December 29, 2014

Learning About 3D

In classrooms, educators use 3D for teaching difficult subjects. We call this visualization. In technology education or ICT classrooms, students employ 3D to create authentic products using the tools of the trade, e.g., 3D cameras, 3D video cameras, 3D scanners, and 3D design software. We call this student content creation. Increasingly, students are not only learning with 3D or creating 3D content—they are learning about 3D technology itself. 

The previous three posts in this series focus on the use Google Trends as a tools for learning about 3D in classrooms. (In a future post, I will also show how educators or business leaders can use another tool, Google Books nGram Viewer, to learn more about 3D.) 

These are simple examples, but Google Trends is a powerful tool for learning about 3D and for exploring 3D potential in the marketplace. Two additional resources will support your efforts to apply Google Trends in your own setting:

  1. See this support guide for using Google Trends and constructing/conducting effective Google Trend searches.
  2. See this article for ideas on how to use Google Trends to support your educational or business goals.

December 22, 2014

What's Hot in 3D?

In this week's post, let’s continue exploring Google Trends to learn more about 3D. This week's question is really interesting: “What are the topics that seem to be rising to the top in all of these 3D searches, as Google tracks them?”

Based on searches for each spelling (3-D or 3D), we can see some obvious and less than obvious trends:



December 15, 2014

Where is 3D?

In this post, let’s continue exploring Google Trends to learn about which countries appear to have more grassroots interest in 3D. Based on searches for each spelling (3-D or 3D), we can see some obvious and less than obvious trends:


Map Over Time:

What might this all mean? There aren’t many surprises here, but perhaps two require an explanation:

1) Turkey does indeed seem to be a hot spot these days for 3D popularity (see my new series on 3D in Turkey, starting in January
2) Romania. Well, Romania. I know Romania has an emerging 3D technology industry,, but my blog has experienced a lot of suspicious referrer spam from Romania. That makes sense when you think about it-- I recently attended an FBI briefing on cybercrime, and Romania was on the top of their black hat list, identified as the country with the most cybercrime activity.

3. Guess what? Using the modern “3D” search term instead of the rapidly disappearing anachronistic “3-D” spelling, the U.S. doesn’t even make the top ten list.

December 8, 2014

Is it 3D or 3-D?

One of the most useful tools for learning about 3D is Google Trends. Google Trends is a Google-based search utility that shows how frequently a search phrase is entered from various parts of the world.  Quoting from Wikipedia, “the horizontal axis of the main graph represents time (starting from 2004), and the vertical is how often a term is searched for relative to the total number of searches, globally.” Using Google Trends, a plethora of fruitful questions become possible exploration avenues:
  • Is 3D a more preferable spelling? Or is 3-D best? 
  • How often has either term been used in searches? 
  • What countries seem to offer the most interest in searching for information about 3D? 
  • What are the topics that seem to be rising to the top? 
  • How is 3D trending?
Let’s begin by exploring Google Trends to learn about the term '3D' itself. Comparing the terms 3D and 3-D—used as search terms over time—provides some interesting insight (see interactive charts below):
x x

What does this all mean? As you can see, the use of the spelling “3-D is on a downward spiral, while the use of the spelling “3D” has continued to find itself commonplace. Why is that? Probably because many editorial style guidelines have now standardized on “3D” as a simpler approach to referring to 3D, while losing nothing in the meaning. In the long run, simplicity always wins out over complexity in our lexicon.

Another possible interpretation of these data is that the “death of 3D” that we often hear about is clearly exaggerated. Interest in “all things 3D” is here to stay, although it still experiences its expected cyclical highs and lows.

December 1, 2014

In Schools: 3D Printing (3)

Signing Up for the “Printing in 3D” Marching Band
For those of you who are “all in” or just want to learn a bit more, here are a few more resources you can explore:

  • Read chapter seven of Gary Stager’s new book, Invent to Learn. Chapter seven is a valuable primer for the educational use of printing in 3D, one replete with ideas, obstacles, and solutions for moving printing in 3D forward within educational settings.
  • Also, scour the @3DPrinter site for news, ideas, and trends in this field.
  • Are you a visual learner? Check out this extremely informative infographic on 3D printing.

