August 26, 2013

Students in Charge

There are good things happening with educational 3D across the country, yet most of the great stories about 3D in classrooms somehow seem to fly under the radar. No one knows about them. That’s because educators rarely toot their own horn; it’s also because the education industry is highly isolated and successful programs are often geographically pigeonholed. Rarely do successes get the broad recognition they deserve.  Here is another 3D School Success Story

In a Fort Collins middle school late last spring, eighteen students gave 3D presentations, making the case to the school faculty that 3D should be used more in teaching throughout the school. Dennis Cafiero, the president of Presente3D—a 3D plug in for PowerPoint—attended the student presentations, and a day later, I joined him to sit down with the students in a roundtable discussion. The lead teachers—and magnificent teachers they were indeed—facilitated the robust discussion. During the roundtable, students asked a flurry of questions about 3D, tapping into both the industry insights of Cafiero and my own perspectives.
Preston Middle School, Fort Collins, CO
First, let’s take a brief look at the school. Preston Middle School is a neighborhood STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school serving roughly nine hundred and twenty students from 6th to 8th grade.  Cutting edge technology implementation drives learning throughout the building.   Most classrooms have interactive SMART Boards.  Many hundreds of netbooks are available for student use.  A video conferencing system allows students to interact with experts around world.  Two years ago, Preston received a grant for a 3D passive system.  A group of staff members researched, interviewed 3D experts and built a 3D room. 

After students began developing, using and enjoying 3D PowerPoint presentations in class, they decided to propose expanding its use to the entire school. The entire experience was remarkable and rejuvenating. I left with even higher confidence in our future generations and the talented, hard-working teachers that form relationships with them. I wanted to share this remarkable experience with you. The funniest story was how one student turned his presentation into 4D--by throwing a live snake into the audience during his 3D presentation on snakes!

3D student presentations at Preston Middle School

Cafiero answering student questions at Preston

August 19, 2013

DesignMate Elementary

When we first started the BVS3D case study in Boulder, our fourth grade teachers were functionally limited to a narrow range of topical lessons in the areas of math (symmetry, estimation, place-value cubes) and science (the solar system, moon phases, photosynthesis, and trees). That’s not very much content, given a broad and varied curriculum in the 4th grade. 

Now, in a long-anticipated move, DesignMate released a collection of 79 stereo 3D animations focused on the elementary school market. Until this release, the lion’s share of available stereo content for K-12 education has chiefly settled in at the secondary level (that is, content for middle- and high school-level schools). Elementary students have largely been “the forgotten learners” in 3D.

The good news is that the new DesignMate content fits the paradigm teachers often like and use. It consists of short three- and four-minute animated vignettes tightly focused on specific topics that are difficult for children to learn or understand without the assistance of rich, immersive 3D visualization. The new DesignMate content significantly widens the availability of stereo 3D resources specifically supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives in elementary schools.

This new collection includes a variety of immediately usable elementary 3D animations. This new content covers such fields as physical science (light reflection, the three phases of water, gravity, floating and sinking, and heat energy), life science (body systems, parts of a flower, food chain, the atmosphere, forests, trees, leaves, and roots), earth and space science (day and night cycles, solar energy, the sun, earthquakes, erosion, water cycles, and seasons), and even environmental science (recycling, rubbish and litter, and saving energy). For a complete listing, refer to the document below:

August 12, 2013

Weighing in for 3D

Texas Instruments (TI) enjoys a leadership role in encouraging and promoting the use of 3D projection in educational settings by providing assistance and support to educators. Remember, TI designed the ‘miracle’ mirrored chip that enables 3D to display in movies and projectors across the world. Now they need your help.

Innovative, emerging technologies such as 3D can offer great advantages to both students and educators. If you are a teacher, professor, administrator or IT manager in K-12 or higher education worldwide—and interested in 3D in the classroom—TI invites you to participate in a brief survey. Regardless of your level of knowledge or expertise with 3D in the classroom, your responses will help shape the type of support TI will provide in the future for 3D in education.

The survey will take about ten minutes to complete. Your participation will benefit everyone who is interested in 3D in the classroom.  Below are the links to the appropriate survey for your level: 

August 5, 2013

3D in Tech Ed (2)

And now, the fierce conclusion to our story (see previous post): 
Technology Education is a unique opportunity for 3D. Most manufacturers, content developers, integrators, resellers—and even educational technologists—miss this point. They think the high-leverage infusion point for stereo 3D technologies sits with the large body of science and math teachers across the land. These educators certainly represent the largest market, but it is a market laden with challenges. These subject areas have recently become nearly impenetrable due to new common core standards to adopt, too much curriculum to teach, heavy saturation of learning materials, and steeply reduced funding to schools.
Technology Educators, on the other hand, “get it” right away. These STEM educators (teaching technology, design, engineering, pre-med, and other applied sciences) have the time, interest, curricular flexibility, and impassioned students to get this done. They thrive on innovation. They also represent one of the hidden footstools of scalability in schools. It is my experience that, as other teachers in a school see what works in these technology education classes, the desirable new technologies rapidly make their way into science, math, and other classes.

Technology Education is a unique opportunity for 3D. Let's not miss out.