After attending FETC in Orlando, TCEA in Austin, and COSN in Washington, D.C., I came away with a fresh wind of perspective as the 2012 ed-tech conference season began in earnest.
Learnings from FETC
Stereo 3D was not well represented. It was visibly on display only in two booths. In addition, the displays were not that effective. Self-running demo loops simply won’t excite educators. There are better ways to showcase stereo 3D capabilities, folks.
Stereo 3D is not well understood by conference leadership. Although chosen as a presenter, none of my stereo 3D offerings were selected. That decision perplexed me, so I wrote to the conference leadership asking why they did not select one of my 3D presentations. “We already had several 3D presentations scheduled,” they claimed, and “didn’t see the need for any more.” The answer was mystifying, but I accepted it at face value. Who could possibly be presenting? Fast forward. The conference arrived. Once I landed in Orlando, I took thirty minutes and reviewed every session offered during the conference, scouting for the previously mentioned stereo 3D sessions. There were none. But there were indeed three sessions being offered on “3D virtual worlds” (rendered-3D immersive worlds, like Second Life) and rendered-3D design tools, or rendered-3D animation. But nothing on the visualization and learning advantages of using stereoscopic 3D. As you can see, the conference leadership did not understand what stereo 3D is. Why? It is not fully a part of their generation or their personal culture. It is not yet on their radar. It should be, but it is not. But don’t ever think it is an unreachable goal. We just need the right messaging.
Learnings from TCEA
Texas “gets” 3D. Numerous sessions touched on 3D at TCEA, including a half-day workshop. The presentations were well received and packed with people. New 3D math and science content was demonstrated that convinced even the stoutest doubters. 3D content was visible in a number of projection manufacturing and reseller exhibits. DLP 3D Lamp-Free Projectors were all the buzz, with four projector companies featuring DLP lamp-free projectors. (To the educator, lamp-free means not paying for bulbs every year—at $350 a whack. These projectors cost a little bit more, but pay for themselves in a year and a half. In some cases, the solution was expected to last for 20,000+ hours, or 10+ years in school terms.) I saw models from Vivitek, BenQ, Casio, and Optoma. Again, Texas ‘gets’ 3D.
Learnings from COSN
3D is the new kid on the block. A conference for technology leaders, 3D was clearly a new experience for most. Amidst the clamor and noise of cloud-based applications and 1:1 initiatives, folks who saw examples of great 3D educational content were quite impressed. Some of the discussions I had with interested educational leaders were promising. Educational technology leaders simply need to see great examples of 3D (not movies), in order to begin their journey towards understanding.