My sense of things is that this technology is not disbanding, like a tired, aging, small-town marching band. No, printing in 3D is going to grow, fill its ranks with energetic new recruits, begin quickstepping, and get bigger—drumming straight to the national competition of relevance—and beyond. 

November 24, 2014

In Schools: 3D Printing (2)

3D Printing Maneuvers into Schools
In schools, printing in 3D does seem to be following expected routines of adoption, patterns that are quite familiar to those of us in the education space:

Peppered Interest.
Interested schools, curious principals, or impassioned teachers just buy them. You may find one, two or three 3D printers peppered around a school district—largely in the hands of a well-funded innovator, a magnet school, or a well-connected charter school.

Concentrated Interest.
Like some school districts I know on the East coast, leaders have concentrated 3D printers at a single grade level. For example, every high school has a 3D printer in one district, but none in any other schools. In another example, every middle school has been outfitted with a makerspace (included with that, a 3D printer); but none exist in elementary or high schools.

Laser-focused Interest.
Some districts I know in Texas are afraid of the high price tag of 3D printers—and the voracious costs of consumables, so they purchase a single high-end 3D printing solution for their regional career and tech center, while forbidding local schools to make similar investments. If other schools want to do printing in 3D, they can contract with the regional career and tech center.

Over the last year, I have attended every 3D-printing session possible at national conferences. I have even presented a few. And here’s what I know: It’s still largely in the marching band phase; there lots of folks buying these, but they are still not sure how to use them well, nor are they well equipped to handle the ongoing costs or TCO. BYTK.

There are a number of super stars, doing amazing things with printing in 3D, but they are hard to find. Both ISTE and COSN are among the organizations hoping to corral these folks and create venues for sharing, growing, and disseminating educational successes.

November 17, 2014

Rosetta in 3D

It’s current events time!

It looks like the Rosetta landing was viewed in 3D by President Hollande of France, along with other dignitaries.

It looks like they are using anaglyph glasses, which are old school, yet convenient for mass audiences.

Also, here's a useful link for the classroom: many of the Philae pics are freely available in 3D, too. 

November 10, 2014

In Schools: 3D Printing

The 3D printer craze continues its enthused cadence, parading through the halls of schools nation-wide, with no apparent sign of losing formation. The next three posts feature the latest and most useful news bytes and perspectives about printing in 3D in schools.

We will begin with a few random tidbits, hopefully items of interest to many of our readers:

NEO3DO Quicksteps to Printing in 3D
NEO3DO is touting a Print Preview app, an STL file viewer that allows for naked eye 3D interactivity. It works on all android devices and, soon, also on Apple devices. Of course, when using the glasses-free NEO3DO, it enables full autostereoscopic 3D viewing. This is a game changer for schools, by viewing student-created prototypes before for actually printing in 3D.  This translates well into classrooms, saving time, money, and scarce consumables.

COSN and ISTE Interest March Forward
Printing in 3D continues to please the crowds within the largest professional educational technology organizations, as well. ISTE's 3D Network recently conducted a very informative webinar on printing in 3D, featuring 3D printing expert Chad Norman, while COSN will be including printing in 3D as a featured topic within their 2015 EdTechNext Report on 3D in learning.

VREP Drums into 3D Printing
Even the large, Iowa-based VREP program is marching to the beat, shifting from pure 3D design on displays to options for outputting student designs to 3D printers. For the first time, they offered breakout sessions on 3D printing at their past VREP Showcase. Their 2015 showcase is scheduled for April 15, 2015.  

November 3, 2014

Nevada State (2)

In last week's post, we introduced the 3D learning project at Nevada State College. The pivotal question here is: “Why has Nevada State College hammered down their stakes in the field of 3D visualization?” Nevada State College is a small college, with 3400 students. Still, it leads the state of Nevada in a number of success indicators, as mentioned previously. So it should be no surprise that they hope to meet challenging fiscal times with bold counterstroke. It’s in their nature. And 3D is part of that effort, a determination to foster innovation and learning--and simply teach better.

Nevada State College leaders believe that 3D has a definite role in classroom. Dr. Andy Kuniyuki , Dean of the NSC School of Liberal Arts and Sciences believes, as a scientist, that 3D “engages, creates excitement, builds up and connects concepts, and delivers the abstract” directly to the minds of students, enabling them to “visualize the learning; to make sense of the information they are being taught.”

