May 30, 2011

BVS3D Case Study

The BVS3D case study in 3D teaching and learning began with a call for participation to all Boulder Valley schools. Schools submitted competitive applications; leaders from the district curriculum division selected the final participants based on specific criteria. Four schools were chosen, representing three different grade levels, involving eight total classrooms. The case study was officially launched in March 2010 and evolved into three distinct phases of research:

Phase 1: The discovery phase (March – June 2010)
Phase 2: The maturing phase (August 2010 – February 2011)
Phase 3: The formal research phase (March – May 2011)

In this posting, we will briefly highlight the gleanings from our "kick start" discovery phase, which was very brief. This phase had limited exposure for teachers and students to 3D learning resources for several reasons. The 'discovery' time was used to:
  • set up, learn, and troubleshoot the hardware, software, and glasses used for 3-D instruction; 
  • review, evaluate, and match available 3-D software resources to our district curriculum essentials;
  • explore, test, and begin to integrate stereoscopic 3D content in the classroom.
In the initial discovery phase of the BVS3D case study, the following findings, informal in nature, were clearly and consistently evident:

high school classrooms

  • high student interest
  • the ability for students to focus on the learning target, and not be distracted, was noted
  • sustained focus (over long periods of time) on classroom content was regularly evident
elementary school classrooms
  • high student interest
  • livelier student-initiated discussions about the learning content were strongly evidenced, as compared with traditional or typical classroom levels of discussion and curiosity
  • solid retention (49%) two weeks after a lesson, as compared with  past experience (usually in the 20-30% range, depending on the child). This informally constructed pre-/post-test experiment consisted of five questions, half of which required higher-order thinking.]
day treatment center classrooms
  • high student interest
  • positive effects on student behavior were consistently observed
middle school classrooms
  • there were no findings at the middle level; this site did not receive their equipment until the following fall
Although these phase 1 results were informally collected and fairly ‘soft’ in nature, they are still quite informative and useful. They represent the first order of mental metrics that play out in the minds of teachers as they evaluate new technologies for potential use in classroom instruction. If teachers don't see these simple evidences, it is doubtful that they will continue to use the technology at all.

In the next posting, we will take a close look at our BVS3D phase 2 results.

May 23, 2011

Past Research

More than twenty-four years ago, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) convened a panel to report on the potential of visualization, including both 2D and 3D projection. This initial effort created a tremendous surge of research by greatly boosting funding for computer-based visualization. I've spent many hours skimming through some of the educational research specific to 3D visualization, which is chiefly focused on the post-graduate environment, and have generally seen learning gains in the 20-30% range, as well as favorable determinations in terms of learner retention and transfer. You can review much of this research by using Google Scholar or generic Google Search and the following search keyword string:  stereoscopic “3D visualization” research study findings NSF. (Scholar will give you a higher class of refereed publications, while Search will open a broader set of public resources for your examination. And please, if you have a better search string—post it in the blog comments area—so that we can all benefit.)

In 2004, the NSF and US National Institutes of Health convened the Visualization Research Challenges Executive Committee to develop a key report on visualization's potential, whether 2D or 3D, as a technology. Two other interesting papers on some of the challenges we face with 2D and 3D visualization are attached or referenced below:

Research in K12
Until recently, research on stereoscopic 3D in K-12 education has been noticeably sparse. Two of the limited research efforts to date have involved a study out of UC Davis and another out of Illinois. The most recent UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Study (2010) demonstrated some interesting results in terms of knowledge gains and attitude/perception benefits. It also has a useful literature review (see page 11).

The second study involved a large, state-funded effort focused on the use of 3D interactive simulation in math and science, The study, entitled the Classroom Cubed Illinois Initiative, was conducted by Dr. Lloyd Kilmer from Western Illinois University (2007). The pre- and post-test results of over 1,070 students provided the following subgroup data, indicating some potential for reducing stubborn historical achievement gaps:

• Free/reduced lunch students: 32% increase
• Full paid lunch students: 31% increase
• Non-white students: 32% increase
• White students: 32% increase
• Special Education students: 31% increase
• Non-special education students: 32% increase
• Female students: 35% increase
• Male students: 29% increase
• Math ISAT students currently below state standards: 31% increase
• Math ISAT students currently meeting state standards: 33% increase
• Math ISAT students currently exceeding state standards: 30% increase

May 16, 2011

International Effort

Along with our four BVSD schools, many other schools around the world are involved in an international 3D pilot study effort using DLP projector technology. These schools are exploring the learning potential and impact of 3D in the classroom. The map below shows the current location of these pilot projects. Currently, there are over 7 pilot projects underway in the U.S. and over 28 projects abroad (some are so recent, they are not shown on the map).

I wanted to bring this effort to the attention of our blog readers early on. Why? In our fledgling field of 3D in education, current research is still very sparse. Much more needs to be done. Some of the research is just now starting in the international locations mentioned above. Some is being launched by government education ministries and private foundations. Some is informal, some is quite formal. So keep on reading in the coming weeks, as we systematically share with you the past, present, and future of what we know about using 3D in teaching and learning. And please post your questions.  

May 9, 2011

3D Zombies!

Last summer, at the ISTE 2010 conference in Denver, I was sitting in the sparsely-attended session of a well-known featured speaker. In his talk, he was criticizing many of the aspects of educational technology that are more marketing than substance. Much to my surprise, his topic switched briefly to 3D in schools, and he showed the following slides on the large screen behind him:

There you have it! 3D zombies in the making. All joking aside, this respected technologist was actually sincere with his concern. Those who have known me over my lengthy career in education know that I think in much the same way. Is 3D in schools fad or substance? Do we only see marketing here, or do we see actual educational value?

In order to directly address those questions, I am starting my first series on our Future-Talk 3D blog. Over the next 6-8 posts, I will carefully review past research in this field, examine the international case studies now under way, highlight the preliminary results from our own case study, interview notable researchers, and provide insight into the results we are seeing. In late June, we hope to discuss the findings from our current University-conducted study of 3D in the classroom. If you know me well, I wouldn't be involved in 3D at all if I didn't recognize promising educational value. Come along for the series journey...