March 18, 2013

Whither eS3D?

Predictions for Educational 3D in 2013
Most prognosticators deal with predictions earlier in the year, say, in January. Unfortunately, my editorial schedule did not permit such a luxury. Under the “better late than never” rule, please allow me to humbly offer my informed predictions for the educational use of 3D in 2013:
  • The recession will continue to have a hampering impact upon the growth of 3D in K-12 education. (The way funding for education works is that schools lag the economy by a full year, so don’t expect much improvement until the year following any improvements in the economy.)
  • International use of 3D in K-12 education will continue to outpace the spread of 3D in U.S. schools.
  • The new SIG 3D formed by ISTE will double its membership and establish a growing foothold in educational technology.
  • Some surprise “big players” will jump on the 3D bandwagon in education.
  • Post-secondary education will see stronger 3D sales than K-12 schools as they continue to deploy 3D demonstration classrooms in some universities and community colleges.  (Post-secondary education, with the ability to charge tuition and fees, seems to experience nowhere near the same level of financial meltdown seen in the K-12 sector.)
  • Half of the universities or post-secondary institutions deploying 3D demonstration sites will create their own content, employing students in that effort; the remaining schools will buy or commission any needed content.
  • Medical education (medical schools, teaching hospitals, hospital education services) will see increased growth in 3D usage.
  • New and pioneering educational content providers will continue to appear on the scene, strengthening the quality and quantity of stereo content for education.
  • New innovations will emerge on the scene in 2013, strengthening the case for 3D (such as web delivery and viewing options beyond the active/passive debate).
  • Brain research (neuroscience) will weigh in, helping to build the use case for 3D in education.
  • 3D math content will increase significantly and science collections will continue to expand in topical coverage. There will not be enough 3D content to support most other subject areas, however.
  • User-generated content will continue to expand and represent a reasonable niche market.
  • 3D will become easier to use as some hardware barriers melt away.
  • Software copy protection schemes on software will continue to frustrate end users and make 3D difficult to implement. (Grow up developers—you’re not the CIA!)
  • The vision health issue will struggle to receive the attention it deserves. Still, slow and steady progress will be made
  • The persistent struggle we face in inoculating against 3D mythologies (3D is bad for you, it makes everyone sick, it hurts children) won’t go away. We’ll still have to wrestle with those unfortunate media-generated sound bites for some time to come. But we will win the arguments. Science and medicine support us.
What is your prediction? Please comment below. Resist the urge to stay silent. Blow the lid off this blog. Please.


  1. Good article and nice blog, Len !
    I'm not a predictor, nor a prognosticator, but my 3D opinion is that you are right in all your predictions, and that if you continue talking about 3D, humbly but so clearly, time and people will confirm the Future is 3D.
    Thank you very much for your 3D job.

  2. The questions is, how do we encourage American schools to try 3D? I have been working as you know for 4 years in my district/state, but it is slow going...some due to the economy, but more due to an ingrained resistance to integrating new technologies. There still seems to be people who fight technology integration in K-12...trying to keep to the old so-called "proven" methods. My mission is to show them definitive evidence of why they need to invest in 3D--so far I have made a substantial difference in the achievement of students who possess challenges when thinking spatially. If I incorporate simulations and hands-on activities with the 3D my increased achievement results more than double. I believe it is the synergistic effect of doing both 3D and simulations that breaks the barrier for these students!