As a part of their initiative at Nevada State College, Dr. Kuniyuki is also laying the groundwork for research on the effectiveness of 3D in instruction. He wants to evidence some level of efficacy: “that 3D aids the conceptualization of difficult-to-deliver subject areas.” He explains that the college hopes to compare the impact of learning with 3D visualization with the baseline of past experience. “We want to see what students are able to think, know and do better or more efficiently with 3D—and then measure that outcome.”

Dr. Kuniyuki is also considering some innovative forward thinking in designing new 3D simulations to tackle some stubborn educational challenges: “Schools generally don’t do sufficient justice explaining why DNA is a hereditary molecule,” he explains. “We want to see if we can develop, model, and deliver on that essential question” using some in-house 3D visualization.

October 27, 2014

Nevada State Flies High

Nevada State College, located in Henderson (NV) is what we like to call a “high-flying” school. In educational circles, that moniker identifies a school that defies traditional expectations and succeeds despite the odds. Nevada State College is beaming proud of the fact that first generation, low income minority students comprise the bulk of their enrollment. The numbers substantiate the boast since 54.5% of NSV students receiving a degree in Biology continue on to graduate school, and a remarkable 21.4% enroll in medical school. 

Yet another reason Nevada State College is a “high-flying” institution is that it is may be the first college in the nation to adopt 3D technology across an academic discipline, not just a single classroom. Nevada State College recently purchased “The 3D Classroom,” a Sensavis program presented in life-like 3D. The 3D Classroom delivers what we have always expected and always wanted from 3D: the ability to go beyond superficial visualization. It offers the remarkable capacity to drill down, then go further down; to go inside, and then travel further inside. In short, to truly experience the long-desired “fantastic voyage” that 3D has always seemed to promise us.

Nevada State College is implementing this aggressive 3D learning initiative, starting with anatomy and physiology content, in all beginning biology classes and pre-nursing programs.  Later, they plan to expand its use in chemistry, physics, and mathematics programs.  Nevada State College administrators also plan to initiate a partnership with the content manufacturer, Sensavis, using student and faculty expertise to develop additional 3D content.

October 20, 2014

The 3D Network

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. In this post, let’s zoom in on the activity that occurred with the ISTE 3D Network during this conference.

3D Network Activities
The ISTE 3D network is a special interest group (or personal learning network) of educators within ISTE who are interested in the promise of 3D in K-20 learning. At the ISTE 2014 conference, the burgeoning 3D Network grew its membership to more than 1,800 focused educators. It’s nothing less than a new grassroots force in education. 

The ISTE 3D Network itself hosted two well-attended events:

The ISTE PLN Open House: 3D Network Table. The table was swarmed by literally hundreds of interested educators, most of whom knew very little about 3D in general and many of whom joined the network on the spot. 

The 3D Network “Gathering.” The annual face-to-face meeting of the 3D network was well attended by both educators and vendors. It was a high energy event, bringing in new leadership and many new members. Many powerful 3D technologies were also demonstrated, including auto-stereoscopic tablets, 3D scanning, a small student-built 3D printer, 3D classroom lessons, and student-designed stereo 3D projects. Free copies of Presente3D’s PowerPoint add-on were awarded to all attendees.


Overall, the ISTE 2014 educational conference was a memorable event in the steady upwards trajectory of 3D in education.

October 13, 2014

3D @ ISTE (3)

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. Let’s zoom in on some of the 3D happenings and developments in the exhibit hall.

The Exhibit Hall
The ISTE exhibit hall was one of the best ever. It was populated by fourteen booths featuring 3D visualization, 3D design, or 3D printing solutions. In addition to these fourteen, I noticed officials from Cubedigico and Eon Reality that were not exhibiting, but connecting with customers and partners on the expo floor. Some of the highlights include:

zSpace. Again, zSpace was the winner at another educational conference. Their booth was slammed with attendees from the starting gun to the finish line, sustained crowds like I have never seen. Most educators I spoke with had never seen anything quite like their near-“holographic” 3D. I still don’t understand why they didn’t win a Technology and Learning “best of show” award.

AVRover. AVRover was exhibiting, and drew solid crowds while featuring their newest mobile3D display carts.

