paramount issue, one vital for claiming the hoped-for footprint of 3D technology in K-16 classrooms.

Over the last year, I’ve often experienced considerable misunderstanding about the term ‘3D’.  Some of the unfortunate negative effects I’ve observed firsthand include:

-         Customers and conference attendees don’t attend sessions offered on the topic
-         Conference organizers obscure 3D presentations by shunting them toward less desirable venues, times, or days—or they deny presentation proposals altogether.
-         National think tanks, committees, publications, or thought leaders offer only the slightest consideration of stereoscopic 3D in their thinking, planning, white papers, or initiatives
-         School technology leaders think it’s just entertainment, so it’s simply not on their radar

The above happen because decision makers (and I’ve talked to so very many) are very busy people, can’t always keep current in our constantly evolving technology landscape, and simply don’t understand what stereo 3D is (or they think S-3D is something that it is not).

If we are hoping to convince school district leaders, persuade a principal, or induce parents to encourage classroom investments in 3D technology, then we need to be sure we have the same thing in mind. If we are planning to sell to schools, persuade distributors to carry and support products, or engage integrators to make it all work, then we need to be speaking the same language. 

But is educational stereoscopic 3D somewhat different from what we think stereo 3D is? I think so. So please check back with us for a concluding blog post, as we offer a startling realization about the nature of S-3D in classrooms. Cue the mystery music…

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