July 29, 2013

3D in Tech Ed (1)

Riddle me this: “What’s the difference between Educational Technology and Technology Education?” The difference is significant in educational circles. Here are reasons why these are very different creatures and why that even matters:
  • Educational Technology generally describes a broad swathe of K-12 educators interested in integrating technology into various subject areas: language arts, math, science, and more. It’s a big tent.  Education Technology is represented by a number of well-known educational conferences: ISTE, FETC, TCEA, TIES, and Macul, to name a few.
  • Technology Education describes a smaller camp of educators—although an important and influential group. This category includes educators who teach courses in technology education,  applied technology, design, design engineering, career and technical education, STEM (applied science, technology, engineering, and math), CTE (career and technical education), and engineering education. Technology Education is represented by a large conference (ITEEA) and is linked with numerous state affiliate conferences and organizations. ITEEA has been around for a long time: they just celebrated their 75th anniversary conference. Interestingly, these educators are close marryin’ cousins with a recent culturematic: the Maker movement. (See Maker Faires and Maker Conferences.)

And now, the heart of our story: in March, I attended the 75th Anniversary ITEEA national conference in Columbus, Ohio. This was not new to me. Over the last dozen years I have led teams of teachers more than four times to this conference, searching for best practices. I have even been to this conference recruiting teachers for the Technology Education program I supervised in our school district. At this year’s conference, however, I found an opportunity for the first time to present on the topic of stereoscopic 3D. I had never seen a presentation on stereo 3D in my four previous visits to the conference, so I surveyed the crowd. No one had seen a presentation about stereoscopic 3D during their collective years of attendance either. Clearly, this was the first time stereoscopic 3D had come to the ITEEA technology education conference.
The participants liked what they saw and were eager to see more. Here are some of the memorable reactions I experienced:
  • Participants were in awe with the stereoscopic 3D resources demonstrated .
  • “I am amazed that Hollywood 3D isn’t as good is this educational 3D,” some responded. 
  • They walked up front, reached out to touch the images, whispered to each other, lingered long afterwards, and offered a continual stream of excited questions.
  • Teachers wanted to know how to get busy doing this—“What are the building blocks of getting started with 3D?”
  • Some attendees were rapidly and virally texting their administrators and colleagues about what they were seeing in this session.
  • Some students were wondering why they didn't do design work in stereo 3D .
  • One student wanted advice on how to convince his administrator how to jump into a new technology like this when his administrator had the tendency to be afraid of new things.

In out next post, we’ll take a closer look at technology education and why it matters to the world of 3D.

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