Leap Motion. Gesture recognition controls were on display live, captivating minds and hearts by using gesture controls to manipulate rendered 3D images. See this video of Leap Motion in action.
Leap Motion

DesignMate. DesignMate shrunk their typical booth size to a smaller footprint, and drew crowds by featuring their content running on a zSpace unit, front and center. Their content keeps getting better, by the way.

Smartur3D. Smartur3D made their first entry into the U.S. market with some eye-catching products, innovative navigation, and a unique value proposition. These folks are so interesting, I am going to make them a topic of a coming spoltlight post here on FutureTalk 3D.  

Sterling Pixels
Other Notables. Sterling Pixels made their entry known into the educational market with a modest booth; Stampede’s new 3D guru, Jodi Szuter, was demonstrating 3D in a partner’s booth and connecting broadly with partners.

Stampede was in the house, too!

October 6, 2014

3D @ ISTE (2)

The ISTE 2014 educational conference, with over 16,000 educators and thousands more vendors in attendance, was remarkable. I simply cannot recall a better ISTE conference in a decade. But the real story lies with the teeming presence of educational 3D technologies at this conference. Even the Atlanta Now magazine featured 3D on its June cover.

Let’s zoom in on some of the 3D happenings and developments at this huge educational event. 3D was everywhere—in the concurrent sessions, in the exhibit hall, and within the ISTE 3D Network’s special events. We will dedicate one post to each of these arenas.

In the Concurrent Sessions
At ISTE 2014, there were more than 21 presentations scheduled on the subtopics of 3D visualization, 3D design, and 3D printing, equally distributed. In the visualization category, about half featured educational practices using stereoscopic 3D and the other half demonstrated anaglyphic projects. I attended most of these sessions, but here are highlights of a few:

In-depth Learning Poster Session. “The best 3D educator in the U.S.,” Holli Hillman joined forces with Len Scrogan to present a poster session that reached hundreds of educators with best practice and promise in teaching with stereoscopic 3D. 

The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian is lending their gravitas to educational 3D by starting the work of turning their many educational collections into 3D visualizations, simulations, and printing templates. See for yourself: This session had the largest and most enthusiastic attendance of all 3D sessions at ISTE.

Donley Research Presentation. Kristin Donley, Colorado Teacher of the Year (2012) presented her recent research on the advantages of teaching in 3D over teaching with flat 2D.

Other sessions. Other sessions were packed with attendees viewing anaglyphic field trips, architectural walk-throughs, 3D time capsules, and the NASA 3D collection.

September 29, 2014

3D @ ISTE (1)

If the recent ISTE conference—held in the closing days of June in Atlanta—is any indicator of the future, then the education market is alive and well. 

ISTE 2014 is the largest ed-tech conference in the U.S., organized by the internationally represented International Society for Technology in Education. At a leadership reception on Monday, Brian Lewis, CEO of ISTE announced that all attendance records were broken during this Hotlanta event. More than 16,000 educators and thousands of additional vendors converged in the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center for a remarkable technology experience.

While past ISTE conferences have always been well-attended, rarely has that attendance spilled over into the exhibit halls. Educators were always there, but many shunned the expo areas. Some likened previous ISTE exhibit hall traffic to working in a bowling alley: “enough room in the aisles to lay down some bowling lanes and curve a few strikes and spares.” Hashtag, sparse traffic.

This year was decidedly different. The exhibit halls were packed with educators, from opening to closing—even in the far remote corners of the expo space. I spoke with some habitual exhibitors, asking them about the quality and quantity of the attendance. “Best I have seen in years,” was one answer. “Second best I have ever seen,” said two more. “Second best to what?” I asked. “Second best to BETT in England,” they responded. (The BETT conference is 4x larger than ISTE, for perspective.)

Most interesting to observe was the wickedly heavy exhibit hall attendance even on the final day of the expo. I have seen nothing like it ever. Last days are for early departure and relaxed strolling down the exhibit hall aisles. Not so at ISTE. From my perspective, the pace was frenetic even on the last day, up to the last few hours. There were still lines to talk to people and slow going in the major arteries.

