February 27, 2012

Parallel Universe (Part II)

The following results were found in common to both the BVS3D and the LiFE I case studies (please refer to the previous post for context):
  • Retention.
  • Thinking in 3D. 3D learning affects how the mind’s eye approaches learning.
  • Improved Behavior. In-class student behavior improves both during and after 3D learning experiences.
  • Increased Focus. The ability of students to focus on the learning at hand increased due to the 3D experience. (This was labeled attentiveness in the LiFE I study and both focus and attention span in the U.S. study.)
  • Special Education Benefits. Students (especially male students) with attention disorders showed the most positive change in attention and learning behaviors.
  • Learning Transfer to Modeling or Essay Writing. Students in both studies performed better than those students with just 2D instruction.
  • Positive Student Reaction.

What can we learn from these common-ground findings? It is clear that we are starting to see emerging evidence that the educational benefits associated with teaching and learning in 3D roundly echo across oceans and distinct cultures. Regardless of the geographic location or cultural settings, it appears we are growing cautiously closer to understanding how 3D affects the brain, how it impacts learning, and how it can be employed to support effective teaching. Interestingly, here in the U.S., I hear of identical results coming from teachers employing 3D with such diverse groups as urban or rural students. 

February 20, 2012

Parallel Universe (Part I)

Two large-scale research projects exploring the effectiveness of stereo 3D in K-12 education offer us a “parallel universe” for comparing insight and results.

The first project (BVS3D) was fairly sizeable, involving four schools, eight classrooms, eight teachers, and over 570 student participants in Colorado. The LiFE I (Learning in Future Education) study, was even larger in size and scope, involving schools in seven European countries. (In the LiFE I case study, project sites were located in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, The Netherlands, and Sweden.) This project involved fifteen schools, fifteen classes, forty-seven teachers, and well over 740 students.  The final report for the LiFE I study was released and is available by registering here. The U.S. study, however, is not yet available. In this and the coming blog post, I want to highlight those results that were germane to both case studies. These overlapping areas of accord, featuring both U.S. and European perspectives, are both fascinating and informative.

In this first blog post, I want to clarify the environment and methodologies employed in these case studies:
  • First, both the U.S. and European studies involved a variety of school settings and grade levels. Both projects also favored science content delivered in 3D stereo.
  • In terms of methodologies, both case studies were similar. In each school there was a 3D class and a ‘control’ class. Both 2D and 3D classes were pre-tested and post-tested for content acquisition. In addition, both studies also incorporated qualitative feedback measures such as student and teacher surveys, classroom observations, and teacher/student interviews.

In next week’s post, we will highlight the results found in common to both the BVS3D and the LiFE I research projects.

February 13, 2012

Spatial Thinking

Over the next few months, I periodically plan to interview some of the educational 3D content developers that are making great strides in producing classroom-ready content. This is the first posting in that editorial line.

This week, we see the release of a new series of secondary-level stereoscopic 3D  math simulations by Spatial Thinking, a Los Angeles-based educational content developer, with a top-rate programming team in Beirut, Lebanon.  Spatial Thinking produces interactive simulations designed to teach difficult math concepts to students using the advantages of 3D stereo visualizationAnd it works. 

The initial 3D stereo interactives released by Spatial Thinking, with more on the way.
This software was clearly designed with the math classroom in mind, tackling the toughest problems with bravado. George Dekermenjian, the founder of Spatial Thinking, explains: “Our goal was to create an application that would serve as a bridge between the teacher’s mind and the students’ minds.

An interactive stereo 3D simulation that can be used by teachers or students to promote deep questioning and understanding of solids and their nets.

Focusing on the mathematics behind space geometry and measurement, the Spatial Thinking math series focuses on the relationships between concepts of geometry that students often feel are unrelated and disconnected. It deploys animations of more than 100+ objects to make learning connections successful for students. Dekermenjian is definitely on track when he clarifies that “any product aimed at teachers and students must be one that inspires discovery, experimentation, and engagement. “ These interactives do just that. No joke. For 3D-using educators, this software is definitely a must see, and portends a bright future for this company. Take a look.

February 6, 2012

5D Does 3D

Here’s something you haven’t heard about in the 3D world, I bet. It’s on the edges of the 3D experience, I admit, but it’s worth knowing. This is a unique gift idea for you 3D-interested folks out in the blogosphere. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and this concept would also make sense for any 3D company wanting to give out awards, employee recognition trophies, or singular appreciation gifts to key customers.

I was in Orlando this week for some speaking engagements and I happened to come across a store with a mysterious sign:

Being early in the morning, the store was closed. The next day, I passed by the store again, and this time it was open for business. I entered the 5D - Foto store with keen skepticism and was immediately delighted.  These folks make crystals—and are able to inset 3D etchings (not 2D etchings) within the crystal. 

You can either pose live or send 2D pictures and have them rendered into 3D. You can insert images of people, objects, beloved pets, products, or even company logos.  I thought to myself, “This really makes sense if your business involves 3D.” Similarly, schools could use it to honor students, donors, retirees, or memorable teams. 

Interestingly, this is the only store of this type in the U.S. Four such operations exist in the U.K., however.

On a more macabre note, one of the options available, upon your death, is to insert your ashes and genetic signature in a crystal. The crystal is then inset with a 3D replica of your genetic DNA structure. It’s a more scientific way for friends and family to remember you.