Some of the traditional display companies were there (e.g. Panasonic, Samsung, Vivitek, Hitachi, Epson, Boxlight, BenQ, and a Korean pavilion ), but I noticed the absence of 5-6 major display companies that, for some reason, did not choose to exhibit this year. Boy, did they miss out. The award for best and boldest new presence goes to the Panasonic exhibit, which offered a fresh, open, striking, and accessible new look for their booth. 

On another note, the 3D marketspace was the most vibrant and populous I have seen in 5 years at ISTE. I will cover that story in next week’s post. You will be quite surprised.

Perhaps all this was nothing more than pent-up demand, spontaneously released with easing of our recent economic straightjacket. Or maybe it was because people were happy with the fact that wireless was working reliably for the first time at an ISTE conference, so attendees had more spare time to spend in the exhibit halls. Or just maybe… we are witnessing the education market bouncing back to life. Cross your fingers.

September 22, 2014

The Future of 3D

At InfoComm 2014, I searched for promising trends, developments, and products in the 3D realm that might offer value for the education world down the line. I certainly found myself poking my head into corners it didn’t belong in! Here’s what I saw that certainly speaks to the future of 3D in education:

Dolby via Infitec. Infitec was showing a Dolby-based passive 3D solution, one which they suggest provides greater visual comfort and works on any screen. As a means to an end, this offering provides three advantages reducing visual strain in 3D instruction, no special screens, and the reduced cost of passive glasses.

Exceptional 3D via AV Rental Depot. Exceptional 3D revealed a brilliant digital signage solution in AV Rental’s exhibit space. This auto-stereoscopic pyramid was unearthly in its potential for higher education data visualization. See this picture and the video I shot:

Exceptional 3D’s auto-stereoscopic display pyramid

3D Projector Mapping. Christie’s 3D Projector Mapping solution kept the crowds rolling in. There are many implications for higher ed with this 3D scanning technology they have appropriately entitled a “Digital Sandbox.” Basically, this technology maps physical objects using projectors and then replicates them on a screen for manipulation or for digital printing.

September 15, 2014

@InfoComm 2014

At InfoComm 2014, poking my head into corners it certainly didn’t belong in, I searched for promising trends, developments, and products in the 3D realm that might offer value for the education world. Here’s what caught my attention for immediate application:

Eon Reality’s iCube Mobile. Featured in the Panasonic booth.  the iCube Mobile is a portable, lower-cost “show-and-go” version of an immersive 3D cave or hive. See this video. It worked quite nicely and offers excellent value to any educational setting, because of the mobility advantage.

Wolf Vision
3D Document Camera
Wolfvision’s 3D document camera redux. Wolfvision is offering a new feature in their ceiling-mounted 3D document camera: the ability to record in 3D.
Displaying 3D with the WolfVision Ceiling-mounted
Document Camera

WorldViz Virtual Reality. There I stood, using Oculus Rift headgear and the WorldViz virtual reality engine, being blithely transported to a truly immersive experience as the bustle of InfoComm 2014 disappeared from my virtual existence. WorldViz was demonstrating applications for their VR development engine and highlighting in print their low cost, portable stereo 3D WorldViz Corner Cave. Both tools, they suggested, offered real advantage for educational applications.  They already have a number of educational institutions and inquiring.  That’s no surprise. See this video:

September 8, 2014

Knowing Your 'Peeps'

How much do you know about the creative educators who use educational 3D these days? 

Recently, we mined the ranks of ISTE’s 3D Network (formerly known as “SIG3D”) for some interesting analytical data about their membership ranks, data you will be keenly interested in. These data are important, because they inform you about your peers, your customers—your “peeps.”

2014 data is not yet available and it must be noted that 3D Network membership now exceeds 1800 members. Still, based on 2013 data, the largest membership of the 3D Network consists of K-12 teachers, followed by technology specialists (building-level technology leaders), technology directors, and higher education faculty. If you combine the principals and assistant principals into a single category, this demographic is better represented than higher education faculty.

This is a very instructive chart. Interest in 3D is very much grassroots, strongly at the classroom and building level. Leaders, not so much. Not yet, at least. Except technology directors are starting to show interest. That’s good to know. Still—any way you look at it—the 3D Network membership spans a big arena. Overall, it represents a huge canvas to draw on, a large tent of educators. That’s good.